Sony // 2002 // 92 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // May 24th, 2003
A Movie about Mad Cash, Crazy Peeps, and Sexy Muthas
Dre Mitchell is a thirty-year-old ass out loser bum living with his divorced moms in 'da heart of 'da hood. He has a trifling chickenhead girlfriend named Tasha who's constantly prowling for cheese and bling bling (and a way of sharing her STDs) His best fiend Max is a grimy G whose krunkalicious momma Dre fantasizes about having sex with. The neighborhood pimp is a hardcore ho baller specializing in girls of all shapes, sizes...and physical abnormalities. And Boom, the local drag queen, is constantly rolling out, accosting Dre for favors. Just when it seems like his life can't get any more irritating, a local thug steals a bag of benjamins from an armored car accident and hides it in Dre's backyard. Like they say, good news travels fast, but when it's tied up with gettin' paid, it goes baller supersonic. Soon, everyone in town is trying to get on Dre's jock, hoping he will spread around a little of his new, ill-gotten ice. But Dre is clueless. He doesn't even know the loot is there. But that doesn't mean that he won't spend the rest of the day fighting off the advances and insolence of his neighborhood. After all, people will do some crazy sh-izzle For Da Love of Money.
For Da Love of Money is a movie that wallows in blatant, borderline offensive stereotyping hoping to try and milk out some meager laughs via cheap shots. It's not that the foundational premise (local loser is mistaken for having a huge ill-gotten bankroll) is inherently flawed or couldn't support good character or situational humor. Nor are the actors guilty of completely exploiting their race for the sake of a snicker. No, in the less than subtle hands of writer/director Pierre, For Da Love of Money stomps all over that pulp friction cultural tightrope that so many comedians comment/complain about, to wit, that only a movie made by black people could get away with the patently politically incorrect portrayals given to the characters here. For Da Love of Money is offensiveness in the guise of farce. The men are all shiftless womanizers. The ladies are all over-sexed, disease-ridden bitch hos. The local pimp dresses like Dolemite with Down's syndrome and Boom, the local drag/slag homosexual is so flamboyantly gay that both Peter Allen and Quentin Crisp have recently risen from the grave specifically to take advanced mincing lessons from this ghetto queen. Not a single archetype is avoided or unexploited. Like a love letter to the Aryan race, For Da Love of Money uses race as an excuse for stupidity, a lack of morals, and laziness. And we're supposed to be laughing at it, too.
But even when it ventures beyond the painful pigeonholing of an entire culture, For Da Love of Money can't seem to find a viable, productive level of levity. The jokes are all of the same "yo mama -- yo wiener -- yo stink breath" variety, the site gags are almost all sexual in nature (and shown off screen to maintain the light "R" level of the movie) except for the midget prostitute who rides a scooter (nothing sexy about that), and the plot has no direct linear arch. The unraveling vignette structure constantly highlights that there is nothing really substantial for the film to hold on to, so it really bucks wildly and uncontrollably toward the end. For Da Love of Money suffers from the intrinsic flaw of being someone's -- in this case, triple-slash Pierre's -- individualistic idea of what comedy is. Unfortunately, it's as insular and insipid as said private in-jokes can be. You can't fault the entire cast's fault for what one mad mindset has them doing and saying. Maurice Patton knows his Boom is nothing more than a GLADD boycott waiting to occur, so he tries to infuse the character with as much childlike wonder and earnestness as possible. Similarly, Sacha Kemp's slutty Tasha is all innuendo and crudeness, an abstract portrait of mean spirited misogyny. Yet she never lets us forget that, deep down inside, she is an attractive, complex, and decidedly vulnerable woman. If it looks like the actors are out of sync with their "creator's" vision, it's because they truly seem to be. They want to be starring in a wild and brash comedy of color, using truth and subtlety to sell silly and sexy laughs. But pompous Pierre only wants them as highlights to his hyperactive star presence as the cyclonic center of this welfare fantasyland. It doesn't help that Lone Moniker is the thespian equivalent of a pinball, bouncing off the scenery, the other actors, and the limitations of his words and vision hoping to score some points of value. But his is nothing more than just an extended effort in Tilt and Reset. Like the majority of For Da Love of Money, from its humor to its characterization, there is no payoff or no punch line to the proceeding 90 minutes of bedlam.
On the one hand, Columbia TriStar should be commended for taking a chance and releasing this low budget, demographically skewed film on DVD. This is not a movie that will sell millions (or even thousands) of units. But on the other hand, they give it such a low rent, buzzing below the radar presentation that you can smell the flop sweat stinking up their bottom line as well. As for image, this is a full frame presentation of a print that was obviously conceived differently in its original aspect ratio (we learn this from the disclaimer that opens the film). We appear to get an open matte, not a pander and slander optical printer ballet. The picture quality is fair to poor with bad color correction (a couple of characters appear orange), lack of clarity, and meager depth of contrast. Equally uneventful is the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound offering. Frankly, with the flat, front channel heavy aural presentation, it's hard to see just what the other speakers would (or could or even can) do. There is limited use of hip-hop and rap music, and even when present, the system never comes alive to create a sense of immersion. Cap this DVD off with three trailers, each showcasing different genres of low-budget urban filmmaking, and you've got a below average package for a completely sub-par film.
While it's true that there are a lot of things that people will do in the name of a paycheck, here's wagering that no amount of moolah will get a once bitten film fan to sit through this dead headed daffiness more than once. For Da Love of Money is, for da love of God, awful.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Rated R