Before watching the movie:
Way back in my first year of doing this blog, I found a four-movie set of Michael J. Fox comedies. For practical reasons, the only one I ended up reviewing, or even seeing, was For Love or Money (though I prefer the other title, The Concierge), which happened to be the one I was least interested in. It was still a very enjoyable movie.
I recently remembered that and got around to tracking down the other movies from it that I hadn’t seen (I already own one from the set, which I’ve been wanting to watch again), and now that the musicals theme has reached its end, I can watch this one.
I know I’ve seen other stories of families backstabbing each other to get in good graces with the rich dying relative, but I can’t name any. The closest specific thing that comes to mind is a sketch by The Frantics.
After watching the movie:
The McTeague family has spent five years grubbing up to their elderly rich uncle Joe hoping to get the lion’s share in his will, but suddenly a new development pops up in the form of a smoking hot pizza girl turned “nurse” named Molly. Worried their years of spending every weekend with him, hiding their resentment, and letting each others’ skeletons out of their closets will soon be in vain, the cousins try to win back his favor by bringing in failed professional bowler Danny, the son of Joe’s estranged brother and Joe’s favorite nephew. Danny is appalled by his cousins’ conniving and crusades for his Joe’s best interests, but as much as he’s concerned for his uncle, he’s got a use for that money himself, and before long it’s hard to tell if he’s in it for his uncle or his uncle’s money.
This has a ton of characters to juggle, and doesn’t quite make it. Of course, most of the family, the kids and spouses, can be mostly ignored, and the main focus can be limited to Danny, Joe, and Molly, the cousins are played halfway between “chorus” and individuals. Ed Begley Jr. and Phil Hartman’s characters stand out, but the other two men fade into the gaggle of spouses and kids. Those two, however, seem to have slightly more story presence than Danny’s girlfriend, who is more important as an individual than they are as individuals.
This is one of those sneaky comedies that are too light to really be considered drama or dramedy, but I just can’t detect much overall humor. It could have gotten really wacky with all the backstabbing and subterfuge, but what I’m left with right now is more of a surprisingly deep exploration of greed and morality. On the other hand, in a few days I’ll probably just remember the most comical bits.
While no individual part seems slow, the beginning as a whole is paced a little slowly. They get some decent jokes out of the long setup for how the family feels about Joe, but it all takes up over fifteen minutes, by which point I was wondering if Fox’s character was actually a lot less important than I’d been lead to believe and played up after he got famous, as he hadn’t yet appeared. Then there’s a few scenes showing Danny’s life as a terrible pro bowler mixed among some scenes of the family, which feel like two completely different movies being intercut. Him being a washed-up bowler and needing the money to invest in a bowling alley is an unusual detail to his motivation, especially since once he joins the family, it’s only mentioned in passing, like he got recycled out of an underdog sports movie.
Watch this movie: for some laughs mixed through two hours of ethical dilemma.
Don’t watch this movie: expecting a farce like Clue with an inheritance.