Brewster's Millions (1985)
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This excellent and hilarious story is played out brilliantly by Pryor and Candy, and it takes us on a spending spree that has its up and downs for poor Mr Brewster. Because of the nature of the movies theme, Brewsters millions is quite firmly rooted in the 80's when it was made, but it still entertains with ease and is well worth watching.
The plot is disarmingly (and misleadingly) simple. Montgomery Brewster (Pryor) stands to inherit a $300 million fortune from a long lost uncle (played by Hume Cronyn), whose will is videotaped. The catch? To get the money, Brewster must first spend $30 million in 30 days. An additional catch? After spending the $30 million in 30 days, Monty still isn't allowed to own anything. At first I still didn't think there would be that great a challenge, but in fact, as Monty discovers, it's hard to spend $30 million without actually purchasing anything of lasting value.
The movie progresses through Monty's spending spree on hotel rooms, parties, employees, the minor league baseball team he played for and finally his campaign to NOT be elected mayor. Other candidates spend millions to get elected; why not spend millions to convince people not to elect you? It's also interesting to see the reactions of his friends (especially Candy) to his squanderings, because another condition to the will is that he can't tell anyone what's going on.
It's really quite a lot of fun, and Pryor and Candy together make it worth watching.
8/10 - A bright and breezy comedy.
So, of course, everyone thinks he's a nut. including the lovely Lonette McKee (ATL, Men of Honor), who is supposed to oversea his spending.
The film features the late John Candy (Canadian Bacon) as his BFF. If you are not familiar with his work, this is an excellent choice.
The executives who formally give Brewster the money reminded me very much of the Dukes in "Trading Places". As it is, one of them is played by a man who seems to have spent much of his career playing bombastic executives: David White, aka Larry Tate on "Bewitched". He went from playing an executive in "The Apartment", to playing the boss of a man married to a witch, to playing an executive who gives $30 million to a rule-trashing cool dude. What a country indeed!
Anyway, the movie is at once a parable about profligacy and also just a plain old fun comedy. Brewster is a guy who, quite simply, knows how to party. Like I said, it's not the funniest movie ever, but you definitely get some laughs out of it.
The movie is based on a very catching idea. Such situation captures imagination at the first glance. However that's all. This film fails terribly to make any use of this great situation. Nothing really happens in this film. Our hero tries to spend the money, that's it. No adventures, no catches. There are two twist in the plot. One is when some investment returns actual money making the things worse. Unfortunately that's just a moment, no implication is present at any later point in the movie. (To be honest, nothing really has an implication in the plot. Random events lead to no consequences, that's the guiding idea behind.) The other twist is one of the most cliché you could imagine. Someone hired by those who would like to see Brewster fail to acquire the 300 millions tricks him to still have money before the deadline to spend everything. The clock is dinging and there comes a quick solution. Whoa...
If you try to imagine what would you do for just a minute with such opportunity, you'll certainly have hundreds of better and more exciting ideas than those in this movie. The plot is simply boring.
Regardless of the performance of the actors, the characters are boring too. There is no interaction between the main characters and it is annoying how unrealistic their reaction to the events is. Everyone is in total apathy except for Brewster.
If you can imagine what would you do in Brewster's shoes, keep it at that level, don't ruin it by watching this empty story.
Overall, the film is entertaining, nothing more, nothing less. It is also a nice introduction in allowing today's younger generation see the great man himself Richard Pryor and what a great talent he was.
Richard Pryor & John Candy did not work together enough, and this movie makes up for that loss. This film allows Pryor to do his manic over the top behavior just perfectly. It allows Candy to do his humor well too. The support cast seems to be well fitted with the stars and the show goes smoothly and funny without going too long.
Monte Brewster is a minor league pitcher for the Hackensack Bulls when the movie starts, who wins a game & promptly gets into trouble at a bar fight celebration after the game. He and Candy compliment each other well especially at the court hearing. Then they are amazed to be bailed out by a stranger who has been taking photos of Monty.
