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If this were a television series...
vivalarsx22 April 2006
I would watch it weekly without fail. The characters are 3D, their lives interesting, the dialog graceful and why was I so disappointed by and frustrated with this movie? Because there just needed to be more. The short running time compacts all the problems and situations down to bare essentials, and there is too much going on for this film to skim across the surface the way it does. I guess the point is to show us a snapshot of these people at a very specific point in their lives, and then move on. The more-than-able cast certainly helps--particularly Frances McDormand, who can do more with just her eyes and mouth than most actors can with a page of script (just watch the way she looks at everything around her--especially other people). And while I am a huge fan of 70s-style non-endings, I admit that this movie's abrupt stop (after a very convenient and pat wrap-up) left me with an "Eh" kind of feeling. While it is certainly watchable and interesting AS FAR AS IT GOES, this movie is no "Walking and Talking." Have you seen that movie? "W and T" is absolutely brilliant, another small portrait of long-time female friends, but because it narrows its scope to two characters in a particular situation (one's wedding), it achieves all the depth and poignancy and hilarity that "Friends with Money" lacks. If "F w/ M" were a TV series, if it fully explored the characters' lives and situations in some depth and detail, I'd be its #1 fan. Maybe the DVD will include deleted scenes (say about 40 or 50) and the movie will finally feel complete.
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Quietly comic exploration of mid-life
mckenzieray30 April 2006
It's true that this movie is utterly bereft of car crashes and blood, but both my husband and I enjoyed it very much. I found it very refreshing to spend time in the company of people my age whose lives are not non-stop excitement, who are not trying to escape from terrorists/having sex with an unending stream of nubile blondes/both.

Yes, this movie is dialogue-driven, and yes, many of the comments and even conversations will seem familiar. I enjoyed watching and hearing people I could genuinely relate to, discussing problems which, if not all directly paralleling my own concerns, I could at least understand. The movie deals with the role that money has in personal happiness and how it changes the dynamics of friendships, and effectively shows that while money is neither a universal panacea, neither is it the root of all evil. One of the interesting questions the movie raises is also what you focus on and contemplate when money isn't an issue for you.

I thought the movie accurately portrays many of the misgivings that women in their 40s experience, even when they're financially comfortable--dealing with Olivia's feelings of *invisibility*, Jane's quiet despair at the loss of the hopeful anticipation with which she used to view her upcoming life, Christine's external expression of her mental off-balancedness and gracelessness.

There are plenty of movies out there directed at 18-year-old skateboarding ninja-fiends--is it so wrong to make one for me?? I found the performances (especially Jason Isaacs' overbearing and emotionally heedless American husband) compelling and believable, and I enjoyed this movie a lot.
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Woody Allen in slow-mo, but McDormand shines
janos45117 March 2006
"Friends with Money" is Americana the sit-com way: it is about older, (much) more monied, West Coast clones of TV's loathsome "Friends." Although it appears a slow-mo imitation of Woody Allen at his talkiest, the film does well. The reason: a quartet of actresses having a ball.

Nicole Holofcener's script and direction are merely OK: a medium-funny, not very insightful soap about three couples and a single woman (Jennifer Anniston), who is younger than her six friends, jobless, aimless, sloppy and rather annoying. Of the three husbands, only Simon McBurney is outstanding, but he really is, the English actor turning in a wonderful performance as a super-nice metrosexual.

Anniston does her best, which here works better than in any of her other roles. But "Friends with Money" is worth seeing because of - in order - Frances McDormand's huge star turn, with her unsuppressed rage turning into petty, ordinary rudeness; Catherine Keener, sleepwalking through affluence; and Joan Cusack, as a nice mega-rich woman without guilt or troubling thoughts.

The pace is glacial and steady; after a while, the film settles into a pleasant, moderately quirky flow, until a sudden and inconclusive end. Through it all, performances are to be enjoyed, and in McDormand's case, treasured. Never again will you be able go without washing your hair and not think of Frances McDormand.
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Been There, Done That
burgerific2 May 2006
Not only is this not a groundbreaking film, it's not a particularly pleasant, or enjoyable one either. It centers around a group of early 40s-somethings who hate their lives, their spouses and their place in the world. The casting of Aniston is strange, as she is easily 10 years younger then her circle of friends.

