In the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, Richard Pryor, in addition to being adept at opening things, perfected not only the "man out of his element" formula, but the nearly-as-popular "two men of different races begrudgingly getting into shenanigans together" with the stalwart Gene Wilder at his side. He even gave us the template for all 1980s "working-class fish out of water" movies to follow with his 1982 movie The Toy, which could also have been called "Slavery=LOL." The premise of The Toy is that a future porn star convinces his dad to buy a black man for him because he is amused by this:
And I swear to God I can't blame him, because if The Toy was two hours of that shot, it would be my favorite movie ever and I would have to quit my job because I would never stop watching it.
In 1985, Pryor was
coked up out of his mind riding high on the back-to-back hits The Toy and Superman III and looking for a new project. Luckily, he found a giant bag of cocaine Hollywood felt they had a perfect project for him: Brewster's Millions.
THIS BROTHER CAIN'T SWIM
Wait a second.
Who the hell is on the hundred dollar bill here? Edgar Allen Poe? LOOK OUT BREWSTER I THINK YOU HAVE BEEN HAD.
The movie opens with a shot of a baseball diamond in New Jersey, and a mysterious text crawl which leads me to believe that Dusty Rhodes will be making an appearance in this film. Already we're expected to suspend disbelief as apparently we're supposed to buy Richard Pryor as a minor league pitcher.
I mean seriously, he weighs like 110 pounds and his wrist is the size of a breadstick. His glove-to-body ratio is close to that of Charlie Brown. Okay so fine, Richard Pryor is Montgomery Brewster, a minor-league pitcher. And who's completing the battery?
Why, none other than
dead John Candy. He's busy dishing out the badmouth to the batter, who seems to have some fans. A lady heckles Brewster by calling him a "rag-off". Uh, okay. Monty responds by blowing her sweet kisses.
The batter indicates that IT IS ON and sends Brewster's first two pitches way out of the park, both foul. Tension builds, kinda, but time is called as there happens to be a train on the field, which is there to let everyone know that these "Hackensack Bulls" are a poor minor league team. During the time out, John Candy's character, Spike, trots out to the mound. Monty points out a man in the crowd sitting next to Ethan Suplee, excited at the prospect that he could be a scout.
Spike reminds Monty that this is Hackensack, and "No scouts come to Hackensack." So there's no benefit to being on a minor league team then? Do I actually have no idea how baseball works?
Hey look, Jerry Orbach.
Spike promises to buy beer if Monty strikes out this batsman so they can win the game. Monty then does so with some kind of fucked-up eephus pitch, which I swear to Christ I don't know whether it was intentional or just a result of it being the only way Richard Pryor could actually get the ball from the mound to the plate. I mean, the camera actually has to pan up to catch the flight of the ball.
When we next meet our heroes they're chatting up the same two women that were heckling them earlier. Spike seems to have his eye on the white woman, because no way in hell was 1985's America ready for John Candy to come down with a case of jungle fever. She also happens to be dressed like she's one of the shittier members of the Legion of Superheroes. Spike opens a beer for her with his teeth and she reacts accordingly. Those are twist-offs, dude. Apparently he never saw those commercials from the American Dental Association where they put an apple in a blender to try and scare you. START FLOSSING NOW OR BE PREPARED FOR A LIFETIME OF DELICIOUS SMOOTHIES.
Meanwhile, outside the bar, the "scout" from the baseball game places a mysterious phone call, as the opening credits inform us that the music was composed by some sort of vagina sandwich.
They all start flirting with one another, and literally 20 seconds later the guys are trying to talk them into an orgy. No shit. Amazingly, the girls seem into it, and they grab a bunch of beers and all start making their way out to the team bus. Man, dating seems like it was a lot easier in the mid-80s. Luckily, before it can get really disgusting, White-Pants Tight-Butt comes in, looking none too pleased to see the guy that struck him out hitting on his special lady-friend.
WE ARE THE NATION
Oh apparently it is Dmitri Young: "Get in the car fore I twist ya head off." Guy knows how to treat a lady. Honestly, if your romantic options are either an abusive boyfriend or a drunken four-way with Richard Pryor and John Candy in the back of a bus, I have no idea what the correct answer is.
"HEY! BUTT OUT, RAG-ARM!"
ohhhh that makes more sense
Then there is a bar fight, complete with the white girl breaking a chair on Spike's back. The fracas lands Monty and Spike in jail. Jerry Orbach shows up to let them know that there's no money for bail, and that the front office is washing their hands of both of them. He tells Monty that he should feel lucky that he was able to play professional ball for fifteen years. He breaks the news that they've both been given their releases and then he's off without another word. Man, it's like a page right out of Scott Hall's life.
