I Want Your Money

Movie Information

The Story: Ray Griggs lectures viewers about the evils of liberals, while an animated Ronald Reagan lectures an animated Barack Obama on why universal health care would be wrong. The Lowdown: A painful 92 minutes (that seems much longer) of simplistic lecturing that perfectly defines preaching to the choir -- and a dearth of fact-checking.
Score:

Genre: Overlong Commercial for the Tea Party
Director: Ray Griggs (Super Capers)
Starring: Ray Griggs, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Star Parker
Rated: PG

I have not had a more miserable time at the movies in many years, though I will admit that this bogus documentary did provide a few solid laughs. I refer to I Want Your Money, the latest effort from writer-director Ray Griggs of Super Capers (2008) fame. Super Capers garnered a whopping 0-percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a feat which I Want Your Money stands a pretty good chance at repeating. Hubris, ignorance and pathetic ineptitude collide here in an explosion of cretinism that makes Jackass 3-D look like the height of intellectualism.

Yes, I know it will be said that my political leanings are not in sympathy with Mr. Griggs’ film—and I’d be the last person to deny that. It will also be said that I would have given this movie a good review had it been signed by Michael Moore—and I dispute that. The day Michael Moore makes anything this slipshod and woolly minded, he will get a bad review from me. However, no, I do not subscribe to this movie’s political point of view, so that is a factor in my response to it.

From a political standpoint, I Want Your Money strikes me as willfully misleading. Note, for example, the way in which Griggs’ time line neatly leaps from LBJ to Jimmy Carter. Somehow Messrs. Nixon and Ford were overlooked as having been in there at all. Griggs also states that if JFK were alive today, he wouldn’t be a Democrat—one of those remarkable claims that have the benefit of making up the minds of dead folks. And a debatable assertion at best.

I suppose Republicanizing JFK is not too surprising, however, since Griggs is incapable of finding a sufficiently compelling conservative to make his point. As a result, he insists on bringing Reagan back from the dead—in cartoon form—to lecture a cartoon Obama on the evils of socialism. This, of course, does not require any rebranding of Reagan, but it is telling. It’s also telling that Griggs appears to have only the sketchiest understanding of what socialism is—though his talking heads are quick to insert remarks about how socialism isn’t “scriptural.” No comment.

Political content to one side, the movie is plainly speaking terrible. It begins with Griggs wrong-headed decision to inject himself into the proceedings. I will freely concede that he learned this from Michael Moore and that Moore started this approach and continues to use it—sometimes gratingly. That noted, Griggs makes Moore look like the greatest raconteur who ever lived. Not only does Griggs have an unfortunate tendency to sound like Sylvester the Cat, but also his charisma rating is in the negative numbers—and he completely lacks Moore’s sense of self-deprecation and compassion. Consequently, Griggs is never even remotely sympathetic, let alone empathetic.

Then there are the animated sequences. Again, this started with Moore and has, like JFK, been badly co-opted here. It’s not simply that the animations are crude. Moore’s animations tend to evoke South Park, and that style is certainly no threat to Miyazaki or even Hanna-Barbera. In that regard, I suppose it doesn’t matter that the animation in I Want Your Money is about on par with those Paramount Kia commercials local viewers are likely familiar with. The bigger problem is that the animated sequences—of which there are far too many—are not funny. They’re full of, well, the kind of “jokes” you’d expect from the guy who made Super Capers.

Just as bad—in a different sense—is the fact that the animated scenes, like everything else in the film, talk down to the viewers. You would think Griggs is under the belief that he is speaking to a theater full (dream on) of backward 11-year-olds. Even so, this hardly excuses the fact that the movie can’t keep straight what it has said in connection with what it says next. For example, the film’s big climactic boxing match between animated Reagan and animated Obama starts off by announcing a bout between Reagan “in his prime” and Obama. The movie then proceeds to work off the idea of how wondrous it is that this old guy can beat up the much younger guy. I suppose I could be accused of indulging in “spoilers” by revealing who wins the event. But if you really doubted how this movie would conclude, you must go through life in a state of perpetual amazement over such things as the car stopping when you step on the brake pedal. Rated PG for thematic elements, brief language and smoking.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

39 thoughts on “I Want Your Money

  1. Ken Hanke

    You should be commended for not palming this atrocity off onto Justin.