While you'd think that the film is trying to state "happiness has nothing to do with how much money you have", the opposite appears to be true as the more elevated couples do have less problems. And, if fact, all of Aniston's problems are seemingly solved when she manages to snag a wealthy (albeit slacker) guy herself. While the three married couples do have children, they don't add anything to the story, as they seem more like convenient accessories than meaningful relations. While that may be a creative choice, the fact that it runs across all three couples identically makes me inclined to believe it's just sloppy, two-dimensional screen writing. None of the story lines are brought full circle and the entire exercise feels like a long death march towards irrelevance. Several interesting notions are addressed, but none closely examined or fully developed. While there are poignant moments and some nice creative decisions (i.e. allowing the actors to look their age), this genre has been mined before to better results (i.e. "Grand Canyon").
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Go for Aniston, stay for Keener
anhedonia30 April 2006
"Friends With Money" seems like an incomplete film. It's as if writer-director Nicole Holofcener either got tired of her characters and simply ran out of ideas. I don't mind films where nothing much happens or there is no narrative conclusion. But there seems something awfully unfinished and undeveloped about this movie.

On the other hand, what makes it watchable are the performances.

Jennifer Aniston does her best work since "The Good Girl" (2002). She still has the best chance of the "Friends" cast to have a sterling film career, if she continues doing work like this - at least playing characters like Olivia. She should stay away from playing femmes fatale - her performance in last year's dismal "Derailed" was ample proof she's not ready to venture into Stanwyck or Fiorentino territory, yet.

But Aniston has a fine sense of finding that line between comedy and drama without pushing either one too far. Her Olivia is a believable person who just has incredibly lousy taste in men - thus far. Watching the hurt and disappointment on Aniston's face when Mike's (Scott Caan) true character comes out shows this woman's got talent.

Mike actually might be this film's most intriguing and interesting character. Caan's very good in the role and just when you think you like him, he does something despicable.

Holofcener's film centers around a group of friends, most of whom are affluent, if not stinking rich. The exception is Olivia. And throughout the film, Holofcener unveils their pains, insecurities and flaws.

Joan Cusack plays the guilt-ridden wealthy woman well and Catherine Keener, again, proves why she remains so incredibly under-rated. Here's an actress who can take small moments in a film and turn them into unforgettable ones. Keener's so completely compelling and honest in her performance. Christine's discussions with her husband, David (Jason Isaacs), never ring false thanks to two strong performances.

The weak link in the film really is Frances McDormand's Jane. This isn't the wonderful McDormand's fault. Trouble is, Holofcener paints McDormand's Jane as such a one-dimensional person - a woman who turns her suppressed rage into a rather annoying persona. Holofcener never bothers to penetrate the surface of Jane's problems. We just know she's angry and that's all we see of her. It's a shame because a woman of McDormand's infinite acting talents deserved a much richer character.

"Friends With Money" seems rather superficial at times because, unlike Holofcener's previous two films, this one simply skirts the surface of the characters. With the exception of Olivia and, to a lesser extent, Christine, we never see other sides to these people.

There's more to their stories. Much more. But Holofcener shows no interest in going there.
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some good acting, no plot
brianhellerbeck25 April 2006
Once you get through the first half-hour of this film, you've seen essentially all you need to see, plot-wise: four friends, three of whom have money, and all of whom are "stuck" in some way. Thank goodness for Frances McDormand, whose superb acting makes this movie watchable long after the scenes start repeating themselves. Catherine Keener and Joan Cusack are also very good to watch, even if their roles do not allow for much development. Jennifer Anniston's role and her ability to carry the part are both severely flawed: Anniston brings absolutely no personality to the part, and the part itself doesn't ever really develop. For this movie, it's a fatal predicament, since Anniston's role is the central one.
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So What?
forkerouac25 April 2006
This is a "so what?" movie. Some of the characters have unhappy marriages, some are selfish, some are insensitive, some are lazy. Nothing new, nothing significant; instead, the characters are thoroughly mundane and typical. These people are their own problems. They don't struggle against outside forces. They don't struggle much at all.

It is great to see that the cast isn't made up of teenage girls (or 30 year-olds playing teenage girls). The actors and the characters here are grown-ups, and they are not glossed-up in the manner of a typical Hollywood film. But there just isn't enough relevance or comedy or drama or anything to support a feature film. So why did this movie get made? Don't know. Why see it? No reason there either.
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The plight of the rich
aharmas25 April 2006
This is a movie that has contradictions all over the place. Are they happy or not? Is he gay or not? Am I to feel any sympathies for these people or not? Determined or annoying? There is really much to admire about this study of the well-to-do citizens of the Westside of Los Angeles. Unlike "Crash", this one gives us the positive and negative sides of what these people can be. Those of us who are familiar with the area can recognize how important image is to those with money and how their perceptions are so different from the rest of the world. We try to emulate them, but if we don't have the resources, it isn't possible. For instance, this is a point that is repeatedly made by the main characters in the film. We can afford it, and you (most of the audience) can't. It's hard to relate to that type of character.

