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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Mad Money (review)

Oh, it’s completely implausible, sure, but rather enticing as well: could three low-level employees at a Federal Reserve bank really walk out the front door with wads of bills that had been destined to be shredded? Could they really do it over and over again? It makes me think of that Johnny Cash song about building a car out of parts he smuggled, over many years, out of the factory where he worked. It’s one of those stick-it-to-the-man fantasies that we all indulge in, and it works here on that level: as bright, cheery, satisfying fantasy, if a mere trifle of a passing fancy. And it works, too, as a celebration of female don’t-ignore-us indignation, as Diane Keaton (Because I Said So), Queen Latifah (The Perfect Holiday), and Katie Holmes (Thank You for Smoking) — all necessary but unappreciated workers beneath the notice of their male overlords — band together to pull off the one job no one would have expected of the gals who merely doing the cleaning up, of one kind or another. Well, they’re cleaning up now… The three stars are charming on their own here, however throwaway the final product is, but even more so when they’re onscreen together and their divergent but complementary charismas mesh into one appealing jumble. And thank goodnes director Callie Khouri has gotten back on track. She shot to fame for writing the go-girl revenge drama Thelma & Louise, and then disappointed us a few years back when her directorial debut, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, turned out to be, apparently, a secret plot against female sovereignty. Here, though, she resists any larger statements than “It’s fun to be rich, and it’s fun not to have to work for it, and it’s even more fun to outclever those who never expected you to be clever at all.”

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sexual material and language, and brief drug references

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
  • Sounds like Trifles, but with a happier ending.

  • MaryAnn

    What’s *Trifles*?

  • shoop

    “Trifles” is a one-act play by Susan Glaspell–one of the co-founders of the Provincetown Playhouse, where some of Eugene O’Neill’s first plays were performed. The story deals with the gruesome murder of a farmer, whose wife is in jail as the only suspect. Two neighbor women gradually discover a combination of seemingly inconsequential items and events (or “trifles”) that explain what led to the farmer’s murder. Not sure how well the connection to “Mad Money” holds, not having seen the film. But Glaspell’s work and career might be of interest to you.

  • Jurgan

    This “Trifles” you speak of…


    Was it the one with the dead bird?

  • shoop


    Yep, dead bird is present.

  • MaryAnn

    *Trifles* doesn’t sound at all lke *Mad Money*…

  • shoop

    Well, can’t speak for Goth Bunny, who first made the connection, but she might have been picking up on your line about “female don’t-ignore-us indignation”–which “Trifles” has, although in a very dark, deadly serious sort of way.

    The two heroines “solve” the murder while being ignored and patronized by the sheriff and the County Attorney (both men). And, they make a surprising, illegal decision in order to protect the farmer’s wife who did indeed kill her husband–they decide to hide the “trifles” that point to the conclusive motive (including aforementioned dead bird). Considering that one of the heroines is also the sheriff’s wife (defying both the law and her husband–pretty heavy stuff four years before we let women vote), Glaspell’s play serves as a piece of early feminist social history. That said, I reckon comparing this with “Mad Money” is kind of a stretch. Probably my wife has come up with the more apt comparison–“How to Beat the High Cost of Living,” a 1980 caper comedy featuring Jane Curin, Jessica Lange, and Susan Saint James.

    Finally, the missus and I did see “Mad Money” at 10:05 p.m. on a Saturday. We were the only two people in the theatre, except for an elderly lady who wandered in as the movie began and left a minute or so later. I imagine she must have been thinking, “Oh yeah, Flick Philosopher said to wait for the DVD…”

  • Jurgan

    Maybe she walked into the wrong movie. I’ve done that before.

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