    I was afraid it might lead him onto the dark path. Actually, it was wholly logistical. It was either I do this or Jackass 3D and I’ve already had my turn in the barrel as concerns Jackassery.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I should note that this was a huge disaster at the box office. It only took in $29,000 more on 537 screens than Hereafter took in on six screens. It will have vanished from all local theaters come Friday morning.

  3. Dionysis

    “Hubris, ignorance and pathetic ineptitude collide here in an explosion of cretinism that makes Jackass 3-D look like the height of intellectualism.”

    Well, I guess I’ll just have to scratch this title from my film list.

    “It will have vanished from all local theaters come Friday morning.”

    Must we wait that long?

  4. Dread P. Roberts

    That’s it, I’m going to the nearest video store, and asking to be directed to the genre isle: Overlong Commercial for the Tea Party.

    if you really doubted how this movie would conclude, you must go through life in a state of perpetual amazement over such things as the car stopping when you step on the brake pedal.

    Oh please, it’s pretty obvious that it is black magic, crafted by Necromancers.

  5. Ken Hanke

    That’s it, I’m going to the nearest video store, and asking to be directed to the genre isle: Overlong Commercial for the Tea Party

    You should try that. Go to Orbit. Be sure Marc’s working first.

    Personally, I was so impacted by this film that I’ve already run right out and voted — but in ways that, alas, don’t reflect Mr. Griggs’ desires.

    Oh please, it’s pretty obvious that it is black magic, crafted by Necromancers

    You realize this means that stopping your car is not scriptural…

  6. Dread P. Roberts

    Go to Orbit. Be sure Marc’s working first.

    He did say he supplies all kinds…

    You realize this means that stopping your car is not scriptural…

    Exactly. A proper evangelical christian should convert to Amishism (it’s a real word because I said so) and dissapear to the distant farmlands. Produce delishious, organic food; and make quality crafted woodwork for us evil, driving sinners.

  7. Justin Souther

    Oh please, it’s pretty obvious that it is black magic, crafted by Necromancers.

    Christine O’Donnell is not a Necromancer.

  8. DrSerizawa

    Ah, have a heart. We are constantly hammered with leftwing claptrap. Certainly we can tolerate the occasional opposing claptrap.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Ah, have a heart. We are constantly hammered with leftwing claptrap. Certainly we can tolerate the occasional opposing claptrap.

    Doctor, this is probably the biggest area where we do not see eye to eye, but even granting your premise (even though I really don’t, you understand), at least leftwing claptrap tends to be created by people with some degree of actual talent.

  10. Sean Williams

    his talking heads are quick to insert remarks about how socialism isn’t “scriptural.”

    An interesting claim, since the Book of Acts says that the early Christians had their possessions in common.

  11. Ken Hanke

    An interesting claim, since the Book of Acts says that the early Christians had their possessions in common

    Then obviously they were in error.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I don’t discriminate. I will stock this.

    The question was whether you could direct a customer to the “Overlong Commercial for the Tea Party” section.

  13. Sean Williams

    at least leftwing claptrap tends to be created by people with some degree of actual talent.

    Well, I can name a number of great artists who were conservatives: Nabokov, Borges, Bradbury, Kipling…

    …But in general, I’m forced to concede your point. It probably has less to do with innate ability than with the fact that most artists tend to be liberal for the same reason that most gun store owners tend to be conservative: they’re defending the rights that are most necessary to their professions.

    In any case, the authors I named as exceptions were all socially conscious conservatives, which gives them a breadth of sympathy that is essential to great art — something I believe the TEA Party is sorely lacking.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Well, I can name a number of great artists who were conservatives: Nabokov, Borges, Bradbury, Kipling…

    I’m not 100% sold on the greatness in all those cases, but there are different degrees of conservative and it’s a term that means differnt things in differet eras.

    It probably has less to do with innate ability than with the fact that most artists tend to be liberal for the same reason that most gun store owners tend to be conservative: they’re defending the rights that are most necessary to their professions.

    Maybe I’m too idealistic, but my feeling is that the worldview is part of the reason they became artists in the first place. I’m not sure if that applies to gun store owners.