What we can appreciate is some very fine performances; from Cusack's very restrained socialite, a woman who seems to be unable to cope with the wealth she owns. She appears to be normal, but she's pretty much limited by her standing. Her husband, a lesser character, appears to be more true to his social class, and he makes no apologies for his social position. Then, we have McDormand's neurotic designer, who is now losing control and is sinking into some very strange psychological episodes. There is not much of an explanation, and it's very frustrating to be amused or concerned by her problems. Still, McDormand does a very capable and entertaining job with her character. The standout is Anniston, who normally doesn't register much in her "star" turns, but here, as she did in "The Good Girl", she shines because she manages to keep her character real and believable. Her dissatisfaction with her actual situation is a cross to bear, and her bad luck in her relationships is something we can find at least believable. She knows these characters and has learned to survive in their immediacy, but she truly understands she will always be an outsider.

One of the most frustrating aspects in this film is how short and underdeveloped it seems by the time it is over. Maybe, as I mentioned before, it remains true to its ambivalent nature. Here is what might have started as an in-depth analysis of what it is to be rich, but in the end feels like a sloppy job. It moved well, shined at moments, and suddenly, it stalled. Is there a sequel in the works? I would certainly like to know where this is all going to end.
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TV writing
Chris Knipp8 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Olivia (Jennifer Anniston) is part of a group of four women friends who're all well off, except for her. Having fled from a school teaching job, she now cleans people's houses. She smokes some pot, pines for a married man she had a fling with, dates a personal trainer who's a dick; in the end, she winds up with a customer who's a slob but turns out to be nice, and quite rich. Olivia's three friends are Jane, Christine, and Franny. Jane (Frances McDormand) is a successful but very feisty and angry clothing designer, with a gay-seeming husband named Aaron (Simon McBurney) who attracts gay, and gay-seeming men. Jane's Aaron finds another Aaron (Ty Burrell), equally gay-seeming, and they have a sort of date, but this is to tease us or educate us about men: both Aarons are happily married, and their friendship leads to dinners for four, and that's that. Christine (Caroline Keener) writes scripts, and has nasty verbal fights, with her husband David (Jason Isaacs): her marriage is crumbling while the couple build a second floor on their house that will ruin the view for their neighbors. When Christine realizes this, and that her husband knew it, she dumps him. Franny (Joan Cusack) is very rich, just raises her kids with full time help, and is perfectly happy with her husband Matt (Greg Germann), her two children, and the world.

There are several themes here: forty-something women's crises (Jane, Christine); a single woman's aimlessness and passivity (Olivia); men who either seem gay, or are creeps, like Franny's personal trainer Mike (Scott Caan), whom she sets up with Olivia, and who is rude and exploitive toward Olivia; Christine's husband, who can't be nice to Christine -- though she can't be nice to him, either. And money. It's always there as an issue.

A pivot point is the pet fiction in American social comedy that friends stay together even when their fortunes come to vary widely. To distinguish her people from each other, Holofcener resorts to something like the eighteenth-century comedy of humors, where a character is dominated by a single trait or quirk: Olivia is obsessed with skin lotions and will even steal to get them; Jane picks fights with strangers and won't wash her hair; Christine is always hurting herself by accident. Franny's rich husband is almost invisible, except to insist on spending money, and he is the best man. He isn't possibly gay either.

Besides the married-men-who-seem-gay theme, there's a sequence when Olivia allows the boorish personal trainer to accompany her on her housecleaning jobs, where he lounges around, and then demands from her, and gets, a cut of her pay. Finally he gives her a kinky maid's uniform and orders her around in it on a job, a prelude to sex. Only at the end of this episode when she follows him and sees he's dating somebody else in the evenings, does Olivia decide to stop seeing this creep.

What is one to make of such a movie? It's an opportunity for some amusing character acting, and McDormand and Cusack and McBurney stand out. Anniston is well cast as the slightly depressed, rudderless but still independent female, who somehow carries herself well enough to be accepted by her well-off comrades -- though Franny and her husband agree that if she met Olivia now, she might not make the grade.

