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Make no mistake - Chevy Chase is a freekin' comedy warlord. He is a legend, and deserves to be mentioned as one of the great comedic talents of our time.
I was a wee bit reluctant when "Funny Money" arrived. A direct-to-DVD version of a play starring one of my heroes. I was worried - did Chevy still have it? Was he strong enough to carry a stage to screen interpretation? Rest assured, I had no reason to panic. Not only is Chevy Chase still damned funny, but this was a solid comedy on its own.
Chevy plays Henry Perkins, a mild mannered middle manager at a wax fruit factory (does that roll off the tongue or what!). He's so by-the-books that he and his beautiful wife Carol (the simply yummy Penelope Ann Miller) are in couples therapy, hoping to light a little spark in their relationship.
And oh what a spark they receive. As Carol is putting the finishing touches on a suprise birthday party for Henry, he's on the subway back from work, where he accidentally switches briefcases with another commuter. So instead of bringing home the remnants of his lunch and some invoices from work, he's carrying 5 million in cash.
By the time he gets home, he's decided the best course of action is to head out of the country with Carol and the cash and start a new life. But comedies never work out that way. Henry is followed home by Detective Genero (the always cool Armand Assante) who confronts Henry about his erratic behavior, and pinches him for a bribe for good measure. Meanwhile, Carol has decided that this is a good time to take up drinking, and proceeds to get sloshed. Soon, even more people arrive, including a bumbling homicide detective that discovered Henry's briefcase and a dead body (presumed to be Henry's as well), the Perkins' friends Vic and Gina (Christopher McDonald and Alex Meneces), a smartass cabbie, Henry's boss (Robert Loggia), a prospective buyer for Carol's artwork (Rebecca Wisocky), a ton of party guests and the real owners of the 5 million, who are none too pleased to not have it, and they have the black coats and guns to prove it.
As Henry runs from room to room avoiding arrest and getting shot, and Carol wanders around in a brandy-induced haze, the backdrop is set for all sorts of hilarity that a stage comedy can provide. The direction is fluid, the dialogue witty, and the cast is downright brilliant. THIS is the type of comedy that should be making a mint at the box office instead of stupid spoofs. It's formulaic, but the formula is tried and true.
I recommend Chevy Chase fans grab this - and anyone looking for a funny movie that doesn't have to be insulting to be amusing. The cast is strong and deep, and you can never get enough Penelope Ann Miller. She's still smokin' hot after all these years, and damned funny to boot.
"Funny Money" might be a little harder to find than some crapfest like "Epic Movie" - but it's well worth tracking down. It's an easy 4 cans out of 5, and well worth multiple viewings.
Added: Thursday, March 22, 2007
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