Plot: What’s it about?
Monty Brewster (Richard Pryor) has just inherited a massive amount of money. He is the only living relative of cranky Rupert Horn (Hume Cronyn) who had married a black woman some time ago (this accounts for how Brewster is black and Rupert is white). Telling Brewster at a reading of his will, he describes how his father caught him smoking a cigar and consequently how he was locked in a closet and wasn’t allowed to leave until he finished the box. Horn wants to use this same logic with Brewster in regards to money. Why, you may ask? Because he can! It’s Rupert’s goal to make Brewster so sick of money that he won’t know what to do. So the terms of his will are simple: He has 30 days to spend $30 million dollars. However there are a few catches to this plan. First, Monty can’t tell anyone why he is spending the money, and if he does the deal is off. And secondly, he can’t have any assets when the 30 days is up. If he can manage to spend the money and not tell anyone of the deal, and not have any assets then he gets the “real” inheritance…$300 million dollars. This is, of course, quite a change for Monty who has been bailed out of jail by a photographer representing the estate of Rupert. He doesn’t have to take the deal, though as there is a “chicken” clause in which Monty can take a cool million and keep it; thereby risking nothing.
Perhaps the perfect movie for the 80’s, where excess ruled and in the era of Ronald Reagan, we were all possessed by material things and money was king. Richard Pryor does well here as he is joined at the hip by his teammate, Spike Nolan (John Candy). It’s frustrating for us to see him so blindly spend the money, but he learns to catch on and actually starts doing some good. He gives some of it to his friends and invests in every long shot stock and bets on every high odds horse at the track. They all pay off. Finally, he decides to run for mayor of New York City as he sees that the competition is no good for the job. He has no inclination to actually do the job, his campaign is “None of the Above”. As the weeks progress, we can see the people who care for Monty who try to help him, all the while he is spending money like drunken sailor in an attempt to gain his fortune.
As I mentioned before, this was the perfect movie for the 80’s as the material greed of money and the so-called power associated with it is almost sickening. Pryor makes it fun for us and this is one of the more laid back roles for him that kids can actually watch (certainly not something you can say about all of his performances). Yes, Pryor plays a washed-up baseball player who gets a second chance at making something of himself. It’s fun, but something that surprised me in the Production Notes: It’s theme and a movie name that has been used as early as 1914. Sit back, relax and if you haven’t enjoyed this little gem from the “me” generation, do so.
Video: How does it look?
This is the second incarnation of Brewster’s Millions on DVD, the first being one of the very low budget “Goodtimes” video. I have to say that I was more than happy to see that Universal has given this a brand new anamorphic transfer. At first, I tought that it was a misprint, but when I fired up the disc, it was indeed a fairly good-looking 1.85:1 transfer. The opening scenes do look a bit rough, but as the movie progressed so did the quality. Some of the outdoor scenes look very good, almost crystal clear, but for the most part it’s just a bit above average. While not the best transfer out there, it’s leaps and bounds better than the first version. If you’re a fan of the movie, then you just might have to buy this one again, as the video presentation is a definite improvement over the previous version.
Audio: How does it sound?
There’s not a whole lot to get excited about when it comes to the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track. This movie was a rather low-budget film 15 years ago, and as such the sound quality dates the film. Granted, even if this had been given a brand new 5.1 soundtrack, it still wouldn’t sound that great. Aside from some subtle things in the soundtrack, all of the action is limited to the center channel. Dialogue sounds clear though, as it fares a bit better than some of the films of the time. Quite simply, this serves its purpose and nothing more. Not as good as an improvement as the video, but there’s not a lot that can be done in this department.
Supplements: What are the extras?
A theatrical trailer, some cast bios and a few screens of production notes.