Spike and Monty are then called in front of the Honorable Mother Winslow, who sets their bail at $3,000. Just as they're about to be pulled away kicking and screaming, an anthropomorphic bloodhound, introducing himself as "J.B. Donaldo", offers to post bail as well as pay any fines on behalf of the two. He claims he's representing a third party with a vested interest in Mr. Brewster, which leads Monty to believe that he's there on behalf of the Mets. He expresses his delight by making a Bill Cosby pudding pop face.
So the three of them head off to New York, with Brewster talking about playing for the Mets the whole way and J.B. never once suggesting that he may not be there on baseball-related business. This guy must be some kind of asshole to string him along like that. I mean it's not like he's going to interpret them squealing, "WE GONNA BE PLAYIN FOR THE MEEEEEEEETS" as some kind of wacky non-sequitor or inside joke. Sure enough, they arrive at a high-rise and Spike doesn't see the word "Mets" on the directory, so he calls J.B. out on it. J.B. says he was hired to track down Brewster and presents the card of his employers.
oh well as long as they are a professional corporation
Seriously, what a bullshit business card. The typeface is all offset and looks like it would barely fit in your wallet. If someone handed me a business card that included the words "a professional corporation," I would begin dialing the FBI before I had even read to the last "n." Somehow this business card convinces Monty that they're instead dealing with the Yankees. So he's understandably confused when he is shown into the office of the afore-typed Granville and Baxter, better known as Vincent Price and Mr. Belvedere.
This live-action Statler and Waldorf are joined by an intermediary, who informs Monty that he is the sole living heir of the recently-deceased Rupert Horn, of whom Monty knows absolutely nothing. It seems Horn recorded his last will and testament on Super 8, so it's time for a visit from the GRIM SPECTRE OF HUME CRONYN.
"What's the matter, Brewster? Never knew your great-grandfather was a honky?"
Horn expresses disappointment that Monty never made more of himself. That's pretty fucked up, never introducing yourself to someone when you were alive and then making them feel bad about themselves from beyond the grave. The vindictive old bastard relates a story of when he was a child and his father caught him smoking a cigar, so he locked him in a closet until he had smoked an entire box of them. He promises to do the same thing for Monty: he's going to teach him to hate spending money.
He then lays out the premise of the film, which is that Brewster has 30 days in which to spend 30 million dollars. At the end of the 30 days, he is not allowed to own any assets or have anything to show for it. If he can successfully get rid of the money in that time, he will earn his real inheritance: 300 million dollars. If he fails, he gets nothing. He must keep records of all his expenditures and cannot tell anyone else about the terms of his inheritance, or why he has to spend the money. Horn then cackles and causes me to pee myself a little.
An interesting thing to note here is that this is like the 30th time that this movie has been remade. Each time Hollywood makes a new version, the monetary amount increases and the stakes are higher. In the 1921 Fatty Arbuckle version, for example, Brewster had to spend like a million dollars within a year to inherit the remaining eight, and then in the 1945 flick Brewster had to spend $2 million in two months to inherit a total of $10 million. I think the original version in 1914 involved frittering away a sawbuck before the Kaiser crushes us under his hobnailed boot. I'm sure by the time they finally realize they've gone over 20 years since remaking this movie again, Jimmy Fallon will have to spend $100 million in 100 minutes to inherit a billion dollars. It will be shot in real time and the love interest will be played by, oh, let's say Mandy Moore.
There is a special "wimp clause" in the will: Brewster can opt to take a million dollars right now, in which case everything else will be left to the PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION of Belvedere and Price. Monty of course declines, because otherwise the title of the movie would be incorrect. Brewster's Million is not a good premise for a film. See also: A Million To Juan.
The evil lawyers explain that they are assigning a paralegal named Drake to the case in order to keep track of Monty's spending. CUE HOT LADY OF INDETERMINATE ETHNICITY.
"Oh hello, I can't hear you over my string bowtie."
Vincent Price and Mr. Belvedere exchange a look which instantly marks them as the main antagonists of the story, and from here on out, everything they do is so over-the-top evil and/or sneaky that I'm going to pretend they're talking to each other in internet memes.
Monty and Drake head over to the bank across the street where the money is held, picking up J.B. and Spike on the way. Monty starts acting like a complete maniac and hires J.B. as his personal photographer at ten thousand dollars a week and for pretty much the rest of the movie acts like he's flying on blow. HOW ODD. When they get to the bank, they see the $30 million stacked on three pallets in the middle of an enormous vault, and I think this is probably the single most unrealistic thing about the film.
Look at it sitting there, all smug.
The manager of the bank explains that they will be offering him the special 24% interest rate that they reserve for major corporations and "some of our Arab friends." Heh, the 80s were great. I bet that bank inadvertently financed the entire war on terror. Only, you know, the other side. So I guess that would just be "terror" then. Monty, catching on quickly, instead offers to pay the bank rent for keeping his money safe. He also hires all of the guards in his bank to be his personal security staff and instructs them to grab three million dollars cash and follow him.
