'Where's the Money': Film Review

A would-be star vehicle that misjudges its strengths.
10/20/2017

Internet personality Andrew Bachelor stars in Scott Zabielski's debut comedy.

A light comedy that dabbles in racial commentary but pulls in too many directions simultaneously, Scott Zabielski's Where's the Money puts a Vine celebrity in the lead and finds that mastery of a six-second video format is no predictor of big-screen success. Andrew "King Bach" Bachelor is amiable but hardly star material here, playing a young man whose hunt for buried treasure forces him to infiltrate a college fraternity. Commercial prospects are slim, but helped by a supporting cast including Method Man, Terry Crews and others.

Bachelor plays Del, a South Central slacker who runs a small gym with his mother Roberta (Parks and Recreation's Retta, wasted in this role) while palling around with best friend Juice (Allen Maldonado) and crushing on the perpetually unimpressed Alicia (Kat Graham). His father and uncle started the gym, but are serving long prison sentences for robbing a bank. (Actually, Crews' Uncle Leon recently escaped, but Del won't know that for a while.)

When Dad tells Del where the million-dollar loot from that heist is stashed, Del can't wait to retrieve it. But what once was a flophouse has now been gentrified by students of a nearby college: In order to access the basement walls that hold the treasure, he's going to have to pledge a frat whose membership currently happens to be all-white.

But lest we get the wrong idea, the Kappa Alpha Chi men are not at all racist! Turns out, the dimwitted fellas' attempts to avoid giving offense are responsible for almost all the film's laughs, thanks in no small part to Josh Brener (Silicon Valley), whose pre-law character Clarke is quick to issue trigger warnings. The film has a fair bit of fun watching as he and his bros try to haze a black man without offending him or prompting a lawsuit.

Clarke would, one guesses, be made slightly uncomfortable by watching a film whose protagonists are people of color but whose white director seems most invested in the comic potential of his white supporting characters. Whatever the real-life politics of the filmmakers, this is shaky ground. While Zabielski and his co-writers never shortchange their stars in terms of screen time, their imaginations fail them when it comes to giving Crews and Method Man interesting things to do and say. In the case of Method Man, though, the rapper/actor's attitude alone carries him past the script's deficiencies.

The action gets sluggish whenever Del isn't, as he puts it, playing the white-guilt game with his new friends. But at 85 minutes, Where's the Money doesn't spend too much time lingering in these dead zones. Del's story of whisking money out from under white folks' noses has a happy, if implausible, ending. Just don't tell whomever Del's father ripped off in the first place.

Production companies: Persimmon Productions, BSFG
Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Andrew Bachelor, Allen Maldonado, Kat Graham, Terry Crews, Retta, Method Man, Josh Brener, Devon Werkheiser, Logan Paul
Director: Scott Zabielski
Screenwriters: Ted Sperling, Benjamin Sutor, Scott Zabielski
Producers: Zack Schiller, Dylan Sellers
Executive producers: Andrew Bachelor, Whine Del Rosario, Todd King, James McGough
Director of photography: Andrew Huebscher
Costume designer: Ariyela Wald-Cohain
Editor: Chris McKinley
Composer: Math Club
Casting director: Marisol Roncali

Rated R, 85 minutes

comments powered by Disqus