From Jersey, the stranger takes them to a law office in New York City where Monte finds out he is rich from his Uncle Rupert Horne. The catch is, does he want to be $1 million dollars richer or $300 million richer? In order to get the $300, he has to waste $30 million dollars and not have anything tangible to show for it in 30 days. From this premise, the insanity of Pryor takes over and fits perfectly.
He arranges for the Bulls to play the Yankees, hires a huge staff including his buddy Candy, & when his staff presents him with an unexpected $10 million dollar profit which puts him back where he started, he gets a desperate idea to spend the extra millions. With 2 shady characters running for mayor, Monty runs using "Vote None of The Above" as his campaign slogan. One reason I like this movie so much is my favorite political throw away line in any movie:
"I'm asking people not to send any money to my campaign. I'm telling you to keep your money, your going to need your money after this election."
I keep hoping those words "needing your money" aren't true after our election of Obama but he seems to be spending money fast than Monty. Maybe when he is done in office, he could star in a remake of this one?
John Candy is actually youthful and exuberant in this too. Rick Moranis has a cameo too. Great to watch. "Brewster's Millions" is a lot better than so many other comedies today, and I wouldn't be surprised if it gets dusted from the vaults again by Hollywood... I actually think director Walter Hill (48 Hours) did a good job. This really holds up well through the years.
Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
Believe it or not but this story is actually based on a novel from 1902 and there have been many film adaptations (as well as theatre productions). The funny thing is these older films don't have quite the same impact, for example...the 1945 version sees Brewster having to spend a mere 1 million Dollars in 60 days or less to inherit 7 million (slight alteration from the original novel which has a full year to spend the 1 million). Now that feat would probably be relatively doable these days.
The plot has always been one of much debate though it must be said. A rich old relation leaves Monty Brewster (Pryor) a tough decision in his will, he can either take 1 million Dollars no questions asked right away or he can take the challenge. The challenge being he has 30 days to spend 30 million Dollars and not have any assets (that he doesn't already own) at the end of it. Further to that he must receive value for services of anyone he hires, he cannot buy something expensive and just destroy it and he can't just give stuff away as gifts. He can only donate 5% to charity and gamble 5% away, plus he cannot tell anyone of the challenge. If he manages to do this by the 30 day limit he will inherit 300 million Dollars, if he fails he gets nothing, not even the 1 million.
Now this has to be a real nail biter of a decision and one that is sure to draw discussion after you've seen it. Its like that age old question...what would you do if you won a vast amount on the lottery? Personally I'd be more inclined to take the 1 million and run because surely in this day and age (or even back then) it would be impossible to spend 1 million per day for 30 days. The fact you cannot own anything by the deadline is not only painful but just impractical. The main reason being if you had that kind of money the first things most folk would buy would probably be property, cars and gifts...all of which you can't do with this challenge. If you really really think about it, it would be incredibly hard to do. But of course the lure is the 300 million, money to literately burn, but failure results in zilch.
A great concept for sure with added imagination and teamed up with some stellar 80's casting. This movie really can't go wrong, what better way to produce good comedic scenarios than having an everyday bum needing to spend spend spend on whatever he likes. The film practically writes itself, you know what to expect when you read about it and having the crazy unpredictable force of Richard Pryor in the lead is a surefire winner. Sure enough its enormous fun watching Pryor go from zero to hero with his fortune. He walks around New York like he owns the city, he's hiring people left and right on exorbitant salaries for menial tasks, he's allowing people to pitch wacky preposterous inventions and ideas to him for funding, making bad bets, throwing big bashes, running a protest campaign in the local elections for Mayor which would cost tonnes of money etc...
The sequence where he buys a rare stamp (the Inverted Jenny) and then posts it is actually very clever indeed, I would have never thought to do that. Although I'm not sure if a stamp that's just over 70 years of age (in 1985) would be usable for actual postage, I could be wrong. Another clever idea (although part of the plot) was hosting an exhibition game between the local baseball team Brewster plays for and the Yankees, again I wouldn't of thought of that.