The rambling incidents and scattered emotions are united at the end by a conventional comedy device, a final public event that brings the main characters together, in this case a charity dinner for people with Lou Gehrig's disease. Franny and her husband have bought a table and Jane provides the women with dresses from her collection. Jane washes her hair for the occasion. Christine comes without her husband because they're breaking up. Having gotten rid of the unpleasant personal trainer, Olivia comes with the slob customer, and his revelation afterward in the car and in bed that sloppy personal habits and "problems" aside, he is so rich he need not work, promises a solution to her problem: she, like her friends, will have money. But this is decentralized -- really center-less -- and clearly TV-influenced plotting. In traditional drama, the characters' lives would dovetail neatly in the end; in farce, the couples would recombine in amusing ways. Instead here, the characters have just been moved around a little, like checkers on a board in a game that ends in a draw. The episodes have the staccato separations that remain in cable television dramas even when there are no advertisements to interrupt them.

There are some interesting -- and repellent -- examples of bad behavior: the self-centered personal trainer; Jane's rude aggressions in public; Christine's and her husband's mean slurs during their fights. But unlike Neil LaBute, Holofcener doesn't show how moral failures or failures of will ruin relations between the sexes. She likes to play with our expectations. The slob customer is jobless, and he bargains Olivia down for the cleaning from $100 to $65, and then turns out be rich. The Aarons make us think Jane's husband really will turn out to be gay -- he tells her in bed, "You're my best friend." But in the end both the gay theme and the money theme seem like red herrings. Are the gay-seeming men a critique of machismo? Is money a source of happiness when there's enough of it? This movies hasn't got answers. But what I'm wondering is whether it has any questions. TV writing can be very good, as Sex and the City and Six Feet Under (two Holofcender has written for), Oz, The Sopranos, and various other programs show. But it doesn't always translate well into the single vessel of a movie.
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Underrated and very watchable
Tom White19 June 2007
I watched this again on DVD, having seen it when it first came out in theaters. I ran to see it, and not just because it had three of my favorite actresses in it. In fact, I had some doubts because it had Jennifer Aniston in it, whom I had never been impressed with (not a fan of Friends at all). But this movie changed my mind about her, and I really enjoyed it.

I do tend to like this kind of film, which some people would probably term a "chick movie". I don't think it is, though. I think it's a people movie. But even that's too much for some people, probably the kind of guy who wouldn't sit right next to another guy in a theater because people might think they're gay. And, no, I'm not gay, just emotional and sensitive.

Still, I liked it more than I expected. Sometimes movies can be a little too girl-y for me, but this one was really about ALL the people involved, although the main connections were between the four women who are the leads. All friends, one of them has not done as well financially as the rest, but it's not only on her story that the plot of the movie turns. All four are going through some sort of issue in their lives, and there is some resolution with all of them, not all of equal import. And none of it is complete; there is no easy wrapping up here of any one story line. You do leave wondering what will happen with each of the characters, with the sense that life is going on beyond the final fadeout. I really liked that about the film.

As a not-too-well-off person living not-too-far-away from the affluent area of Los Angeles this is set in, I usually don't feel comfortable watching movies about people who have a lot of money and don't seem aware of the rest of us. These people share the view that they coexist in the world with a lot of other people who are not as well off; they're sensitive to the dilemmas of others, and are grateful that they (so far) are leading privileged lives. Even the most wealthy of them is a real human being, has issues, is far from perfect. This is a real-life view of Los Angeles people who are living real lives. I highly recommend it to anyone who themselves has a real life.
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A Great Movie for Grown-Ups!
TheTatmeister19 October 2006
What a rare delight - to see four talented actresses rising to the challenge of such a smart script. With each additional interesting project that she accepts, Jennifer Aniston edges away from the baggage of that daft and shallow TV show upon which she built her name. Frances McDormand, as a wife undergoing an existential crisis, is grittily beautiful and 100% believable.

I doubt whether most twenty-somethings will find much with which to connect in this film; in fact the message boards seem to indicate that they're hankering for a 'plot' ("Wot? No murder?"). Having said that, younger viewers with decent attention spans whose tastes tend toward more stimulating, 'art house' fare, might well feel rewarded.

The movie's characters are real people with real issues; issues which aren't necessarily wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow by the end of the movie, as is the case in most sitcoms. Their issues are recognisably human, and not the standard, manufactured, Politically Correct ones, such as those didactic "gender issues" that are so frequently wheeled out in mainstream Hollywood movies. (How dull that could've been...)

Furthermore, rather than serve up a neat 'Beginning, Middle & End', the film gives us a sense that the characters' lives and issues continue beyond the scope of the film, and that we've simply been privy to a slice of their timeline.

The dialogue, which crackles like a pine-cone in a blazing fire, is also worthy of being singled out for praise. While the film isn't a comedy, it boasts some wicked, laugh-out-loud lines. This is a beautiful, sad, funny, and engaging drama for discerning audiences. Bravo, Nicole Holofcener!
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It's art, not just a movie.
irishduck200014 October 2006
Friends With Money is a quirky and shallow interpretation of friends, relationships and the ever present views on wealth. Although at times it seems to skim over certain issues that are produced, the overall movie left me with a confused contentment. It didn't answer all the questions and left it decidedly up to the audience to figure out and is possibly a good mirroring of life itself- sometimes things aren't just resolved and we are left to our imaginations to decide how we want it to end. Although many people did not recommend the movie, I found it was a beautiful epitome of a more modern indie film that the main actors rise spectacularly to. Jennifer Aniston (whom I must admit is not one of my most favorite actresses at the moment following her box-office bombs) plays a smaller role but does so in an unimposing way, and allows the other great cast to have their fair share of the movie as well. Altogether, I found it confusing at times and yet agreeable in the end. Not for the pickiest of film critics, this movie is to be enjoyed whilst in a more airy state of mind. Enjoy and try to look at the movie as more of an art- not just any old movie.
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Friends with money and a lot of problems...
JasparLamarCrabb28 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
A stinging portrait of four friends fueled by enough angst to bring down even the most self-assured feminist. Writer/director Nicole Holofcener shows various sides of what is essentially the same woman using Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener and Frances McDormand as her pawns. Aniston is the loser of the group, with delusions of becoming a personal trainer (stepping up from her house cleaning job) and Cusack is the group's wealthy dowager. In between, there's McDormand and Keener, each clinging to decidedly precarious marriages. The actresses are fine with Aniston maintaining the indie cred she captured via THE GOOD GIRL. Keener is terrific as one part of a screen writing couple who blows a hole in her marriage by pointing out her husband's bad breath (it's one of the film's most uncomfortable confrontation and this is a movie with MANY confrontations). McDormand is almost comic as the woman on the verge whose husband may or may not be what he seems...or may be exactly what he seems to everyone else. It's all too shallow to be truly compelling.
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Interesting but inconclusive
pswitzertatum8 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film was recommended to us by someone who loved it, especially the part played by Jennifer Aniston. She did a good job, among a whole group of good actors. We thought the film was fascinating and quirky because of the fine acting, especially Frances McDormand's. The female and male characters are for the most part more interesting personalities than often found in American films. But the abrupt ending left us cold. We were just getting into the drama of it all, and it was over. We wonder if there are alternative endings on the DVD? Deleted scenes? I'd like to read the screenplay. I enjoyed some of its parts, but not the sum of its parts.
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I want my 90 minutes back!
tunnelboy22 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I know everybody is different. Some people love jazz and hate rock, others love rock and hate hip hop. I understand it and I make no judgments. But a movie like this? I just don't see how ANYONE could give this more than a few stars. It's not entertaining, there's no comedy, no drama, no story, and it all goes nowhere. It's not even arty it's just mundane. More than halfway in, I told my wife I wanted out, and she said "lets just give it a little more". Well, nothing else happened. At the end you're left scratching your head.

This movie was highly recommended to us by a friend. She loaned us her DVD to watch it (she actually bought it). After seeing it, I think my wife and I are going to be looking at our friend in a whole new way. What did she see in this thing? If you have it, save it for a rainy day when you have no other DVD's to watch, the TV is out, and there are no books or board games. Even then....
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Clair Smith19 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a joy from start to finish. Although its not like some others of the moment with a specific PLOT and lots of ACTION in it, I could really identify with it as a single woman, and no doubt women in couples would identify with it too. From the moment it started, I was swept up in the stories of each of the women and the beautiful background music added to its charm.

Basically its a movie about four women and their different lives. At the start of the movie we are meant to feel sorry for Jennifer Aniston's character as she has left her job as a teacher and is now working in a (shock horror) domestic position as a maid, cleaning houses. This results in her having to scour large department stores for cosmetic freebies. We see almost immediately her rich friends who both sympathise with and patronise her, but as the movie goes on we see their lives are not so wonderful, proving the old adage that 'money isn't everything'.

