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Featured DVD Review: Ca$h

August 13th, 2010

Ca$h - Buy from Amazon

Ca$h is a film with an incredibly generic name that opened in too many theaters for a limited release and got almost no reviews. I think the studio was hoping the future star of Thor, Chris Hemsworth, would be enough to help it at the box office. This was not to be. However, now that it is coming out on DVD, will it find a more receptive audience?

The Movie

The character we first meet is Pyke Kubic, played by Sean Bean. He's flown into Chicago from the U.K. to visit his twin brother, Reese, who finds himself in the local county prison. Reese is a low class criminal who was busted after robbing a dog track of $500,000, more or less. However, he ditched the money and tricked his partner into getting killed by the cops. Whith his partner out of the picture, Reese figures as long as his brother can find the money before the cops do, there will be no case against him and he'll be free to go. Unfortunately, Pyke doesn't have many of clues to go on. Just that the case with the money in it hit a white station wagon, with wooden panels. At first Pyke thinks this is a wild goose chase, but Reese makes a compelling point. If you're a working class schlub with a crappy car and $500,000 falls into your lap, the first thing you are going to do is buy a new car... and pay in cash. That's how you'll catch him. This is enough for Pyke to start investigating.

Meanwhile, we look in on Sam Phelan, the schlub whose car is hit by the case containing $500,000, more or less. ($625,731, actually) And he really is a schlub, i.e., a moron. He thinks this is free money and that he and his wife are now rich. His wife, Leslie, is more cautious and doesn't want to spend it, because she's afraid some Colombian drug lord is going to bust into their house demanding their money back. Common sense doesn't win out in this case and they splurge on new furniture, new bed, new TV... and a new car.

Needless to say, Pyke soon catches up with them and recovers the money. Well, the portion of the money they hadn't spent. Pyke is determined to get the rest of the money out of Sam and Leslie, something even Reese thinks is a bad idea. (He's more than willing to write it off as a "finder's fee".) But Pyke is determined to get absolutely everything he thinks he deserves.

This film has a really good premise, but it is hurt by poor execution. I really like the idea of an average couple going from a desperate financial situation to a sudden influx of cash, and then making them so desperate to pay back the money that they are willing to go to higher and higher extremes. This is a good setup. But, the progression from one part of the story to the other doesn't come across as natural. There are serious pacing issues throughout this movie.

There's also a strange message in this movie. I get the impression that Pyke is supposed to be almost likeable in this movie. He's a real man compared to Sam; he eats meat and not tofu, he isn't domesticated, he takes charge and isn't led around, etc. However, Pyke is also racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and in no way sympathetic. And it's not so much that Sam is "domesticated", but the fact that he is wooden that hurt the most. Finally, the attempts at dark humor fall flat and instead of enhancing the tension, they just get in the way.

(On a side note, the scenes with Sean Bean playing both Pyke and Reese on screen at the same time look off. It's a minor complaint looking at the big picture, but it was definitely noticeable.)

At it very core, there's a good story to tell here, but the script needed a complete overhaul to get to it.

The Extras

There are 10 minutes of deleted / extended scenes that can be viewed in one chunk and a 13-minute making of featurette. There is also an audio commentary track found in the Setup menu and not the Special Features menu. Stephen Milburn Anderson handles the solo track, but he is a little too easy on the praise and there are a few too many dead spots.

The Verdict

Ca$h is a film with an interesting idea at its core, but weak execution. Poor pacing, tonal shifts, and characters that don't hold your interest. The DVD has better than expected extras considering its short theatrical run, but unless you are interested in seeing Chris Hemsworth in a Pre-Thor role, this is safely skippable.

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Filed under: Video Review, Ca$h