DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
FREE MONEY (director: Yves Simoneau; screenwriters: Tony Peck/Joseph Brutsman; cinematographer: David Franco; editor: Yves Langlois; music: Mark Isham; cast: Marlon Brando (Warden Sven 'The Swede' Sorenson), Charlie Sheen (Bud Dyerson), Thomas Haden Church (Larry Lundstrom), Donald Sutherland (Judge Rolf Rausenberger), Mira Sorvino (Agent Karen Polarski), Martin Sheen (New Warden), David Arquette (Ned Jebee), JP Bergeron (Lauter), Frank Fontaine (Sheriff Earl Knudsen), Roc LaFortune (Dwayne, train engineer), Rémy Girard (Louis, train guard), Alain Goulem (Brake-man Doug), Robin Leach (Himself), Christin Watson (Inga), Holly Watson (Liv); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Nicolas Clermont; Sterling Home Entertainment; 1998-Canada)

 
"It's not that bad that it's not worth checking out to see a grotesquely bloated Marlon Brando."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It's so bad that it wasn't even granted a theater release. But it's not that bad that it's not worth checking out to see a grotesquely bloated Marlon Brando with dyed red hair (including a bushy mustache) and a bald spot playing a mean-spirited bully with full vigor. Canadian TV director Yves Simoneau ("Mother's Boys"/"Red Eyes") never has a handle on this weird comedy, which works against him most of the time. Yet because the offbeat script by Tony Peck and Joseph Brutsman is so uneven and the acting is so brazenly bizarre, the film takes on an energy of its own that gives it a startling look like one has in their first car crash.

Feared prison warden Swede Sorenson (Marlon Brando), who has shot nine convicts in the back who escaped, reluctantly accepts that his teenager twin daughters Inga (Christin Watson) and Liv (Holly Watson) are pregnant and want to marry. But that doesn't mean he can't treat his sons-in-law Bud (Charlie Sheen) and Larry (Thomas Haden Church) like dirt and have them accept it because they are scared to death of him. Bud operates a wrecker truck, while dumb Larry is a short-order cook in a diner. The twins soon get homesick and force their hubbies to return with them to live with their dad. When the boys are fed up with being cattle prodded in their rear ends, lectured to by their Bible quoting father-in-law and forced to do odd household tasks for the bossy monster, Bud cooks up a plan to rob a train passing through town from Canada with unmarked old American money they are sending to Washington to be burned. The trouble is after the inept criminals pull off the job because the guards on the money train are even more inept than them, they have to contend with a fuming Swede who just had his brand new truck, which he loves almost as much as his daughters, stolen and wrecked during the train robbery. Also, back in her hometown after 14 years as an FBI agent is eager-beaver Karen Polarski (Mira Sorvino), daughter of the crooked judge (Donald Sutherland), the warden's dear friend. Agent Polarski is tracking down the Swede for all those prison escape deaths, and happens to intervene at a time when Bud and Larry are in the rubble over an ongoing feud with their father-in-law from hell. 

It's certainly no Coen brothers' Fargo (1995), a film that it resembles in so many ways by employing Swedish-Americans in the roles of either bad or dumb characters; but it's so nutty and hard to categorize that even though I suspect most will hate it there are those who will find it grossly funny and its moronic humor even a bit refreshing and a welcome relief from all the usual formulaic comedies that get theater releases. 

REVIEWED ON 4/10/2008        GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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