- Movie Rating -

Brewster’s Millions (1985)

| May 22, 1985

Brewster’s Millions is an idea that should be and could be a lot of fun.  An ordinary schlub is given the chance to spend (and not give away) $30,000,000 in 30 days and come out the other end completely broke, and owning nothing more than the shirt on his back, plus keep the contest a secret.  Reward: $300,000,000.  This is not a new idea.  It was first conceived in a novel by George Barr McCutcheon in 1902 and was first filmed by Cecil B. DeMille in 1914 (which is now lost), later as a vehicle for Fatty Arbuckle in 1921 and has been filmed several times since.

I have only seen the Fatty Arbuckle version and I can say that it was quite clever.  He played Brewster as a guy who is giddy about spending the money but circumstances keep the money coming back.  But, oh how I wish the latest version were nearly as clever or as funny.  In this new edition, Brewster is played by Richard Pryor, a washed-up Minor League baseball pitcher for the Hackensack Bulls whose recently deceased Great Uncle (Hume Cronyn) issues the challenge.

Based on the fact that Brewster is played by Pryor, his buddy is played by John Candy and the director is Walter Hill, you’d think that this movie would be made with a lot of skill.  Given that pedigree you might even think it would be a great comedy.  But the movie is surprisingly flat.  Pryor is, once again, given a role that never allows him to tap into the dangerous comedic waters that are present in his concert films.  Here, the producers are hell-bent on turning him into the flattest, nicest, most uninteresting nice guy that they possibly can, just as he was in misfires like Bustin’ Loose, The Toy, In God We Tru$t and Superman III.

The plot isn’t much better.  Once the issue is challenged, the movie should come up with a lot of fun ways to complicate things, but the logic center isn’t there.  Once Pryor finds a way to get rid of the money he stops because the movie needs to continue.  The script overcomplicates the story and doesn’t have fun with it.  With that, we in the audience become frustrated.  That’s too bad because this is a promising idea with a lot of potential.  Why did it have to be so slow, so listless, so overcomplicated.  This should be a wild comedy with a lot of big laughs.  Instead, it just kind of lays there.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy