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Where the Money Is

Rated [PG-13], 89 minutes
Starring Paul Newman; Linda Fiorentino and Dermot Mulroney
Screenplay by E. Max Frye and Topper Lilien & Carroll Cartwright; Story by E. Max Frye
Directed by Marek Kanievska

IN SHORT: Start-up sparks fizzle, but not a dud.

Before we start, this is the kind of review Cranky hates to write because a flick with more positives is going to get what appears to be a negative rating, if you are a new reader and don't understand how we work. If that's you Click here now.

So . . . what's wrong with this picture? Nothing, actually. It's a perfectly average story with an OK script and direction. It is pleasing, intelligent, humorous and there's good chemistry between stars Linda Fiorentino and Paul Newman. Once the sparks get pulled out of the story mix, everything settles way down. The sense of elation that we expect from an underdog getting away with the big score "caper" flick just isn't here.

We start on a high school Prom night, for soon to be marrieds Carol Ann and Wayne McKay (Linda Fiorentino and Dermot Mulroney), the highpoint of their lives, before and after. Fifteen or so years later, Carol is a rehab therapist in a nursing home and Wayne works the night shift at an unspecified job. The fire is almost gone from their marriage, unless a certain song by The Cars reminds them of what was probably the biggest thrill of their lives.

Into the home, whose population seems to be 99 per cent elderly ladies, comes Henry Manning (Paul Newman). Manning, a notrious bank robber, suffered such a severe stroke in prison that he has been temporarily transferred out. Slumped in his wheel chair, with only the twitch of his left hand to indicate that anything at all is functioning within his body, Manning is essentially dead to the world. Except that Carol starts to notice things, coincidences if you will, that indicate to her that Manning isn't the vegetable that he appears to be. She makes it her duty to try to get a rise out of the man. Literally. (OK, guys. Linda Fiorentino in a nurse's uniform. Go to town. The flick does...) Until the lady manages to crack the man's shell, this flick is a very sexy and very funny good time. And Newman never speaks a word.

Carol's ultimate goal is to put the thrill back in her and Wayne's life. She's determined to get Manning to teach her how to rob the local bank, and get away with it. Oh, and Wayne, too. When the hubbie senses that something naughty may be going on between his wife and the con, he lays down the law, and Manning says "No problem." From that point on, the sexual sparks fizzle and we're left with an average caper flick.

Why didn't Manning flee the home? It's covered in the script. How did he pull off the stroke? It's covered in the script. How does the caper come about and is it logical that it could succeed? It's covered in the script. Is there an inevitable twist that puts the plans in jeopardy? It's covered in the script, a couple of times to keep things interesting. Where's the elation you're supposed to feel when the inevitable occurs? Heck if I know. The script has everything it's supposed to. The direction gets from point A to point B, but all the pizazz goes out of the story early on. It's up to the director to keep that chemistry sparking; in this case not letting the leads have any kind of flirtatious back and forth is deadly.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Where the Money Is, he would have paid...


Pay per view level. My parents, retired and eligible for dirt cheap tickets, would love this kind of flick. To those of us for whom Paul Newman is still a big star name (like me), if there's nothing else out there of interest you might risk first run ticket prices, if they're not too much above what your cable system will charge down the line.

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