Strange Bacon: ‘Free Money’

Last week I thought (rather foolishly) that when this title popped up on the Netflix recommended movies list it would be a good one to try. It fit all of what I was looking for; it was a black comedy, Canadian, a caper movie, and it had Donald Sutherland, Marlon Brando, and Charlie Sheen in it. After all, how could a film with the following qualities ever turn out to be less than memorable?

I think I set my expectations too high.

But really, who wouldn’t think this was a good idea?

I’m convinced now that this movie killed Marlon Brando. He must be close to 300 pounds, and his character, “The Swede” an enigmatic prison warden, is bland and uninteresting, bordering on clichéd. He may not have died for another six years, but this certainly started the process. Sutherland plays almost no role in the film to deserve his placement on the front cover, and an out-of-shape Charlie Sheen looks as though he’d rather be anywhere else other than on the set filming. For all his career problems on this one, I’d have to say I agree with him.

“Stella!”

The plot has all the elements of the beginning of a poor modern comedy. The Swede’s twin daughters fake pregnancy (No wait, one of them does… right?) In order to rope Charlie Sheen’s character, Bud, and Larry, played by Thomas Haden Church, into a shotgun wedding. Here’s where things get confusing. Firstly; The Swede is a psychopath who shoots prison escapees to the indifference of The Judge (Donald Sutherland.) This puts him under the watchful eye of an FBI detective (Mia Sorvinho) who is related to Sutherland’s character.

Meanwhile, Bud and Larry have become close friends, but both are struggling with their marriages. They are poor and without decent work, and finally the girls decide to move back in with The Swede (Although they take their husbands with them, leading to a typical house conflict.) By a twist of plot fate, one of Larry’s bar clients happens to run “The Money Train,” or a train that carries experienced currency to its final destination where it was to be disposed of. Having grown tired of life with The Swede (And 40 minutes of the movie where almost nothing happens) Bud and Larry agree to rob the train. What follows is amusing hijinks and unfortunate circumstances.

But here’s the problem. Not only does the film not know what it wants to be (too many confused interpersonal relationships for a comedy,) but its execution is poor. You’ll feel as though you’ve seen all the jokes before, and most of the character’s actions fit into a stereotype in one way or another. The twin girls are flat out annoying, and there is nothing worthy of holding your extended attention. Watching this was a task, and entertainment should never feel like a task. My advice would be to skip it, forget it, in fact, remove it from your Netflix list completely. This one is not worth your time.

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