1993 Directed by Keva Rosenfeld. Starring Steve Buscemi, Christopher Lloyd, Brendan Fraser, Sam Jenkins, Linda Hunt.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 4, 1994
With a screenplay originally written in 1935(!), Twenty Bucks is a fresh, witty, and thoroughly unique look at, well, $20. In a nutshell, what director Rosenfeld has done is to follow the course of the titular bill from its arrival onscreen (via an ATM) to its final, inevitable destruction. The bill, however, is little more than an inspired linking device used to get us into the lives of the people who come into contact with it. Linda Hunt (Year of Living Dangerously) is the first of many such people, playing a mystical street person who believes the bill's serial number may be the key to her long-sought lottery millions. From there, we move to a young couple on the verge of marriage (Fraser and Jenkins), where the bill is given by the father of the bride to his soon-to-be son-in-law as a symbolic gift. Fraser (the Encino Man, if you care to remember) is great here as the blue-collar working stiff about to marry into wealth. The $20, however, changes everything. Next we see Buscemi and Lloyd, a pair of small time crooks who team up on an all-night convenience store robbery spree, with dire results. Over the course of the film's 90-odd minutes we're given a look into the lives of all manner of people, and along the way, the errant bill somehow manages to change the lives of everyone who pockets (or tries to pocket) it. As a linking device, it's a hell of an idea (though similar tricks have been used: Jorg Buttgereit's 1991 horror opus Der Todesking, comes to mind), and after a while, you begin to realize just how powerful and poetic a simple $20 bill can be. Characterized by fine performances all around (Lloyd is genuinely chilling, for a change), this is the kind of film that inspires endless Java-fueled late-night debates at the Magnolia Cafe and like places, and as far as I'm concerned, there's hardly a surplus of movies like that.