For Love Or Money Review
Michael J. Fox made this film as part of his production line contract with Universal and as such, the formulaic nature of the film is unsurprising. It’s a retread of the old clichés – shallow guy who only cares about money, eventually meets a girl, falls in love and sees the error of his ways. It’s a vehicle for Fox at his prime, and while it has the sweet-natured, sugary ‘feel’ accustomed to the actor it doesn’t have enough good comedy, or memorable characters to leave much of an impression.
Doug Ireland (Fox) is concierge at a sophisticated hotel in New York, who constantly deals in $50 handshakes and keeps the rich guests as happy as possible. He has a dream however, to renovate an old building that looks over Manhattan, into his very own hotel. The problem is, he needs $3 million to make it happen and he simply doesn’t have the money. He decides on a plan to get the money out of rich guest Christian Hanover (Anthony Higgins) in the form of a loan, so does everything in his power to please the man. Unfortunately, when Hanover asks him to baby-sit his mistress (Garielle Anwar), Doug begins to fall for the woman and must quickly decide whether he wants the ‘love’ or the ‘money’.
And you know exactly which one he chooses without even watching the film, because it hasn’t got a surprise anywhere up its sleeve. What stood out in one of Fox’s other middle of the road comedies Greedy, was the supporting cast, who elevated the film with some classic moments of laugh out loud hysterics. For Love Or Money doesn’t have that, and while Bob Balaban appears in both films, the difference is, in Greedy he is funny, in For Love Or Money he’s not. The film suffers from Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner’s rushed script, which doesn’t add any fresh ideas to the ‘guy meets girl’ story, and they struggle to make Doug Ireland’s character likeable, relying on his snide, shallow nature for comedy.
For Love Or Money is enjoyable though because it has no pretensions, and as a simple film taken for what it is, it hardly disappoints. Everything in the film is sugar coated, and while Doug only seems to care about himself, it’s forgivable because you sense he really wants to make his ‘dream’ come true, and that’s something everyone can relate to. The film’s highlight takes place at Hanover’s beach house, where he’s having a party with his wife and other guests. He learns that Anwar’s character Andy is on her way there, so he calls Doug telling him he has to stop her but it’s too late. What ensues is madcap slapstick, when several other husband’s suddenly accidentally find out they’re having affairs and have to keep the news away from their wives. It’s all great fun, and absolutely hilarious.
If anything the film is a little too simple, but it entertains and moves along at a decent pace, and that’s the most important thing. The main problem is that it doesn’t stand out, and will unfortunately remain just another one of Michael J. Fox’s romance infused breezy, comedies. Performances feel phoned-in, and the script requires more obvious humour, but it’s easy on the mind and the ‘dreams can come true’ message is as ‘feel-good’ as it gets. The hilarious ‘whose having an affair with who’ section of the film is definitely worth seeing, and the running joke involving the bell-boy who never makes two trips taking bags to a guest’s room, no matter how many bags they have, is sweet and amusing.
The image is presented in the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphic enhanced. It is a pretty good presentation that is sharp without being too sharp, though detail is a little limited. Black level is good, but at times colour and skin tones appear too red. The print is in immaculate condition aside from a couple of marks here and there.
The soundtrack includes both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. The DD 5.1 sounds awfully mono. Ambient sounds are nicely separated across the front speakers but are rarely noticeable in the rear speakers. Dialogue is clear but isn’t directionally used, appearing central and mono throughout. The DTS track is notably much better. It has a lot more depth and detail, and the rear speakers are noticeably active. This track immerses the viewer into the film, whereas the Dolby Digital 5.1 track felt front heavy. Even though this film doesn’t have grandiose explosions to test the home theatre to its maximum, the comparison between the two tracks, really provide a good example of the benefits of DTS. In this instance, the DTS is miles better.
Theatrical Trailer - This trailer is one of kind: it actually doesn’t show all the funny bits!
A decent, if forgettable, Michael J. Fox rom-com that receives a very average DVD release. Picture and sound are adequate but could have been better (though the DTS track is a great inclusion for those that have the ability to hear it), and the lack of bonus material is a disappointment.