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March 19 2005

(SPOILER) Cool Money: Cool, Charming Caper Flick. Very complimentary review of Cool Money from Eclipse Discuss tonight's TV movie in this thread.

Long and very positive review of Cool Money ,well worth a read.

"Marsters is the main reason many will watch ‘Cool Money’ – his past as ‘Spike’ on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and ‘Angel’ has garnered him a faithful fan base. Because Spike was such a demanding role, they will, no doubt, be pleased to see that he’s equally effective in another demanding role – and that his charm and charisma do not vanish along with Spike’s peroxide blond hair. Indeed, Marsters is completely convincing in the role of Bobby Comfort...."

"Be forewarned: this is not the high-tech caper tale of the recent ‘The Italian Job’, or ‘Heist’. This tale is set in the present, but looks back to the 70s for its low-tech, personality-based capers. Even though there is great intelligence in the conception of the heists and cat-and-mouse game between Bobby’s team and the police, this is not a gizmo-based flick – and is, frankly, all the more enjoyable for it. Indeed, ‘Cool Money’ is better than many big-budget heist flicks. Sometimes a piece of pure entertainment hits every mark – ‘Cool Money’ is one of those rare pieces of entertainment."

Grade: A "

I think we'll use this thread as the discussion thread for Cool Money tonight. I'm assuming some posters will want to discuss it. And if there's any other reviews of Cool Money, please put them in this thread.
Reviews are good to mixed, but everyone loved Marsters, which is nice:

Another review:

Spike' Marsters morphs from spooky to suave

[ edited by Simon on 2005-03-19 16:24 ]
Gah! When's it gonna be on in the UK? Hmm? HMM?!?
I probably should made myself a bit clearer on posting reviews, I should have said post a URL to the review so that's why your post was edited twiggy.
(hangs head in shame from yet another Whedonesque posting mishap and runs and hides under the bed.)

I must admit, my computer skills are
Here's one to show an "opposing" view, from a Louisville, Kentucky paper...(not complimentary AT ALL). Reviewer seemed fairly pretentious if you ask me. (It's the second bit down the page, pretty short).

Obviously they don't know it's based on actual events (even though they say it's a true tale) since they made this comment, "They supposedly pulled off the biggest such heist in history.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-03-19 20:06 ]
well that was interesting...but stupid

oh well, can't win 'em all
"There are no name actors..." That pretty much sums up the level of knowledge displayed in this review.
Almost 1 hour in:

James' performance is so subtle...I can believe he IS Bobby Comfort. He immediately made me sympathize with the character. I really don't want him to get caught and locked back up. Amazing talent there! As expected, a huge contrast from Spike.
(I can't get used to the short hair. Well, I have another hour to try!)
20 minutes in and I stopped watching. What a shame that an actor of James' caliber can only find work in poorly directed schlock like this.
Cute ending. I was hoping for a little more though. Damn, James looked good. I though Margot was great, and I HATED the actresses who played James's wife.
The acting was very good in this (but I agree with Harm about the actress who played his wife) Tht was a nice way to spend the evening, and James was great in it.

YAY, James.

[ edited by twiggy on 2005-03-20 06:44 ]
Very fun and entertaining.
I was worried at the opening credits, which seemed a little cheesy, but the show was terrific.
I thought James Marsters did a wonderful job, he really showed the appeal of his character, why people liked him.
It is easily the best made-for-TV-movie I've seen in years.
Very much a switch in character type for him - from what we're used to anyway. I think he did damn well. He played charming and nice so well, no wonder the wife put up with him if the real life Bobby Comfort was anything like that, though I'm sure the money helped! Like creepy6 said, his performance was very subtle. I think that worked well, because they had enough other characters that were a bit 'over the top,' like Sammy and his mother.

I enjoyed the movie, though I can see why some might not like that style. It did have a very strong "crime caper" feel to it that some may not like - which goes along with how the credits were styled as well. Some may not like the "low-tech" approach; no gun fights, no big car chases, high tech gadgetry or explosions, etc. For me it made the story stand out by avoiding all of those "action movie" trappings.

I think it's a good, solid piece of work. I actually like how they sort of hinted at the actual time period with Sammy's clothes, car, the music, etc. without forcing a period piece on us. I think that let the characters be the main focus instead of the look. I was dreading a Starsky and Hutch type of deal, so was very pleasantly surprised.

Definitely something James should be proud of.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-03-20 06:24 ]
I really enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It made me want to know the rest of the story.

James was fantastic and I liked the actors who played Sammy, Phil and the older guy.

It's not the kind of thing I usually go out of my way to watch but I was entertained and interested the whole time.

James looked gorgeous in spite of the fact that he had no hair. (My pet peeve)
It was well paced but I thought the screenplay was unfocused and the direction pedestrian. Y'know how Joss is always talking about boring television direction in his commentaries? Well, I thought this was an example of the kind of thing he was talking about. And to tell you the truth I thought James could have used a little more spark--I didn't quite feel the charisma the characters talked about. And I KNOW James has charisma. But seems like most people liked the movie, so good, I'm happy to be in the minority. I thought Margot Kidder and the cousin stood out. Maybe if the story was told from the cousin's P.O.V. I might have found it more interesting. Of course this is just one man's opinion.

Anyway, I hope the ratings are good and it helps James' career.
Not only was that a cool movie, but they based it where I live (Rochester NY) -- now if only they had really filmed here, that would have been great.
I'm curious though, why they called it "Rochester Downs" instead of Batavia Downs and "Rochester County court" instead of Monroe County Court? Wonder why they renamed them?

Good movie, got it on tape for me and my best friend so we'll be sure to watch it again. Good job James!!!
My take: Decent flick, no need to rewatch.

