1994 Directed by Richard Benjamin. Starring Melanie Griffith, Ed Harris, Michael Patrick Carter, Malcolm Mcdowell, Anne Heche, Casey Siemaszko.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 2, 1994
Sour is not the word for it. The milk obtained from this money is positively rancid. Foul in concept, Milk Money curdles upon viewing. The movie takes a recurrent narrative theme -- the hooker with a heart of gold -- and mixes it up with a suburban setting and a bunch of adolescent boys, one of whom, Frank (Carter), decides that this prostitute named V (Griffith) would make a perfect mate for his widowed dad (Harris). Of course this is a PG-13-friendly hooker and a suburbia straight out of Norman Rockwell. When three 12-year-old boys hanker to see a real, live, naked woman (instead of the diagrams they've been studying in biology class), they pool together their loose change (which amounts to $103) and ride their bicycles into the big city where they've heard such things can be purchased. There, they encounter V, who is seen plying her trade (which consists of feeding strawberries and champagne to some man in the back seat of a limo). In need of a fast hundred bucks, V agrees to remove her blouse for the boys in a scene chastely shot from behind. Since the boys' bicycles have been stolen while chained to a fence in the big, bad city, V inexplicably decides to steal her pimp's car and drive the boys home to suburbia. And, of course, the car stops dead in front of Frank's house. V decides suburbia looks pretty good and sticks around, Frank tells Dad that V is a math tutor, and Dad and V have lots of double-entendre conversations about her line of work. But even straightforward conversations adopt a sniggering sort of humor with lines like, “I feel a mammalian pull toward you.” Yet I have to admit that my favorite line of dialogue is delivered by Griffith in her Kewpie Elephant Girl voice: “I am a human being.” And my scariest moment? It's when Milk Money presents as a positive thing that this prostitute fits perfectly into dead Mom's clothes. (Keep in mind that not only did Mom die 12 years ago in childbirth but there is also a closet full of her clothing still hanging in the house. Has Richard Benjamin never seen Vertigo? Doesn't anyone involved here know how unhealthy this is?) Ed Harris' performance actually reveals a deft touch with light comedy. Unfortunately, he gets to play most of these scenes with Melanie Griffith, whose range is decidedly limited. And Roddy McDowell turns in one of his now-routine, one-dimensional villain roles. Overall, the humor in Milk Money leaves a nasty aftertaste and, consequently, your loose change might be better spent on other refreshments.