He then immediately wins the bet because there are no more guards left in the bank so Mysterio swoops in and grabs all the money and then cackles and throws down a smoke bomb. Man, I so wish that were true. Instead, everyone heads outside where Monty has begun to draw a crowd with his entourage. He invites everyone on the street to lunch and calls a cab.
Holy shit it is Yakov Smirnoff.
Monty hires him to be his personal driver and to find him a fleet of limousines. Yakov manages to work in "WHAT A COUNTRY," but unfortunately Montgomery Brewster is a busy man and has no time to hear about how, were this Soviet Russia, the fleet of limousines would hire HIM. Monty takes everyone to lunch and then rents out the top two floors of a posh, unnamed hotel for himself and his lunch guests. He announces on live television that the following morning, he'll be looking for ideas he can invest in, and appoints Spike his vice president.
And 20 years later, someone on the Internet makes a joke about Richard Pryor fucking John Candy.
John Candy, of course, enters Monty's hotel room sporting a new suit and a solid-gold catcher's mask on a chain, claiming that "they made it for Johnny Bench and he never picked it up." I have trouble believing that, as Johnny Bench has always struck me as a man with taste.
Anyway, the real stars of this scene are the two effeminate tailors who are fitting Monty for a rented suit. I kind of doubt that there is such a thing as custom-made suit rental, but what do I know? This is another area where the movie fails to capitalize on just giving up on the already presented movie and instead following these guys. I mean come on, wouldn't you rather see the story behind THIS business?
Alec and Brad's Men's Clothiers. A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION. AND ALSO POSSIBLY BATHHOUSE.
Decked out in his new suit, Monty finally gets to meet Ms. Drake's fiancée, Warren Cox, played by the guy who played Decker in the first Star Trek movie. If you ever need to cast a mug douche bag in your movie, you probably can't do better than this guy, because he's making this expression in pretty much every screencap.
"Hello. Have you met my umbrella?"
Since Monty is trying to get into Ms. Drake's (or Angela, if you prefer) pants, he ingratiates himself to Warren by contributing money to his charity benefit (an alliance to ban contact sports). Remember, kids: if you're trying to impress that special lady, be sure to give her fiancée a huge wad of cash. Then offer to help him merge with V'ger.
Warren starts going on and on about the style of the hotel room, and it turns out his ex-wife does interior design. Monty hires Warren and his ex to design his office for him. The payday is too big for Warren to pass up, so he asks his bosses at his law firm for some time off.
Ho ho, bet you didn't see THAT coming!
I HAZ A PLAN
Meanwhile, Monty and Spike head down to the lobby of their hotel to find that pretty much everyone in New York City is there looking for a benefactor for their harebrained schemes.
I think that there's no point to this scene other than to have Rick Moranis make a cameo as Morty, king of the mimics. He's in the movie for all of forty-five seconds to parrot everything everyone is saying.
"I'm like an 'ex-eerox' machine!"
And he was never funny again.
The main investment that Monty makes is in the exciting world of iceberg futures. The poor man's Egon Spengler has a bright idea to stick diesel engines in icebergs and drive them to the Middle East in an attempt to cut down the price of ice water.
NO WAR FOR ICEBERGS. Alternate joke: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.
He also makes a bunch of long-shot bets, including betting on Loyola over Notre Dame in field hockey.
This is my favorite joke of the entire movie, because there's a question mark in the title of the article, as though the newspaper is unsure whether the two schools are actually playing one another. Loyola vs. Notre Dame? WHO CAN SAY
Monty's big plan for all of his money involves his beloved Hackensack Bulls. He has rented their stadium for a month and spared no expense in renovating it in preparation for an exhibition game against the New York Yankees. He has also flown the Bulls in to NYC via helicopter to practice and has bought the team new, terrible silk uniforms.
Honestly, worst baseball uniforms ever. They are wearing silk pullover collared shirts and shiny silk pants. It looks like an entire team of Chris Heroes. But I'm sure that uniforms that awful must cost a pretty penny. Seems like this Montgomery Brewster character is a deft hand at spending money creatively. I fail to see what could possibly go wrong.
ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US
Around this time, Monty's friends are becoming concerned by the speed at which he seems to be burning through his fortune, so they bring in an investment consultant, who advises Brewster to invest in assets such at stamps.
HALP THE PLANE FLYIN UPSIDE DOWN
I could be wrong, but I think 24 cents is pretty much what postage cost in 1985, so even if the stamp was a misprint, I can't imagine it would be worth much more than
As Statler and Waldorf cackle maniacally about the fact that Brewster has purchased a considerable asset, they find a Hackensack Bulls postcard in the mail.
