Tag Archives: John Candy

Brewster's Millions

Monty Brewster (Richard Pryor) is a minor league relief pitcher who still dreams of the majors even though he’s a little long in the tooth. His best friend and catcher, Spike Nolan (John Candy), seems a little more content with their lot in life, just happy to still be playing ball alongside his best bud. But life is about to change.

A long, long, long, long-lost uncle of Monty’s has just died, leaving him, his sole living heir, millions of dollars. But there’s a catch:

  1. He has 30 million dollars to spend in 30 days.
  2. He MUST spend the entire 30 million, and if he does so, he’ll inherit a further $300M.
  3. But he can’t acquire assets. At the end of 30 days, all the money has to be gone, to the penny, but he can’t have a single thing to show for it.
  4. He can’t willfully destroy the stuff either.
  5. He can donate 5% and gamble 5% but that’s it – the rest must be spent.
  6. He can’t tell anyone what he’s doing. Not his best friend Spike, not even the paralegal Miss Drake (Lonette McKee) hired to keep tabs on all his receipts.

Ready, set, go! Imagine. Imagine leaving that meeting with a frothy sense of urgency. Imagine leaving the bank vault (this is 1985: it’s all cash) with a pile of money. What’s the first thing you’d do?

Monty makes a valiant attempt: he buys priceless stamps and slaps them on postcards, he prepares his minor league team to play the New York Yankees, he runs a phony mayoral campaign, he treats a lot of people to a lot of champagne lunches. But some of his attempts backfire; his high-risk investments somehow pay off, even his long-shot gambles hit big. Now he’s got to spend those dividends as well!

But the real comedy is that the people close to him look on in horror. To them, he seems to be burning through his windfall at an alarming rate. He seems crazy. And he is, more or less: this mandate to burn through money recklessly is crazy-making. Richard Pryor is a lot of fun to watch in these moments. He can hardly believe his “luck.” And the chemistry with John Candy is pure pleasure. But it leaves you wanting more: more Pryor, certainly, and more unfiltered Pryor in particular. Brewster’s Millions is a PG comedy, and Pryor is not at his best at that rating. So there are times when you’re almost seeing him reigning himself in. I’m certain that a very exciting director’s cut of this movie exists somewhere – or at least out-takes worth their weight in gold. Still, this is a fun, silly movie, not quite as good as others in its genre, but worth it for Pryor alone.

Stripes

Stripes came out before I was born, but it’s still a good source of inspired team work between Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. 10 fun facts about a classic comedy:

  1. Ivan Reitman and Dan Goldberg wrote the movie specifically for Cheech and Chong. When their manager demanded way too much money, they took out (most) of the pot humour, found the script got smarter, and flagged down Bill Murray to star. Judge Reinhold, in his first film appearance, gets what little remained of the weed jokes.
  2. Bill Murray only came aboard about 2 weeks before filming began. He didn’t show up to set until the 3rd day of filming because he’d been following his precious Chicago Cubs around the country. In the very first scene shot, in which he grabs LxxsQSI.gifheavy luggage out of a trunk, he genuinely injured himself and his exclamation “Oh my balls!” is the real deal.
  3. Bill Murray insisted that Harold Ramis should be tapped to play his best bud. They were friends in real life of course, but Murray also wanted Ramis’s help in re-writing dialogue, the better to improvise with. Dennis Quaid was auditioned by the studio to play Ramis’s part. He was married to P.J. Soles at the time. If you squint hard, you can spot him as an extra in the graduation scene.
  4. Soles’ part was meant to have been played by Kim Basinger but she too wanted too much money, so the part went to Soles who had just finished shooting Private Benjamin in which she wore the exact same uniform.
  5. The department of defense for some reason approved of the film. They not only let them film at Fort Knox, they allowed soldiers to be extras. A real army barber buzzed all the men, who had not been told how short their haircuts would be. John Candy was particularly depressed. Murray and Ramis being the “stars” got to keep theirs a little longer.
  6. The cast and crew had a 2-week drinking binge when they found out John Lennon had died.
  7. John Larroquette ad-libbed the line “I wish I was a loofah” and then had to explain to director Ivan Reitman what a loofah was.
  8. A 9-minute scene in which they drop acid and parachute out of a plane was filmed but cut – BUT is included on the DVD extras.
  9. John Candy wasn’t well known; he bonded with the cast by inviting them over for spaghetti and to watch the Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard fight.
  10. When Bill Murray shouts  “But we’re American soldiers! We’ve been kicking ass for 200 years! We’re ten and one!” – the last is a thinly-veiled reference to Vietnam, written by Ramis.