  15. Sean Williams

    I’m not 100% sold on the greatness in all those cases

    I suspected I should say “my favorite” instead of “great”, but I think you can agree that I’m not alone in my admiration.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I suspected I should say “my favorite” instead of “great”, but I think you can agree that I’m not alone in my admiration.

    Oh, most assuredly not, though I suspect that the late great Rudy “The Kip” Kipling (as Peter Sellers called him in The Magic Christian) is a little on the passe side these days.

  17. JonathanBarnard

    So now Ken is suggesting that conservatives can’t be artistically talented. Tolstoy, V.S. Naipaul, Evelyn Waugh, Solzhenitsyn….

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised–given Ken’s fetish for 1965-75 and utter rejection of films from the 50s and 80s. But honestly, as someone who’s never voted Republican in his life, I find these attitudes more callow than cranky.

  18. Ken Hanke

    So now Ken is suggesting that conservatives can’t be artistically talented.

    That is neither what I said, nor what I suggested — unless the terms liberal and conservative are interchangeable with leftwing and rightwing claptrap.

  19. JonathanBarnard

    But as long as I’m on the topic, it could easily be argued that there were more great American modernists who were conservative than liberal: T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Faulkner, Stevens (if I recall correctly) and so forth…

  20. Dread P. Roberts

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised—given Ken’s fetish for 1965-75 and utter rejection of films from the 50s and 80s.

    First of all, I think it’s fair to say that basically all of us have a bit of appreciation (to one degree or another) for the films that came out when we were coming of age.

    Out of curiosity, do you find the ’50s to be a time of quality cinema? I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that strikes me as being really special – other than Hitchcock, which would be the most redeeming quality of ’50s cinema in my opinion.

    In regards to the ’80s – I think Ken sort of/kind of is generally referring to (or thinking about) stuff along the lines of the John Hughes’ teen sex-com ‘brat-pack‘ crap that seemed to flood (and taint) the mainstream, pop-culture of ’80s cinema.

    The irony is that if one were to look at the output of film titles that Ken and Co. have screened for both the Asheville Film Society – as well as the Thursday Horror Picture Show – you’d find no less than fourteen films from the ’80s that have been shown over the last couple of month thus far. In fact, both special screenings kicked off with films right from the middle of the ’80s – Blood Simple (’84) and Re-Animator (’85). That doesn’t sound like someone with utter distain for that period of cinema to me. I think Ken might like films from the ’80s more-so than he’s even willing to conceed – particularly pertaining to horror.

  21. Ken Hanke

    But as long as I’m on the topic, it could easily be argued that there were more great American modernists who were conservative than liberal: T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Faulkner, Stevens (if I recall correctly) and so forth…

    Reasonable enough, I suppose, but again there are conservatives and there are conservatives, as I said before. And there are eras to be taken into account. Plus, I wouldn’t call any of those cited purveyors of “rightwing claptrap.” (Now, you want to drag in Harold Arlen and his Orphan Annie comics…)

  22. JonathanBarnard

    Dread, I agree that we all tend to appreciate the films of the era in which we came of age. And no, I don’t think the 50s was a particularly strong era for American film.

    Like you, I agree that Hitchcock made more great films than anyone working out of Hollywood in that period. That said, I do think that Ken has an extreme aversion to that era. If I recall correctly, when asked to make a list of films from 1930-1965 that could provide a good introduction to the history of film for a teenager, he had no American films from the 50s except for The Night of the Hunter (which is a “rediscovered” film that had no impact during its era). He had no High Noon or John Ford western, no Douglas Sirk melodramas. And his hackles went up when I suggested that since film is also a history of popular culture, perhaps at least one film with a 50s pop icon should be included for a contemporary teenager. (Note that Ken’s golden era for film, as far as I can tell, starts with Help and ends with Tommy.) The film Streetcar Named Desire, for instance, I would call a great work of art. (Though perhaps not a great film, since its greatness comes from its script and performances. Its filming was pretty workmanlike.)

    You’re also probably right that Ken has more respect for 80s film than he sometimes lets on. But he has on occasion really foamed at the mouth about the 80s. For instance, in the discussion after his “On Hating Movies” post, he wrote (after a poster defended Forrest Gump as being “refreshing”): “The 80s and the second half of the 70s were certainly not rife with protest films.” (That’s a direct quote.) Now I think Gump was pretty mediocre (though not beyond the pale), and if Ken considers it abominable fine. But I think there were loads of protest films in the in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. To be fair, Ken did seem to sort of back away from that statement and even scheduled Matewanfor a screening shortly thereafter.

