For Love Or Money
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Michael J. Fox, Gabrielle Anwar, Anthony Higgins, Bob Balaban, Michael Tucker, Dan Hedaya, Fyvush Finke, Udo Kier. (1993, PG, 96 min.)
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., Oct. 8, 1993
Right off, let me get it out of the way that I like Michael J. Fox, as an actor and a presence, which should define this review for you. Since Family Ties I've liked his work, enjoyed him as a genre unto himself in Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success, Bright Lights, Big City and the Back to the Future movies. Fox's performance was right on target in Paul Schrader's Light of Day -- despite its maudlin slipperiness, still one of the great rock movies, and though not quite there, at least an admirable effort in Casualties of War. Hell, I volunteered to see the fingernails-on-chalkboard Life with Mikey earlier this summer. Some of this new movie, For Love or Money, is even fun. Fox, as a New York City hotel concierge, gets to combine his boyish charm, nonchalant arrogance and almost joyous selfishness in the ways that serve him best. The film bustles with the details, highlighted by a scene in the park where four concierges from major hotels huddle over a park table as Fox brokers the swapping of tickets to hot Broadway shows, important sporting events and rock concerts. The movie sucks. It has an idiot story: Fox wants to build a luxury hotel and is in love with would-be singer and department store worker Anwar, who is not interested in him. Through a friend, he is wooing Higgins, a major financial player and international venture capitalist, who may give him the money for his hotel. As a favor, the married Higgins asks for an off-the-books hotel room for an afternoon rendezvous with his girlfriend, who is, surprise, Anwar. Coincidents continue to collide throughout, finally crushing all in their way -- director, plot and even Fox. More hotel and less romance would have helped a lot, especially because Fox is perfect as the concierge. Consistently better than the movies he's in (with a few exceptions), Fox seems to be trying to find his way as a Hollywood superstar with a dreadful taste in scripts. Sonnenfeld (former Coen brothers cinematographer, now, thanks to The Addams Family, an A-list director) actually has a handful of ideas about how to be an interesting director, the movie constantly redeems itself with small scenes which, given the overall dreadfulness of the writing, is saying a lot. If he ever connects the dots, he may make a hell of a movie. This is nothing more than a lot of dots.