I found this movie funny, warm, poignant and most of all thought provoking. I really sympathised with Frances McDormant's character (I think I've got her name right) as she is having a sort of 'grumpy old woman mid life crisis' and at one point 'explodes' at the rudeness and thoughtlessness in the world.

I think if you are a woman you will like this movie. Its subtle and thought provoking, and a welcome change from the usual 'schmalzy, chick flick' type stuff thats all too common.

Watch it with a bottle of wine and a girlfriend!
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Who cares
sergepesic9 June 2008
I could sum up this whole movie experience with two words: Who cares. Group of extremely dislikable people and their self-centered and meaningless lives rambling about their non-existing problems. I don't have to like the characters, I don't have to feel close to them, I could even hate them, but, on some basic level I have to care what happens to them. That is not the case with this superficial and contrived movie. And to top it all, the cast of such talented and interesting actresses wasting their time to enliven this carcass of a movie. If you are trying to tell a story, it has to have some natural progression, and , for Goodness sake, some purpose. " Friends with Money" has none whatsoever.
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Delicate, delectable, honest...
moonspinner556 January 2007
Until "Friends with Money", I hadn't taken notice of writer-director Nicole Holofcener's name or her work, but she's an amazing filmmaker: a knowing, truthful writer and a director with hardly a trace of pretension. Comparing "Friends with Money" to a Woody Allen film is really a compliment to Allen--he hasn't had a cogent, wryly funny group of characters like this in years. Jennifer Aniston is an ex-teacher-turned-maid in Los Angeles who is obsessed over a previous, failed relationship with a married man and yet has no drive to radically change her low-income lifestyle. Her circle of friends include: Catherine Keener as a screenwriter whose marriage to her writing-partner is slowly unraveling; Frances McDormand as a confrontational clothing designer who sees such a bleak future ahead of her, she doesn't even have the desire any longer to make herself look attractive; and Joan Cusack, a married millionaire who gives most of her money away to charities. Although the relationships within the film's framework deal with situation-style issues which may be misconstrued as 'typical' of women's films, the incredibly smart way Holofcener has with dialogue obliterates any comparisons with TV sitcoms or "thirtysomething"-type comedy-dramas. The movie is masterfully handled, and is brave enough to see these women--and their male companions--occasionally as selfish or insensitive as hell, yet be sympathetic enough to each and every one to completely win us over--and not with smart-ass jabs, but with contemplative honesty. The film is a truthful tapestry, at once funny, sad, combative, and wistful. ***1/2 from ****
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I want my money back
lemminpie15 May 2006
This movie seemingly wants us to care about a group of West Coasters, most of whom make a lot of money, and one of whom doesn't.

Well, I tried. But I didn't care about the woman (Joan Cusack) with apparently inherited wealth (who never seems to have worked for a living and is out of touch with reality) who plans to give $2 million to her kid's school but can't spare $1800 for her good friend, a maid. I didn't care about the belligerent clothing designer (Frances McDormand) with a feeling of entitlement who's having a mid-life crisis and feels no remorse at insulting anybody who crosses her path. I didn't care about the oblivious screenwriter (Catherine Keener) who's busy alienating her neighbors by building an extravagant house addition but acts like she doesn't know it's an eyesore and who doesn't pay any more attention to her husband than he does to her, and then she has the gall to complain about him.

So, why don't I care? Because I don't live the West L.A. lifestyle, for one and find it hard to relate to clothing designers, screenwriters, and the idle. Yes, two of them have problems we COULD relate to (mid-life crises and sleep-walking through life), but the script didn't flesh out these characters well enough for me to understand what was really going on. It was like turning on one episode of a soap opera and trying to figure out weeks of plot development -- where are we going and how did we get into this hand basket? If the point of this was to show how money doesn't make you happy, then okay already. That could have been illustrated with just one character and done more fully.

I thought I'd care about the woman (Jennifer Aniston) who leaves a supposedly good teaching job to work as a maid and who needs every nickle she earns. Sounds like it could get really interesting. However, the character's lack of ambition, spinelessness, and downright deviousness wears thin.

