We’re staycationing, and the best way to enjoy it of course is to get our movie on. Here’s the list more or less. Some of these movies I’ve already watched and were chosen from conversations I’ve had with Jill. Sometimes we talk about current issues and I reference people, usually lawyers for some odd reason. I then download the movie so she can see for herself.
Brewster’s Millions – (Watched two days ago) The movie’s premise was the question Richard Pryor’s character had to deal with. While on his last leg as an aging minor league baseball player, a rich uncle he never knew passed away leaving him an inheritance of $300M on the condition that he first spend $30M in 30 days. Easy you’d think, except (from the Wikipedia page) ‘he may not own any assets that are not already his, and he must get value for the services of anyone he hires. He may donate only 5% to charity and lose 5% by gambling. And he is not allowed to tell anyone, even Spike (his best friend). Brewster decides to take the $30 million challenge.’.
His uncle’s goal was to make him sick of money, and possibly although not clear, teach him that being rich isn’t as great as it is cracked up to be. I was always impressed with the story which seemed like a classic and true enough from the Wikipedia page it turned out to be an adaptation from a 1902 book of the same name. It’s worth clicking that link to see how it was different from the 1985 version. It seemed better as it focused on the main character’s deteriorating personal relationships as a result of obsessing over money which is sort of the point of the movie to begin with.
I loved this movie because you try to figure out how to spend $30M without accumulating assets, and later on for other reasons. One of which was of course the great Richard Pryor, whom I eventually developed a deep respect for as a comedian and performer.
Another reason although inadvertently was a lawyer character in the film who acted as his uncle’s executioner, making sure everything is in order and Pryor would abide by his uncle’s wishes. This character eventually became my idea of what a lawyer ought to be – steadfast and reliable, the man whom everyone can rely on would do his job. It doesn’t matter whether the job seemed outrageous or even silly. His job was to assure the will is followed to the letter and that’s all there is to it.
Lawyers in movies are generally devious, malevolent characters and this has a couple of those too. But seeing this person intrigued me and eventually made me realize that the core of most professions whether a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or even politician etc. are borne from respectable and honorable reasons, and that if any of these were tainted it is the individual’s fault.
The Verdict – Another lawyer story. Before John Grisham and his excellent stories most of which I lapped up was this Paul Newman starrer. I wouldn’t be surprised if Grisham was influenced by this movie because it’s almost as if he wrote it.
Newman is a down and out lawyer relegated to chasing ambulances and visiting funerals to peddle services to grieving kin. I am not sure anymore how he found redemption, and I will go ahead and spoil the movie by saying he is victorious at the end, but I’ve forgotten how he did it and I’m watching it again with Jill to find out.
Grisham’s novels are a lot the same. It’s fairly clear in his novels who the good guys are, and his bad guys are absolutely clearly awful, cowardly and terrible people. Unlike a typical mystery thriller there is no guessing as to who did what or when and how. In my favorite movie adaptation ‘The Rainmaker‘ starring Matt Damon and Claire Dames, everyone knows these at the start. The question is, how will the protagonist lawyer do what is right against clearly overwhelming odds either brought about by the bad guys (nothing but profit HMOs, slick attack dog law firms), external factors (corrupt judges, inept police) or in the case of The Testament, the protagonists’ own fallibility in the form substance abuse.
The rest of the movies I’ve lined up are:
Anchorman 2, The Legend Continues – Because Will Ferrel.