Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’m flicking though the channels one night and see Chevy Chase is on the Tavis Smiley show talking about some new movie he has out called ‘Funny Money’.  Tavis didn’t seem to interested in talking about ‘Funny Money’ as he just was interested in talking about HIS favorite Chase film, ‘Foul Play’.  ‘Foul Play’ Tavis?  Over ‘Caddyshack’?  Come on man.  Anyway, aside from the fact that Chevy is apparently no longer welcome on Jay, Dave or even Jimmy he acquiesces to Tavis and talks about ‘Foul Play’ for a bit, but finds a way needle in some ‘Funny Money’ conversation.  He says that of all of the movies he’s ever made, this one in particular kept the cast and crew in stitches from start to finish.  There were moments that they could barely finish scenes they were laughing so hard.  He also mentioned they shot in Romania or somewhere, and they had to shoot 10 pages a day, where normally I guess they shoot 2 pages a day.  Curiously enough, I happened to possess Chevy’s little DTV movie ‘Funny Money’ and was curious to see if it could make me laugh like it apparently made Chevy and them laugh.

Based on a British stage play by some dude named Roy Cooney, ‘Funny Money’ is the madcap tale of wax fruit chemist Henry Perkins (Chase), a boring, loyal, routine laden cat who on the subway ride home from work accidentally switches briefcases with some surly European bloke.  Yeah, the old briefcase switcheroo plot device.  So the briefcase has five million in cash and bearer bonds, and Henry is like ‘Cool’!  He tells his wife Carol (Penelope Ann Miller) to pack ‘cause they’re blowing this popsicle stand.  Sweet Carol is confused, then she’s sees the five mil and simply becomes scared.  Now things start getting wacky.  Armand Assante shows up as a grizzled New York Cop, who observed Henry and thinks he’s up to something, but will shut up to whatever it may be,

for a fee.  Guy Torre pops in as the joke telling standup comedian / cab driver ready to take the couple to airport.  The couples best buds played by Christopher McDonald and the smokin’ hot Alex Meneses are on board for the mayhem, Robert Loggia shows up as Henry’s Viagra addicted boss, Kevin Sussman plays a cop investigating the murder of the surly European dude who he thinks is Henry since Henry’s briefcase was floating with him in the river, and the surly European dudes boss is on the way to kill everybody and get his money back.  Oh yeah, all this takes place in the middle of a surprise party that Carol has planned for Henry.

‘Funny Money’ is certainly a throwback to those whacked ensemble comedies of the sixties (I guess.  Maybe Fifties?), that starred Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe and the like that was based on some play by Neil Simon or somebody, which is the vibe it sends straight from the opening credits.  Now if you liked those comedies (I didn’t, but my mom did), you’ll probably have a greater appreciation for ‘Funny Money’.  Even if you did like those comedies, getting passed the first 25 minutes or so of ‘Funny Money’ was torture and I was desperately waiting for some of this humor that Mr. Chase was experiencing to transfer to me.  All seemed lost, but guess what?  The movie was saved and I can tell you why in two words… Armand Assante!  Armand Assante is one funny dude people.  I recently reviewed a movie with Mr. Assante in it called ‘Digital Reaper’, and though the movie sucked, Assante’s ultra gruff, profane, violent cop was great in it.  In ‘Funny Money’ he simply took that same cat and put it into this farciful comedy and was damn funny doing it.  Once he showed up in this thing, it finally found some sort of comic groove and actually delivered some scenes of genuine hilarity.

I gotta hand it to director Leslie Grief who managed to squeeze in an amazing amount of chaos and mayhem, and keep it somewhat organized, in a movie that was obviously shot on the quick AND the relatively cheap.  No, this wasn’t high art, and you could ask yourself why everybody in New York has the same style of briefcase, other than fact it perpetuates more slapstick hilarity.  But Chevy wasn’t half bad in this, Guy Torre was able to crack a few good one-liners and of course it had Armand Assante in it.  If there’s a hall of fame for actors, then by God this guy should be in it!  If I EVER make a movie, Armand Assante will be in it.  Look, if you can survive the painful first act of ‘Funny Money’ and you don’t despise wacky slapstick comedy, you might want to give it a chance. 

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