Give It All Away (Brewster’s Millions, 1985)

Brewsters_Millions_PosterBack in 2008, Bill Gates retired from the day to day of Microsoft and had the plan to devote his fortune to charity. Twelve years of giving charitably, Bill Gates is now worth more than he was in 2008.

Monty Brewster is a down on his luck minor league baseball player who discovers he had a long lost rich uncle.  Monty is the last living relative and is set to receive $300 million on one condition.

Monty is required to spend $30 million in thirty days. At the end of thirty days, he can only have the clothes on his back.

Monty takes the challenge, but finds quickly discovers the odds are against him. The Law Firm dispensing the money will gain all of the estate if they fail, and so they set about trying to sabotage him. His friends enjoy spending the money with him, but Monty has the problem that people assume he does not want to go broke and he cannot tell them why he is spending like a madman.

The seventh adaption of a book from 1902, this version is written by Timothy Harris (who wrote Trading Places, another “rich men put the poor through the ringer” story) and directed by Walter Hill (48 Hours and the Warriors), this version is a vehicle for the late Richard Pryor.  And it is a fun vehicle.  The antics as Monty tries to spend his way to being broke is supported by terrific cast.  John Candy is Spike, Monty’s best friend.  This is pure Candy charm at work, emphasizing a nice and goofy nature with just a hint of being a womanizer.  Lonetta McKee is the person assigned to keep track of Monty’s spending, but unaware of his full situation, she is repulsed by his squandering of money when it could be used for good.

Thirty five years later, Brewster’s Millions still holds up as a fun comedic farce.

 

Cut Rate Superman (Superman III, 1983)

superman-3-posterSuperman three came three years after Superman II, riding high on it’s success, but behind the scenes things looked bleak.  There was a divide between some of the cast and the Salkinds over how they had treated Richard Donner.  Kidder was not really feeling up to participating.  To address this, Perry sends her off to the tropics, while sending Clark to do a story in Smallville at his High School Reunion.

Rally, this seems like a plausible idea.  There is a rich cast of characters to draw from.  And they draw from Clark’s past with introducing Lana Lang, played by Annette O’Toole (who was later brought on Smallville to play Martha Kent).  O’Toole makes a fetching Lana Lang.

The other big addition to the cast was computer genius Gus Gorman.  Played by comedy legend Richard Pryor, he gets a lot of blame from folks for this film.  He plays his traditional nervous twitchy type of character.  Except, I have a hard time pinning this on Pryor.  Richard joked to Johnny Carson about wanting to be in a Superman movie.  He felt the script was terrible…but the five million dollar paycheck was to good to pass up.  Gorman is a computer super-genius who starts working for Ross Webster’s company.  He writes a program that pays him fractions of cents that the company loses daily due to mathematical rounding up of numbers.  He makes millions and is brought to the attention of Webster (played by Robert Vaughn).  Webster and his sister Vera are schemers and want to take over the world.  Ross also has his own Miss Tessmacher, Lorelei (Pamela Stephenson).  Her primary purpose is some impressive cleavage.  They use Gus to create a supercomputer and also work to get Superman out of the way.  They manufacture Krytonite and use tar in place of an ingredient they cannot fine.  The result is that Superman goes dark.  He starts causing damage, being means, getting drunk.  And then he fights Clark Kent in a junk yard.  This is without a doubt the high point of the entire film.

Webster is like a second hand version of Lex Luthor, and the character has for less weight.  You can see the giant hole left by not having Lex Luthor or a larger scale villain (such as Braniac, one character they thought about using in Superman III).

The smaller character moments are okay, like when Clark sees Lana’s son being bullied in a bowling alley and sneezes to shoot her son’s bowling ball into the pins.  But for the most part, the film falls flat.  It is not a very good film and Reeve swore off the role of Superman.

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