Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.
Release Date: August 31st, 1994 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Richard Benjamin Actors: Melanie Griffith, Ed Harris, Michael Patrick Carter, Malcolm McDowell, Margaret Nagle
evin Clean (Brian Christopher), Brad (Adam LaVorgna), and Frank Wheeler (Michael Patrick Carter) – who is just twelve years old – are best friends. In Middleton’s junior high school they’ve reached the point where they’re learning about sex; Frank’s science-teacher and wetland-researcher father Tom (Ed Harris) is no help on the subject, having lost his wife at childbirth and remaining understandably awkward and tightlipped around his son. The three kids decide to pool their money together (and make some extra cash at school by swindling classmates who think the boys are trying to purchase a prosthetic leg for their dog) and journey to the nearby city to find a prostitute – just for a peek. In short time, they’ve amassed $103, which should be enough to get the job done.
Their venture into the big city starts with a holdup by a bum with a gun, after being led into a lightless parking garage (something that could have been much scarier in a different movie). The mugger is thwarted by streetwise hooker V (Melanie Griffith), who eventually gives the boys what they want – a dimly lit view of her exposed chest. Her pimp, Cash (a very unconvincing Casey Siemaszko), isn’t thrilled with her payment of a bag of change. But his gripe is insignificant next to the problems caused by his boss, the ruthless gangster Waltzer (Malcolm McDowell), who cuts out the heart of the sniveling flesh-peddler on his path to tracking down V – who he’s led to believe stole his money. Meanwhile, the runaway streetwalker hides out at Frank’s house, unbeknownst to his preoccupied father.
It’s tough to portray the severity of prostitution when restricted by the boundaries of a PG-13 rating and a target audience of preteen boys. Unfortunately, but not surprising, there’s no nudity. And the dependably sinister villain is unable to pose much of a sincere threat. While some of the birds-and-the-bees conversations are a touch grating, perhaps because of the kid gloves dialogue used, there are a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, including a conversation in which V thinks Tom knows what she does for a living – but in reality, he’s under the impression she’s a math tutor. And this joke extends for several scenes, creating some amusing implications and plenty of innuendos.
“This is the greatest moment of my life,” exclaims Brad after witnessing the unveiling of V’s top half. “Milk Money” has the vibe of a more light-hearted “Pretty Woman” (Kevin Scannell as Kevin’s father has a role equivalent to Jason Alexander’s Stuckey), examining the familiar elements of increasing confidence (for both father and son) and interpreting or appreciating people for their inner qualities. It also involves the odd but effective replacement mother theme (V preps Frank for a dance with a girl from his class) and the innocent young adult fantasy of an interview with a “professional” – along with the notion of unconditional compliance and collaboration, like John Hughes “Weird Science.” The feeling of the fairytale shattering Cinderella-style is also ever-present, but it’s still difficult to dislike the fun-loving sexuality and adventure, even if it runs on about half-an-hour too long and resolves the predicaments too easily. The film also features an early role for Anne Heche as fellow working girl Betty.
– Mike Massie