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.