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  Finders Keepers Money Money Money
Year: 1984
Director: Richard Lester
Stars: Michael O'Keefe, Beverly D'Angelo, Louis Gossett Jr, Pamela Stephenson, Ed Lauter, David Wayne, Brian Dennehy, Jack Riley, John Schuck, Timothy Blake, Jim Carrey, Robert Clothier, Jayne Eastwood, Alf Humphreys, Barbara Kermode, Harvey Atkin
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Michael Rangeloff (Michael O'Keefe) is a manager of a women's roller derby team which has not been going too well recently, having been unable to pay the ladies for some weeks now and his excuses ringing false in their ears. When one day at training they revolt after effectively being thrown out of their venue, they are furious and chase Michael down the street, baying for his blood, though he, wearing rollerboots himself, is able to stay one step ahead until he can take cover. What he doesn't know is that he could come into money soon, albeit stolen money, as there's a stash hidden in a coffin by two unscrupulous associates of the victim about to board a cross-country train...

Honky Tonk Freeway was a movie that came up to compare with Finders Keepers at the time it was released to very little interest back in 1984, since they were both featuring ensemble casts, splashy stunts, travel-based plotlines and were directed by two of the brightest talents of the British New Wave of the nineteen-sixties, John Schlesinger in the case of the former, and Richard Lester with this. As happened with each, they were largely ignored in their day, but catching them on television meant there were a hardy few who appreciated stumbling across something they had no expectations of and found they were pretty funny; there's something about that experience.

Not that it succeeds for everyone, and with Finders Keepers the main reason to check it out so many years after the fact would be to catch a glimpse of a pre-fame Jim Carrey who had a supporting role as a draft dodger - except he enlisted, which makes him, er, AWOL or something. This was set at the same time the source book by Charles Dennis was published, in 1973 (he also penned the screenplay, with assistance), therefore every so often somebody would mention Watergate and one character, the world's oldest train conductor (David Wayne), actually got through to President Richard Nixon on the telephone for a bit that went precisely nowhere in particular, like much here.

Well, the train was going somewhere at least, and that was where the main players ended up after Michael negotiates his way out of a bath with the Chief of Police's wife after said Chief finds him there, somehow leading to him dressing up as an Army sergeant (he had lost his clothes) and onto the transport where, again, he somehow poses as the soldier bringing home his war buddy's body which is actually the coffin containing the millions in cash. Are you following this? Surprisingly, Lester managed to juggle these balls in the air with some skill, as there was even more to it than that, with Beverly D'Angelo playing a conwoman and eventual romantic interest for O'Keefe, and Louis Gossett Jr showing up halfway through as Michael's old buddy, just not a war buddy, but he's a conman too.

Everyone here, almost everyone at any rate, was out to get one over on someone else, though the only real villains were the duo who stole the fortune in the first place, Ed Lauter and Pamela Stephenson, who have guns and are not averse to using them. One supposed you could make an observation about how money drives people to extremes, not really evil in the central trio's case, more self-interest, but it was a stretch to build up any great claims for Finders Keepers, it was more or less what it posed as, a silly comedy caper with a criminal bent. Crucially, it mattered whether this was funny, and although a sense of humour is a very personal thing, this was sprightly enough to appear humorous without actually being hilarious. Every so often they would pull a gag out of the hat that would be laughter-inducing, and they were definite bright spots, but also fleeting and the overall impression was one of "nice try" rather than absolute must-see ribtickler. Yet it does have its fans, as mentioned, and you didn't begrudge it that. Music by Ken Thorne, and a rare theatrical release from TV giant CBS.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Richard Lester  (1932 - )

American director, from television, in Britain whose initially zany style could give way to genuine suspense and emotion. After making his film debut with short The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film, which featured Goons Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan, he went on to throwaway projects like It's Trad, Dad and Mouse on the Moon. His next, however, was a smash hit all over the world: A Hard Day's Night, not least because it had The Beatles as stars.

Lester was at his most successful in the sixties and early seventies, with notable movies like The Knack, Beatles follow up Help!, stage adaptation A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, satire How I Won the War, romance Petulia, weird comedy The Bed Sitting Room, The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers and very British disaster movie Juggernaut.

Efforts like Royal Flash, Robin and Marian, gay bathhouse comedy The Ritz and Cuba made less impact, but in the eighties Lester was called in to salvage the Superman series after Richard Donner walked off Superman II; Lester also directed Superman III. Finders Keepers was a flop comedy, and Return of the Musketeers had a tragic development when one of his regular cast, Roy Kinnear, died while filming. Lester then decided to give up directing, with Paul McCartney concert Get Back his last film.

 
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