Where the Money Is (PG-13)
Becoming middle aged can be a drag. You work a job, come home to the same old face, watch your belly start to sag. Most of us deal with it just fine: we think about vacation, fantasize about equally middle-aged co-workers, occasionally visit the gym.
But, for Carol Ann McKay (Linda Fiorentino) in Where the Money Is, the middle years are just too quiet. She'd prefer to relive the crazy days of her high school prom -- where she drove drunkenly on the wrong side of the road and almost killed a lot of people -- rather than continue as a geriatric nurse where she daily makes a difference in the lives of lonely old people. Luck comes her way in the guise of Henry Manning (Paul Newman), a famous bank robber who shows up at her nursing home, ostensibly the victim of a stroke.
Carol Ann is convinced that he's faking his vegetative state, and she tries several tactics, from lap dancing to pushing him off a pier, to get him to fess up. When she succeeds, she convinces Henry to rekindle his former profession and take her on as a partner in bank robbery.
This little caper movie showcases some good performances: Fiorentino is clever, sexy, and convincing as a woman whose peak experience was high school prom queen. Newman is yet better, interesting to watch even as he sits and drools in his wheelchair. The man has retained his craggy good looks (isn't it nice that men get to age that way?), and hasn't lost a whit of his acting prowess either. Dermot Mulroney, who plays Carol Ann's husband, does a fine job of showing off his impressive, gravity-defying abs. Nuff said.
Absent Fiornetino and Newman, however, this movie is as about as appealing as lime Jello in a nursing home. So help me, I couldn't help hating the amorality of Carol Ann and her co-conspirators. Last I checked, boredom, and fear of getting older are not good enough reasons to start carrying a gun and threatening a bunch of other schmucks who are just doing their jobs.
Screenwriter E. Max Frye and director Marek Kanievska might have pulled it off if they had remembered that caper movies require humor and sympathy to sustain an hour-and-a-half worth of audience interest. Newman's character provides some of it, but not enough to keep the movie afloat.
Call it another manifestation of middle age, but I have two words for characters who threaten folks with big ass guns because they're bored: grow up.