    I really trust Ken as a critic when he says he loves something, only rarely disagreeing. (One example of disagreement: he adores Love Actually, which I thought was mediocre, minus the bits with Bill Nighy, which were great.) It’s his occasional statements of blanket dislike for 50s or 80s film that to me smack of “Don’t trust anyone over 30” circa 1970 and “kids don’t know how to protest like we used to” (spoken by flower children from 1980 on), which make me part company. But so what? Everyone has their strong prejudices. In many ways, that kind of passion (both for loves and hates) is what a critic needs.

    Actually, I’ve harped on Ken’s prejudices too much and too many times. I now promise to stop. Really. (But Dread did ask me to explain myself.) It’s not really fair to Ken, who does such a good job of responding to everyone’s comments. Of course, with all his comments, he’s from time to time going to slip and write something that may not perfectly explain the nuances of his thinking. And my earlier comments on this thread were simply wrong: saying that “leftwing claptrap tends to be better made than rightwing claptrap” is clearly not the same thing as saying that conservatives can’t make great artists.

  23. Dread P. Roberts

    Dread did ask me to explain myself.

    Indeed, and I thank you for your more than informative response. It would seem that there is far more of an erroneous history of debating than what I’d initally thought – or I simply forgot/didn’t care about these debates. I’m sorry for any input I might’ve had in conjuring up such things from the past.

    Everyone has their strong prejudices. In many ways, that kind of passion (both for loves and hates) is what a critic needs.

    Agreed. I’d sooner listen to, and respect, a passionate defense for something I hadn’t considered, than a mediocre opinion for something I care about.

  24. Ken Hanke

    Actually, my golden age of “modern” film begins with A Hard Day’s Night and stops with Lisztomania or Royal Flash (since they opened on the same day it’s a toss-up), but in fairness to myself, that’s only one part of my golden age, because I’m fully as keen on 1927-1935. However, since my grounding in that era at least starts at about the same time as the 1964-1975 one, that does nothing to disprove Mr. Roberts’ assertion of the when seen aspect. I’m sure that has bearing, but in truth it’s much more a stylistic thing than a political one — though the two probably have a connection.

    I do think there’s another connection, though, that might be as important — both reflect a time of industry turmoil. In the first case, it was the advent of sound (and the encroachment of German film styles). In the second, it was the death of the studio system (and the encroachment of the New Wave and British movies). In both instances, people who would never have otherwise gotten on a studio lot were allowed to make movies.

    Bear in mind, by the way, that the remark about there being few protest films in the latter half of the 70s or the 80s was originally in direct response to the statement that Forrest Gump was refreshing because “At that point we had seen enough 1960s political protest films.” And it had been some considerable time in 1994 since there’d been any “1960s political protest films.”

  25. Ken Hanke

    By the way, if anywhere near the number of people who’ve looked at this review had gone to see the movie in question, it would have played longer than Friday to Thursday.

  26. Dread P. Roberts

    By the way, if anywhere near the number of people who’ve looked at this review had gone to see the movie in question, it would have played longer than Friday to Thursday.

    I’m not a betting man, but I’ll most certainly bet that at least 85% of the people looking at this review dont give a damn about the actual movie – they’re just filled with glee at the prospect of getting to read on of those special cranky Hanke reviews, whereas an over-abundant cornucopia of diabolically humorous insults are certain to occur.

  27. hippie28806

    This movie is right up there with “An Inconvenient Truth”. Both are identical depending on YOUR viewpoint. Neither make a good argument or present any factual evidence. The world would be a better place without any movies like these…and this included Michael Moore as well.

  28. Ken Hanke

    Oh cripes. Are you people still going on about this?

    Well, we weren’t for a while. Come to think of it, I don’t think we ever have been, since I am pretty solidly of the opinion that I’m the only one here who’s actually seen the damned thing.

  29. Piffy!

    I agree with hippie 28806. Although i havent seen the movie yet, I can tell it is as biased and full of lies as a Michael Moore is. I haven’t actually seen any Michael Moore movies, either, but that is really besides the point. His movie is full of lies, and that’s a fact.

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