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Money for Nothing(1993)
Screen favorite John Cusack stars in the hilarious comedy for everyone who's ever dreamt of instant millions! After finding a bagful of unmarked $100 bills, there were a million reasons for unemployed dockworker Joey Coyle to give the money back, but he couldn't think of one! And when he decides to keep it, oh what a price he pays! The lucky discovery launches a buying spree and a series of uproarious events leading to Joey's outrageous attempt at sneaking out of the country past the media, the mob and the cops! If you're looking for a comedy packed with priceless laughs, pick up Money for Nothing!
For more about Money for Nothing and the Money for Nothing Blu-ray release, see Money for Nothing Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: John Cusack, Debi Mazar, Michael Madsen, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rapaport, Maury Chaykin
Director: Ramon Menendez
» See full cast & crew
Money for Nothing Blu-ray Review
And chicks for free.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 5, 2012
It's the answer to our prayers.
One-point-two-million-dollars. That's a nice chunk of change. Maybe not enough for any but the most frugal of unemployed twenty-somethings to retire on, but enough to live comfortably for most, enough to pay cash for a very nice house and a very good car and still have tons left over for retirement, education, everyday expenses, monthly bills, and some fun money. Oh, and taxes. Can't forget about Uncle Sam's cut of the bread. But it's a little harder to spend when it practically falls from the sky, when there's a moral quagmire attached to it, when the law is in pursuit, when flashing money around a blue-collar town is something that's done after hitting the lottery, not mysteriously coming up with two sacks full of Ben Franklins. Money for Nothing (no, it's not based on the Dire Straits song and the lead character doesn't install microwave ovens, but he does kinda-sorta get the chick for free) tells the story of a young man who stumbles upon a heap of cash but learns that being rich -- illegally, anyway -- isn't all it's cut out to be. "There's no such thing as a free lunch," he's told, and the cost of that money could be his freedom, or it could be his very own soul.
Joey Coyle (John Cusack) is a down-on-his luck Philadelphia dock hand who hasn't worked in weeks. He and his friend Kenny (Michael Rapaport) area headed back home from another day of nothing when Joey spies an old metal box lying on the side of the road he decides would make a handy tool chest. Much to his surprise, he finds inside of it two bags full of Federal Reserve Notes, totaling $1.2 million. Kenny insists that they turn it in, even as Joey promises to split the money with his friend. Kenny wants no part of it, and Joey's left with a big pile of cash to handle on his own. Suddenly, the story of the missing money is the big news all around town, dominating the air waves, water cooler gossip, and the talk around the city's bars. Joey's family is interested in the story, and his big brother Billy (James Gandolfini) states that anyone finding more than $200 without trying to return the money is in violation of the law and subject to time in prison. Joey's not deterred, but he does realize that he'd be better off funneling the money through illegal channels than stuffing it under his mattress. And so begins a series of funny and not-so-funny missteps as Joey's world comes crashing down around him and the law seems always hot on his trail.
Money for Nothing manages a nice little balance between morality tale, humor, and conversation starter. The movie goes from charming to funny to rather serious as it maneuvers through the progression of its plot, transitioning form initial excitement to uncertainty to fear. It engenders within the viewer the same moral dilemma Joey faces, the film challenging the audience to dig deep and decide whether they would keep the money or turn it it, to take advantage of good fortune or do the right thing. It's a complex question to be sure, the weighing of physical security with moral bankruptcy, not to mention the threat of the law catching up hanging over the decision. The best part is that it's rather timeless, the story perhaps even more relevant today with costs skyrocketing, everything from a loaf of bread to a college education quickly and without remorse on the rise. For the time being, $1,200,000 remains quite a bit of money, though certainly to hear the characters speak in the movie it doesn't go quite as far today is it did when the movie was released back in 1993. The moral of the story says that "easy" isn't always so "easy." It says that there's nothing wrong with good fortune, but it's the decision to pad the bank account or corrupt the soul that's the ultimate question, not which house to purchase or how many rounds to buy the lucky patrons at the local watering hole.
