Sony // 1992 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron // June 18th, 2002
Johnny can resist anything...except love and money. Especially money.
Johnny and his brother Seymour are two street level flim-flam artists, conning the suckers and marks as only two penniless brothers can: by recycling old Fox TV show bits. After getting pinched, Johnny is given a chance by the judge to redeem his miserable life. This is easier said than done, however, since John's only noticeable skill is offensively mimicking every other ethnic group but his own, and the patience to deal with a brother who has the attention span of a hyperactive shrew. While performing both frauds in fact, as well as in the inducement, Johnny meets Stacey, a sultry African queen whose river he desperately wants to traverse. In order to impress (and stalk) her, he gets a job at Dynasty Credit Card Company (slogan: Don't marry Joan Collins without it). Unfortunately, everyone working in upper level management maintains their luxurious lifestyle through massive credit fraud, blackmail, illegal exports, and gangland style killings. With the help of good cop Joe Santos (no, not the masked Mexican wrestler) and a sudden transformation into Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny defeats the bad guys, gets the girl, and discovers he is pre-approved for an American Express Gold Card.
This movie belongs to Damon Wayans. He wrote it, he stars in it, and, frankly, he deserves all the letter bombs. While he has made a professional film with good performances, stunts, and locations (gotta love Chi-town!), it's still much ado about usury. Basically what he has done here is take all his pseudo classic comedy bits from In Living Color and meld them, rather unsuccessfully, into an intense action thriller about your credit report. If you ever wanted to know why your Visa bill is so high or your credit rating so screwed up, Mo' Money offers a rather disheartening answer: everyone working in personal finance is unabashedly crooked. There is, conversely, one other aspect to the film that is even more unsettling. Whenever the characters interact as part of the story or drama, they are articulate, witty, and intelligent. Whenever it's time to jack up the joke factor, they become loud, piggish, and infantile. A smarter screenplay with the forced comedy removed and some fresh, intelligent humor added would make this a moderately good action thriller. As it stands, one winces at the gay and mental retardation stereotyping, and wonders why there is this much murder and mayhem in a so-called comedy.
Columbia TriStar only offers a full screen version here but frankly, no amount of anamorphic or widescreen histrionics could help this look like anything other than a schizophrenic made-for-cable movie. Still, the picture is decent: clean and sharp. The soundtrack, by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis of The Time/Janet Jackson fame is serviced well by the two-channel Dolby Surround Sound, but it's as dated as Paula Abdul and the Sherman Oaks Galleria. Trailers are the only special feature offered here, which indicates that, when thinking about spending "mo' money" on this project, the studio said "no my Wayans brother."
There is some clever dialogue, even if the main comic set pieces are as funny as exceeding your spending limit. This movie definitely suffers from multiple screenplay personality disorder. So, the next time you are in desperate need of a tank of gas, or a box of ammunition, and the sales clerk snottily informs you that your card has been "declined," you can thank Damon Wayans for blowing the lid of the underlying corruption in the plastic money market. Pawnshops and loan sharks are looking better all the time.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers