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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Funny Money
Funny Money
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // March 27, 2007
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Mike Long | posted April 2, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

When I critique a movie and DVD, I attempt to add my own unique approach to the review. Be it in the introduction or in the body of the review, I try to use a perspective or make a comment which is exclusively mine. However, I'm afraid that with my review for the film Funny Money, I am going to say something which has most likely been echoed in every article about the film: "What happened to Chevy Chase?"

Chase stars in Funny Money as Henry Perkins, a mild-mannered employee at a wax fruit company, who cowers to his boss, Mr, Feldman (Robert Loggia) and lets others take his ideas. While riding home on the subway, Henry accidentally bumps into a man and they switch briefcases. When Henry inspects the case, he finds that it contains $5 million. Meanwhile, Henry's wife, Carol (Penelope Ann Miller), has been having a busy, yet less exciting day of her own. First of all, she's been planning for Henry's surprise birthday party. Secondly, Carol's dream of becoming a true artist take a big leap when famous art promoter Madame Virginia (Rebecca Wisocky) takes a liking to Carol's work.

So, imagine Carol's surprise when she's ready to tell Henry the big news and he arrives home commanding her to pack a suitcase and prepare for a trip to Europe. When Henry reveals the contents of the case to her, Carol insists that they forego Henry's wild plan to flee the country and try to give the money back. Henry insists that the owner of the money will only want to kill them. Then the real excitement begins. Genero (Armand Assante), an undercover cop who's been observing Henry's odd behavior, arrives to question Henry. The couple's dinner guests, Vic (Christopher McDonald) and Gina (Alex Meneses) appear on cue to fulfill their roles as decoys for the surprise party. All the while, Henry is trying to maintain his composure and make arrangements to get out of town. Will Henry's plan come to fruition, or will the constant stream of guests foil his scheme?

Funny Money is based on a play by playwright Ray Cooney, and if the making-o featurette on this DVD is to be believed, the play was a hit on the London stage. For a good portion of the film, director Leslie Greif is essentially re-staging the play on a set and filming it. I've seen this done in other movies and it's a technique which I find annoying, but that's just the beginning of the problems with Funny Money.

Put mildly, this is a great train-wreck of a movie and its problems are myriad. Let's begin with the most rudimentary, the technical flaws. Funny Money is a low-budget film which had some scenes shot in New York and some in Costa Rica, but the bulk of the film was shot on a set in Romania. And the movie looks like it was shot on a set in Romania. The Perkins' apartment is big and elaborate, but it looks like a set. The transitional shots used to establish location look like something out of an 80s sitcom. Some shots are out of focus. The oddest thing in the film is the editing. I can only assume that the editor was trying to create the frenetic pace that this farce strives for, but the cutting only succeeds in feeling unnecessary and some shots don't match.

Once the basic premise is set into motion, Funny Money is meant to be a comedy of errors, as more and more people come to the Perkins' residence and Henry gets more and more desperate to keep the money a secret. And yet, there is nothing funny in Funny Money. Seriously, I didn't laugh once. The "fast paced" dialogue simply feels clunky and the "absurd" twists feel labored. Instead of seeing more characters arrive, I just wanted to see the movie end. The movie's repetitive nature and the annoying characters makes the film feel much longer than its 98-minute running time.

The most regrettable issue with Funny Money is the acting. The movie is filled with familiar faces and all of them look like they simply want to get their paycheck and leave. Armand Assante mumbles through his role and I honestly couldn't understand a word that he said. Penelope Ann Miller tries to play hysterical, but she just comes off as shrill and annoying. The usually reliable Christopher McDonald stays in the background too much. And then there's Chevy Chase. What happened to the man who made some of the funniest movies of the 80s? It's clear that he tries to recapture some of his famous manic zeal here, but he's either not trying hard enough or he's defeated by the material. Either way, the man who made "Fletch" a god in my eyes just doesn't seem to have it anymore.


Funny Money stumbles its way onto DVD courtesy of Starz Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks OK, save for the fact that it reveals some of the film's flaws. The slightly out of focus shots are very noticeable on this transfer. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a smattering of grain and no defects from the source material. There is a constant array of video noise on the solid backgrounds in many shots. The image is somewhat bright and the pastels in the opening credits were nearly blinding.


The DVD contains a Dolby digital stereo audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The dynamic range is stable and there are no notable defects to the track. The bulk of the sound comes from the center channel and the stereo effects are spotty at best.


The DVD contains a few extras. "All About the Money" is basically a 90-second commercial for the movie with clips and comments from the cast and director. The cast and director recount the ups and downs of shooting in Romania in "Looking for Comedy in Romania" (6 minutes). "Behind-the-Scenes" (15 minutes) is strictly on-set video which contains a few comments from the cast. The final extra is a POSTER & STILL GALLERY.

I'm not one to turn my back on past favorites, so I was certainly ready to give Chevy Chase a chance in Funny Money. But, this isn't the comeback vehicle that we've been waiting for. The film is sloppily made, poorly acted, and simply not humorous. Save your money, because this one isn't funny.
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