Monty Capuletti could receive 10 million dollars as an inheritance from his late mother-in-law's estate. Her will states he must first curb his vices for a year, which include smoking, drinking and gambling to name a few.
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Rodney Dangerfield was a legendary standup comedian. Everyone knew him as the man who claimed to get no respect. The reality was that he was very well respected, especially by his fellow comedians, many of whom he helped to reach success.
As a movie star, Rodney was, well… Rodney. With the exception of his sinister supporting role in Natural Born Killers, his films were mostly vehicles for him to show off his comic chops. This, of course, is not a bad thing. His breakout performance in Caddyshack and the mainstream smash, Back To School, are testaments to the power of the Rodney persona.
For me, though, Rodney’s best film will always be Easy Money, Rodney’s… I mean Monty Capuletti’s struggle to avoid booze, drugs and women for one year in order to earn a sizable inheritance. True, this slice of Staten Island life is another excuse for Rodney to do what he does best. The story doesn’t even really start until almost halfway through the movie.
So why does this movie work? Rodney is in top form, but he’s not alone. Joe Pesci stars as Nicky, Monty’s blue collar, hard living best friend. He is basically Monty with a hair-trigger temper. Nicky will not tolerate anyone disrespecting him or his friends and will dive over bars or attack a jockey after losing a horse race in order to prove this point.
Adding to Monty’s stress is his new son-in-law, Julio (Taylor Negron). Julio has just married Monty’s eighteen year old daughter, Alison (Jennifer Jason Leigh). After breaking up on their wedding night, Julio tries to win Alison back. Finding the romantic approach ineffective, he is not above taking her back by gunpoint, if necessary. Julio is a thorn in Monty’s side, literally and figuratively, and ends up playing a major role in the outcome of Monty’s quest.
While the plot is not the most important part of the film, Easy Money has a satisfying twist ending that is both unexpected and yet true to Monty’s character. Rodney fans surely know and love this movie already, but others should check it out as well. There are plenty of laughs to go around.
Pesci apparently finds Rodney as funny as the rest of us do. In several scenes, he can be seen either laughing or putting his hand over his face to keep from laughing. Whether it’s the sight of a bald department store clerk identically dressed as a mannequin or just the effect of Rodney’s one-liners, it’s difficult to tell who is having a better time, Nicky or Pesci.
Don’t forget to check out Billy Joel’s underrated title track during the opening and closing credits. A great song on its own, it matches the tone and energy of the film perfectly.