Interestingly enough, I cared more about one of the husbands, the possibly closeted gay man (Simon McBurney). The self-absorbed screenwriter (Jason Isaacs) would have been interesting if his character had been more fully developed. The third husband (Greg Germann) who exists on his wife's wealth is pretty much just wallpaper and a complete waste of breathable air. Of the two men who have relationships with the the maid, one is an opportunist (Scott Caan) who gets way too much screen time doing the same thing over and over, and the other is a cardboard character (Bob Stephenson) who, in the end, turns out to be another idle rich person who doesn't hesitate to chisel the less fortunate.

By the way, what was the purpose of the unflattering shots of most of the actors? Frances McDormand is a really wonderful actor, but the camera made her look much older than her character's 43 years. Why? What was the point of making Joan Cusack and Catherine Keener look wrinkled and much, much older than Jennifer Aniston? Why the bad hair on Simon McBurney? Because in real life we pretend we don't see these things? But this is a movie, kids, and things usually happen for a reason in order to make a plot point.

All the actors were terrific and I do admire their performances. Jason Isaacs was marvelous, as always. But the story went nowhere for me. I'm not a fan of "slice of life." I want character development, motivation, reasons. In other words, something to think about after I leave the theatre. After leaving this movie, all I could think about is "what was the point?" For the Woody Allen fans out there, you'll love it. For the rest of us, rent an old copy of 'Our Town' and stay home.
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Catherine Keener and Frances you can't go wrong? right?
MarieGabrielle28 April 2006
Wrong. Just saw this film, hoping for some clever humor, original dialogue and an interesting theme. Well, some say I expected too much, and they were right.

Catherine Keener was excellent in "Walking and Talking", as well as "Lovely and Amazing" - do not expect this film to equal EITHER of those, even by half. While the "slice-of-life" idea is explored(as it has been since the mid 80's by Woody Allen), it is not terrible, nor is it terribly creative, either.

We see McDormand, Joan Cusack and Keener in various stages of marriage. Jennifer Aniston portrays the solitary single girlfriend. I gave this movie a chance, because I have to admit I have a bias against Aniston. Unfortunately, those who say she is only for the small screen are 100% correct. She plays the same mixed-up, dissatisfied woman-child; getting high, working as a maid in southern California, while her friends are sympathetic, yet financially comfortable.

Some of the scenes with McDormand are amusing, and Keener is always realistic when portraying marital discord; her husband intimates she eats too much junk food- they begin yet another argument. Actually, if Keener's character was more fully developed, she and McDormand could have carried the film.

The Cusack character seems superfluous- she has too much money and doesn't know where to spend it. She attends charity dinners and tells Aniston she will lend her money for therapy, but not for personal trainer lessons. (Is this an inside joke?. If so, the audience of 3 in the theatre I was in was NOT laughing).

The male characters are one-dimensional and barely examined- apparently this is another "woman's movie". Instinctively, I did not ask my husband to sit through this.