Money for Nothing holds up well a generation or so after its release; things haven't changed all that much, and the moral of the story remains the same. All that's really dated are the clothes and the cars and airport security (imagine Joey getting today's pat-down treatment!). But the real curiosity here is watching a movie that's littered with big names before they were really big names. Certainly both Michael Madsen and lead John Cusack were already name actors in the primes of their careers, Cusack fresh off his heyday in the 1980s with films like Say Anything and Better Off Dead to his credit, Money for Nothing an opportunity for him to stretch into adult scenarios and themes rather than the teenage roles he proved so adept at playing and the teenage problems he proved so adept at confronting. But for a few of his fresh-faced co-stars, Money for Nothing was something of a launching point. Benicio Del Toro, James Gandolfini, Michael Rapaport, and Philip Seymour Hoffman -- all headliners today -- can credit Money for Nothing as amongst their first films, and the picture benefits greatly from the quality performances they offer, all showing signs of the things to come for their careers. Hoffman in particular stands out as down-on-his-luck dock worker who sorts out before the police that Joey's got the money and who struggles with the temptation to turn him in for a nice cash reward. Rapport's take as Joey's metaphoric conscience, Gandolfini's turn as Joey's big brother, and del Toro role as a slick money laundering goon all allow the actors to show some range and much promise. Money for Nothing is a must-see for fans of these actors.
Money for Nothing Blu-ray, Video Quality
Money for Nothing stumbles out of the gate and never really finds its stride. This is a rough, worn-down, soft, sometimes even ugly transfer that has its moments where it passes as a fair Blu-ray image, but the majority of Mill Creek's cropped-down from 2.39:1 1080i transfer is no great shakes. The image proves consistently rough and riddled with spots and scratches. It's rather flat, with lifeless details and colors. Faces are pasty and many details appear far too smooth. Moderate banding and blocking are present throughout. Some edge haloing is visible, and flesh tones appear wildly uneven. Black levels are generally solid, however, never going too dark or too bright. Fans will likely be disappointed with the transfer, even if it is a little clearer and better defined than a standard definition presentation.
Money for Nothing Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Money for Nothing features a bland and flat but fundamentally effective DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. The opening music enjoys adequate spacing and clarity, though certainly the presentation is nothing to really celebrate. The track settles into a consistent mid-level feel, never really doing all that much except convey the most basic elements with enough clarity to make everything tick. Ambient sound effects are, of course, limited to the front and prove not at all immersive. Dialogue is steady and clear, rarely garbled, but not exactly pristine. This is a terribly basic track that's no better than a mediocre DVD presentation, even considering the lossless encode. It's good enough to get the job done, but that's not exactly high praise.
Money for Nothing Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of Money for Nothing, unfortunately, contains no special features.
Money for Nothing Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Money for Nothing is a solid little movie that's as much fun as it is thought-provoking serious. Audiences are challenged with every development to put themselves in the characters' place, to choose how they would handle various scenarios and why. The movie is well made and features a fantastic cast, perhaps one of the best retrospective ensembles of the 1990s, even if several of them weren't exactly household names when the movie first appeared on the scene. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Money for Nothing, unfortunately, fails to reach expectations. A rather poor video transfer, a mediocre lossy soundtrack, and no supplements make this a disc hard to recommend, but considering the dirt-cheap price and the relative quality of the movie, it wouldn't make a bad addition to the collection.
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Money for Nothing Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Wave from Mill Creek in May - March 25, 2011
On May 10, Mill Creek Entertainment will release 11 movies on Blu-ray: Betsy's Wedding, Big Business, Consenting Adults, Gross Anatomy, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, An Innocent Man, The Marrying Man, Money For Nothing, My Father the Hero, Straight Talk, and ...
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