Leslie Greif directs this adaptation of Ray Cooney's hit British play, a throwback farce about mistaken identity. Chevy Chase plays Henry Perkins, a listless late-middle-aged executive in a wax fruit company; his wife, Carol (Penelope Ann Miller), is similarly bored, a struggling sculptor and housewife in Hoboken, NJ. On his way home from work to a surprise birthday party Carol is throwing, he accidentally switches briefcases with a Russian mobster. He opens the suitcase at a local bar and discovers five million dollars inside. He rushes home and tries to arrange a flight to Barcelona for Carol and him so they can take the money and run. Detective Sergeant Genero (Armand Assante) shows up later; he saw Henry at the bar and is suspicious of his actions. The Perkins, along with their friends Vic and Gina Johnson (Christopher McDonald and Alex Meneses), concoct an elaborate plan to fool the detective, which is only complicated by Carol getting sloppy drunk, the arrival of a homicide detective (Kevin Sussman), a famous gallery owner (Rebecca Wisocky), Henry's boss (Robert Loggia), a frustrated standup comic cabbie ( Guy Torry), two more identical briefcases, and the party guests.
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When a movie title has the word "funny" in it, viewers have an expectation that the film will incite at least a few laughs. In Funny Money
, mild-mannered white-collar accountant Henry Perkins (Chevy Chase) literally stumbles upon a bag full of money, through a series of improbable mishaps. Mayhem ensues when he finds himself the illegal recipient of a few million dollars. Since it's mob money--and since he doesn't want the tough guys to think he stole from them--Henry does what anyone would do: He steals from them and then tries to outsmart the Mob. This movie isn't without a few chortles, but the problem with Funny Money
is it's not nearly as humorous as the characters seem to believe it is. And the people we most care about are given thankless roles. Penelope Ann Miller can always be counted on to balance sexiness with astute comedic timing. But here, as Henry's put-upon wife, Miller's skills are wasted and spends too much time off screen. In the end, the film plays like a tired and overly long version of a Saturday Night Live
skit. --Jae-Ha Kim