"Having a great time, wish you weMOTHERFUCKER!"
Emboldened by the rush of being clever for once in the movie, the writers decide it's time for some good old-fashioned formula. Time to cheat!
Evildee and Evildumb fill Warren in on the conditions of the inheritance and promise to make him a full partner if he can manage to throw a wrench into the works. Warren, to his credit, responds the only way he knows how.
But perhaps even their chicanery is unnecessary, as it seems the iceberg idea has been bought out by Big Oil, all of his bets were winners, and Spike has invested Monty's money without his approval, which has netted Monty a cool ten million bucks… putting him right back where he started.
Yeah, pretty much.
Luckily, the television is there to remind him that there is a mayoral race going on between two less-than-reputable candidates who have been spending millions on smear campaigns. Brewster immediately calls a press conference to announce his candidacy to NOT run for mayor.
A joke about Florida goes here.
Practically the next twenty minutes of the film are overlapping montages. The following picture shows at least three montages going on at once.
And this one is just terrifying:
So Monty is campaigning to have people vote for none of the mayoral candidates, smearing them in the press as he does so. The two sleazy candidates meet in a parking lot and agree to sue Brewster for slander. Brewster settles out of court for $4 million on the day of the exhibition game with the Yankees.
I guess it should tell you something that he couldn't manage to buy more than three innings with the 1985 Yankees with thirty million dollars at his disposal. As the game is in progress, Warren stops by a furniture store to get a cash deposit back, and asks the score of the game from this guy
whose entire reason for existing is to be in 80s movies and give people scores to baseball games. Apparently the Bulls jumped out to an early lead, but sadly Monty gives up a grand slam in the top of the third.
This inevitably leads to a visit to the mound from Jerry Orbach and his weird side bulge.
Check it out. Bask in it. Even Richard Pryor can't stop staring at it. I just realized that seeing Jerry Orbach shirtless must be like gazing into Ghost Rider's penance stare. That silk shirt is none too forgiving. Check out how Richard Pryor's is just hanging off him, but every disgusting centimeter of Orbach's lopsided man boobs and (presumably) colostomy bag is out there for the whole world to see. Jesus Christ, he even has back fat. This is the skinniest fat man I have ever seen.
So the Bulls lose to the Yankees, Monty withdraws from the mayoral race, and he spends his last 38 thousand dollars on a … well I guess you can't really call it a celebration party, especially considering how unhappy everyone appears to be there:
I will always remember that this is the moment I stopped loving you.
Monty is awoken at three the next afternoon to the hotel manager telling him to get the fuck out and the effeminate tailors repossessing his clothes.
The last 10 minutes is so paint-by-numbers that you can probably predict it step by step with 90% accuracy, so I'll try to make it short and sweet. Brewster disappears into the New York afternoon and presumably does not catch the big story that night:
Oh man, Secretary of Defense Heller is gonna be PISSED. At least Salvino still has the Intercontinental title.
As he shows up to the law offices of ill repute, Warren meets him in the elevator and presents him with the twenty thousand from the furniture store.
aw man what
With twenty thousand bucks and only five minutes until the deadline, Monty concedes defeat and heads in to sign away his fortune.
I'M IN UR VESTIBULE, WATCHIN UR DUBIOUS BUSINESS DEALINGS
"This is sooo much better than a lap dance. For starters, I'm not weeping."
Cox then does an amazing Randy Savage impression and spills the beans, as there are only three minutes until midnight and what could be the harm, right?
Oh Warren, you fucking moron.
"MOTHER FUCKER I WILL KILL YOU"
Monty cold cocks the cracker, who then threatens to sue. Monty offers to settle out of court for twenty grand in cash, but Warren is savvy enough to have learned to tell time.
I AM GOING TO NEED A LAWYER
I AM ONLY A PARALEGAL
ARE YOU FUCKING STUPID I AM OFFERING YOU TWENTY GRAND
ALLOW ME TO PONDER THE ETHICAL RAMIFICATIONS OF SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU I AM ABOUT TO LOSE THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS
OH RIGHT LET ME GET YOU A RECEIPT
Most exciting scene in the movie.
WRITE FASTER WOMAN
Excited. Smug. Smugcited.
MR. T ATE MY BALLS
Director: Okay now Angela, your fiancée just lied to you and broke a few laws, your cokehead pseudo-boyfriend just won three hundred million dollars, and you're presumably off to get double-teamed by a tiny ferrett man and a three-hundred-pound guy who probably smells like sauerkraut. Let's get a look from you that would encapsulate all of that.
And… that's it, apparently.
So, to recap: working-class man in high society hijinx = COMEDY GOLD. Also, if your name is Tovah Feldshuh, get a stage name for God's sake.