Brewster’s Millions (1985)

brewsters millionsIMDb

This is such a delightful premise for a film: Montgomery Brewster (Richard Pryor) has 30 days to spend $30 million in order to inherit his long lost great-uncle’s fortune of $300 million. But there’s a catch, of course. When the 30 days are up he can’t own any assets he didn’t already own at the beginning of the challenge. He must get value for the services he hires someone to provide. He can’t purchase expensive items and just give them away (i.e., no gifting diamonds to every woman on the street). He can’t destroy anything inherently valuable (i.e., no purchasing sports cars and crashing them). He can only donate 5% to charity, and can only gamble away 5%. And he can’t tell anyone any of this.

Obviously every time I watch Brewster’s Millions I spend the duration thinking of how I’d spend all that cash, in between laughing at Pryor and John Candy’s antics. Some of my favorites:

  • Pay for all my family and friends to go to the Disney World Resort for a week (flights, hotel rooms, tickets, food… not cheap).
  • Purchase primetime commercial spots on all the major networks to broadcast my favorite ridiculous as seen on TV ads repeatedly, like Shake Weight.
  • Hire Larry David to write script based on my favorite Modern Seinfeld tweets, and then pay the cast to reunite and perform the episode live on stage for my personal amusement.

Brewster’s ideas to blow cash are very creative and fun to watch. The entire movie holds up well, 80s dollar figures aside. I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been a remake of this already. The premise is simple enough that it can be easily translated to a contemporary setting. Just up the dollar figures and it pretty much writes itself.

Rating: B

I really enjoyed this film. It is one of the 80s comedies that really holds up today. Richard Pryor stars as professional screw up and minor league baseball player, Montgomery Brewster. He cruises through life clinging to a small hope that he will get called up to the major leagues. Brewster thinks that day has come when he is asked to attend a meeting in Manhattan, only to discover he is the last living relative of a billionaire. His dead relative has a challenge for him. He can take 1 million dollars right away or take a challenge to spend 30 million dollars in 30 days. If he can spend the money, he inherits the whole 300 million dollar fortune. If he fails, he inherits nothing.

This is still such an original story. I spent most of my time watching it thinking about what it would be like if they remade this movie today. Spending 30 million dollars in 30 days would be a piece of cake in today’s world. If they made it spend 300 million in 30 days, that’d be a challenge. I’d be interested to watch that film. I started thinking about who’d play Brewster. I tried to keep the actor African American like Pryor, but my mind kept going to people like Seth Rogan or Jack Black. I think both of those guys would be great as the loveable oaf who is suddenly rich. I know Hollywood drops the ball more often than not when it comes to remakes, but this is a story that still feels really original. I am really surprised nobody has tried to remake it.

But enough of my dreaming, we are here to talk about the Richard Pryor version. This film is really funny. Pryor and John Candy are great together. Candy plays Brewster’s best friend and baseball catcher. He is happy for his friend when he hears he has inherited 30 million dollars, but can’t understand it when he starts seemingly blowing it all without a second thought. While Candy is good, this is Pryor’s show. He owns the movie as Monty Brewster and is really likeable. You want him to succeed in his challenge, even though the more money he spends, the more he starts to hate being rich. You still really want him to overcome his obstacles and inherit all of his great uncle’s cash. Especially when some corrupt businessmen try and make it so he fails as they stand to inherit the money if he does.

This film is well worth your time. It stands up very well considering it’s nearly 30 years old. Also, keep your eye out for Reverend Camden himself Stephen Collins as a dirty businessman trying to stop Brewster from finishing his challenge.

Rating: B-

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