I have always loved McDormand (even in "Laurel Canyon") and Keener. Unfortunately it seems this project was designed for a particular audience. Judging from the attendance at an extremely large Muvico in Boca Raton, Florida, Aniston and her quirks do not a movie make. And McDormand and Keener deserve better. 2/10
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arizonalynne4069 January 2007
Okay, I love Jenn just as much as the next person and actually I love all the actresses that appeared in this movie. Joan Cusack is awesome, Frances McDormand is a wonderfully gifted actress. But all of them together in this movie just made for one horrendously horrible film. I've wanted to see this movie for a long time and I can not begin to describe how horrifically I was disappointed. There virtually was no story line, just a group of "Friends" getting together every now and then and bitching and complaining about the world. If I wanted to see and hear that, I'd visit with my mother and my aunt. I want to be entertained by a movie, and I was not entertained. Jenn should've stuck with her other "Friends". I love her but not this movie. Why was she stalking a married man? We were never told anything about their relationship at all. There were vieled references but nothing to say if it was really meaningful. There was no ending to this movie. Okay, Jen and the fat guy are in bed talking about drapes and then poof! It's over. Whatever "it" was. Hopefully, she'll have something better for us in the new year. And by the way, I loved "The Good Girl". Very dark and out of the ordinary for Jen.
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Lovely and Amazing-er
prometheus91121 May 2006
Nicole Holofcener has become a must-see director. While Lovely and Amazing was just that, Friends with Money tops it by bringing out the best in every actor involved (McDormand, Keener, Cusack and, yes, even Aniston are brilliant). At once quiet and frantic, the film captures beautifully the slow-boil tension between and among friends and lovers trying to attain or hold on to some semblance of humanity in a world where such goals are rarely rewarded. Critics who've bashed Aniston's performance are far too harsh; she holds her own in the company of three of today's greatest actresses. The conclusion isn't pitch perfect, but the rest of the film rings true.
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Nicole Holofcener elicits interest and empathy for her characters, with an intellectually stimulating exploration of the topic of money and relationships.
Susan (LadyLucius)29 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A film about relationships that all adults can enjoy, relate to and chew over. Often laugh out loud funny, whilst simultaneously depicting those dramatic human interactions that bring your own conflicting emotions to the surface. Nicole Holofcener (Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing) writes superb dialogue and directs the ensemble cast with accomplished focus. The film steps into the lives of the four women in their everyday situation, with no back-story we are voyeurs into this snapshot moment; Who has money, Who has a good marriage/ career/life, Where are the characters in their lives? The couple with most money, Franny/Matt (Joan Cusack/Greg Germann) seem the most happy and fulfilled. Our experience of their life's journey appears practically seamless, whereas Christine and David (Catherine Keener and Jason Isaacs) are financially comfortable, but not with each other, living in a cold, angry place. Trying to work together as a screen writing team, but at this point clearly on opposite sides of the playing field and using the extension of their house as an attempt at rescuing a relationship too far gone. Similarly financially comfortable Jane (Frances McDormand) is going through an emotional, depressive, sometimes almost psychotic midlife crisis, portraying cringingly funny moments that we all recognize. Husband Aaron (Simon McBurney) is sympathetic to her loss of confidence, but needs nurturing of his own. His complex portrayal of questionable sexuality and tentative exploration outside of his marriage is exquisite. All three couples look at their younger friend Olivia (Jennifer Aniston) and judge themselves further along in their life's journey, both in the size of their bank accounts and their relationship status, i.e., married. Olivia has given up her teaching job, habitually calls her ex and gives him the silent treatment, smokes pot at bedtime and haunts the malls for freebie cosmetic samples. To make ends meet she works as a maid cleaning houses, while her non-existent self esteem functions to bring her into humiliating relationships with men. Jen's portrayal is subtle enough to be convincing. She gives in to others even though she recognizes that it is demeaning her and this draws the audience to her character. In one of the funniest moments of the film Olivia smears $75 face cream onto her feet as if saying 'So there!' to the world. Ultimately, the feel good ending for Olivia at the end of the film feels right.

Nicole Holofcener elicits interest and empathy for her characters, with an intellectually stimulating exploration of the topic of money and relationships. The subtle content leaves the audience feeling enriched, but wanting more. This is a film you may want to see more than once to truly appreciate the many different levels on which the characters operate. The amount of laughter the first time round often masks the deeper levels in which the scenes and proponents engage - a must see for grown ups.
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Really nice film
begold6 April 2006
It is very refreshing to see real honest looking people dealing with class issues. The film has a great look and the locations in and around Los Angeles and Santa Monica were captured perfectly. The acting of this ensemble is hard to fault. This is Jennifer Aniston best job in a film although that is a very low hurdle. In an environment of not many good films to view this one stands out. Most of the comments I heard leaving the screening were very favorable but the end of the film had left many a tad bewildered. I think after awhile most people will agree that they got their moneys worth and will come to grips with the films meaning and ending.
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Just What It Sounds LIke
ofdreams12 May 2006
Friends With Money refreshingly looks at money and friendship. The rare films that do this are generally timid, sort of "showing" us the differences, the issues. Here, refreshingly, these get discussed. We get to hear things that some of us want to say when we are watching similar films about the self-made LA moneyed, which don't face down any of the inequities or awkward elements between the characters relating to their money.

It seems Anniston is sort of playing her Good Girl character, Justine, again but is so good I enjoyed her nearly as much. Keener, who I adore, doesn't really wow here, recycling what she brought to Lovely and Amazing. Cusack is unique and great, while McDormand show us all once again why she is the QUEEN of getting it exactly right. I disagree with some critics re the unimportance of the male characters, whom I found well-scripted, well-acted and very relevant to the film.

In response to some earlier comments, as a woman the age of these women, I found the McDormand character's plight quite believable, inclusive of the explanation which IS offered toward the end of the film.

Lastly, I am mainly familiar with Holofcener's writing in Lovely and Amazing, which is a must-see. I would say the commonality between that and this is the richness of her characters, intended as part of the story itself. She wants to make sure we develop a sense of who they might not want us to know they are, of the holes in their interiors even as they stitch them up and try to go on right in front of us. Her dialog is smart and bold.
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