Whilst watching questions do pop up in my little brain though. Even if he didn't manage to complete the challenge wouldn't he be able to stash amounts he earned through whatever venture in a bank account somewhere for later. If its not part of the 30 million I'm sure you could hide earnings, especially bet winnings or stocks and shares earnings. The other thing that hit me was his electoral campaign for Mayor which he was winning hands down, if he lost the challenge he could easily of kept that job. I don't think the company that was in charge of the challenge could take that away from him. Really I'm sure there could be ways of staying rich even if you did lose the challenge.
I wouldn't really say I'm nitpicking but simply putting more thought into what I would have done if it was me, just like the lottery question. This is just one of those happy-go-lucky 80's productions that was extremely light-hearted and warm. As I said anyone can enjoy this with the ever dependable Candy in full flow with his funny fat faced expressions and mannerisms. Pryor shows he could do lovable easy comedy roles just as well as more edgy adult orientated ones and of course look out for an early Rick Moranis role. Not forgetting the great range of character actors and familiar faces supporting the main leads. A near perfect old classic underrated comedy with a fun story, fun performances and a happy ending.
This movie is based on earlier movies and the critics did not like this one that much. I have not seen the earlier movies (though would like to) but I enjoyed this movie. Richard Pryor and John Candy are both good, clean actors and comedians and the jokes are seriously funny in this one. It is quite amusing watching his friends wonder why Monty gets upset when he earns money and is joyous when he looses money.
The whole purpose of this is to force Monty to get so sick of spending money that he won't blow away the money that his great uncle has earned. The lawyers want the money because if Monty fails then they get the 300 million. They don't think Monty can do it though, but when it seems like he is succeeding, they get scared and try to defraud him out of $20,000 so that they still get the money. Thus it becomes a competition with very high stakes. Monty looses nothing if he fails, but if the lawyers fail then they can be up for fraud.
The interesting thing about it also is how people all come to bludge off Monty for the money. People swarm around him wanting jobs and simply money, and others try to swindle him, but Monty doesn't care. The fortunate thing is that when he wins, everybody is going to think that he is broke and they are not going to bother him anymore, while Brewster sits on millions of dollars. His friend Spike and the security guard show their friendship by collecting money for him after, so we can see beyond the movie that Brewster will remember them for their generosity.
The cleverest thing Brewster did was run for mayor and then withdrawal at the last minute. This was a very fortunate occurrence that there was a mayoral election on at that time, because it would have been very difficult to get rid of it otherwise. The clever thing though was buying a very expensive stamp and then mailing it. It was this action that worried the lawyers and made them act against him.
The critics did not like this movie but I do. This is a clever movie and Pryor and Candy are decent actors. Candy plays a good friend who is always there for Brewster and we know that this friendship will last even though Brewster has become a millionaire.
Favourite Quote: Spike to Monty when they are in gaol: I don't think this is a race thing because I'm in here too (its funny to me since having seen Hanging with the Homeboys a few days earlier).
As I have said already, Brewster's Millions is not a perfect film. The plot is on the predictable and simple side and I can understand why one might find it bizarre too with its concept and all though I did find it refreshing in a sense on the other side of the argument. The ending feels rather abrupt and could have been rounded off better, and also while others may be divided on whether to perceive this as a flaw, Brewster's Millions does have a theme that is firmly rooted in the 80s which may date it slightly.
However, it is nicely filmed, with striking locations and nice cinematography and editing, while the soundtrack is nicely 80s without dating the film. The film does work in its humour, the script is funny without the need to be too sophisticated and smart, while the odd situation also made me chuckle. The direction is good enough, the film is paced well and it is a good length. And although the story is quite simple, there is enough material to engage throughout, and a lot of it is to do with the fun chemistry between Richard Pryor and John Candy. Pryor I can find loud and unfunny at times, and other times where he is a lot of fun, his performance here is the latter and it does help that his character and most of the characters here are likable, while Candy really does shine. There is also a hilarious cameo from Rick Moranis and Jerry Orbach is always good value.
All in all, Brewster's Millions is a fun film with heart even if there are parts/aspects that could have done with more work. 7/10 Bethany Cox