It was great to see James as a lead for 2 hours, though. And since I love heist movies, I didn't mind sitting through this one half the time. I totally had the same thought as embers when the credits ran. As for the "cheaply made" comments, yes, it was and you can tell (the budget for these things is probably less than an episode of Ed), but at least the story was solid. And James' character wasn't even the only one I liked; I liked the older guy too. The actress playing Bob's mother must only be 5 years older than James and that made me laugh every time she was onscreen. The hair was easy for me to get used to, but the accent? Not so much. James needs to play British again 'cause I like it. I TiVoed for the sake of TiVoing to prove that I watched and to help with the ratings if it counts at all, but I've already deleted it.
OK, I've been asking around on different boards but nobody has answered me yet. Did any one else think the Bobby voice overs sounded a bit like James's Harry Dresden voice ???

The music might have seemed cheesy but I think they were going for a certain style that would get people ready for a "To Catch a Thief" kind of flick. The plot was..well the plot. It wasn't meant to be Checkov, just something to entertain. James was superb as always and it can't hurt to keep you acting muscles limber till another great role comes along.
"The actress playing Bob's mother must only be 5 years older than James and that made me laugh every time she was onscreen."

Actually, I think Margot Kidder was born in 1948 so that puts her at about 57 years old - not sure what age she was supposed to be in the flick.

" Did any one else think the Bobby voice overs sounded a bit like James's Harry Dresden voice ???
It did but I've only heard some clips, never heard an entire book. I actually kind of thought that the clips I've heard sound LIKE a voiceover to the action happening in the books so I guess that makes sense. I'm sure folks just aren't used to hearing so much of his "real" voice.

[ edited by Grace on 2005-03-20 14:33 ]
I went in not expecting much more than 'most likely James won't suck' and ended up liking Cool Money quite a bit. I appreciated the actual heists were made secondary to development of the characters and their relationships. I know one review lamented Bobby’s lack of an edge, but I think he did have one-- it just wasn’t overtly on display until the scene in the motel with the choking and opinion of earning respect. It was a smart move to make Bobby low key and confident about the life of crime he could get away with and yet was almost resigned to.
James was so natural, relaxed and absolutely believable in the part that he made it seem effortless. I got the feeling he was thinking his character’s thoughts (which not every actor can do) not merely saying his dialogue. Despite nasty cinematography that did nothing to pretty up the flat, grey light of late fall, James is still one handsome fella. How strange to see him in daylight. And a suit and tie. In a tux, even! The costumes and Sammy’s awful car gave a sense of the 70’s without having to go there, thank goodness. The ¾ length leather coat was almost a litmus test for fans and to his credit as an actor, he didn’t give any hint of Spike while wearing it.
Before, I was thinking he could have a solid career with character parts, but now I believe he could carry the load of leading man as long as the parts are complex enough to let his talent shine. He may be better than the material he’s in for a time, but I think he can be trusted to be choosy enough not to screw up too badly. I don’t know what else to say. I’m even more impressed by him now and so proud. Can’t. Stop. Smiling. Face. Hurts.
I liked it. I do agree the directing was blah. But the script was decent, and the actors were really good. So it is kind of a shame the overall presentation wasn't a bit better.

The movie isn't going to win any Emmy awards or anything, but I thought James and the rest of the cast (especially Margot K) was great. Unlike with "The Mountain," I do think this was a good move for James. I know he's got a life to live, and I think, a dependent or two to support, but I hope he stays away from tripe.
I can see why the critics were disappointed with the production value and the direction, but overall I think the actors did a great job with the material they were given. James gave a natural and relaxed performance. He didn't need to be over the top and if he had a edge, as one critic wanted, I don't think it would've worked as well. His darker side came out only when absolutely necessary.

I'm used to his natural voice and I loved hearing it. It was also nice to have good lighting on him for a change, so that you can see those gorgeous eyes. Seeing him wear something other than black was nice too. I hope it shows the doubters than he is leading man material in addition to being a wonderful character actor.

BTW, I don't think I've ever seen a Canada Dry vending machine in the United States. They couldn't find a regular coke machine? Otherwise, nothing really stood out to me as being out of place and I like the way they captured the time period with subtlety.
Sometimes when you have a script that is telling a tale in such a basic way, that is set it up knock it down Act I; Act II Act III--a wise director might just let it be what it is. Trying to jazz up this screenplay might be akin to trying to attach a racehorse to a gocart. Wouldn't take it anywhere fast.

I'm saying I liked how this screenplay was handled. The director recognized the writing and responded accordingly. As for the writing--I appreciated the low tech hands on approach street guys like these would have taken, and that simple way was echoed in the style of the text and maybe that in itself was the reason they got away with the crimes for as long as they did. They flew under the radar.

But because they took the scaled back approach, the 'getting to know the guys' thang--I did crave, at least one scene that went a little deeper into that and didn't always advance the exposition in an obvious way. A moment where Bobby was...I don't know, just eating a meal with his family or something and they were talking about what was on TV.

I think one of the reasons the wife was so unlikeable (I agree with previous posts on that) was that she was put in the unenviable position of either ragging on the guy we came to like or celebrating the fruits of his crimes and the contrast made her seem morally wishy washy. Some basic scene bewteen the family unit would have helped; where we could have seen her deal with him in a nonjudgmental or applauding way. And if that wishy washy success loving 'I'll take it as long as we can get away with it' quality was singular to her character--maybe make that point more specificaly.

There was a mini moment with Bobby and the daughter in the kitchen but I would have liked more. That's my only suggestion. Otherwise--I liked it. It was entertaining, James recognized what his job was in the pic and he did it very well. Subtle is the word and subtle in a way that you couldn't tell how he was working on you until the end and I too, didn't want to see him sent back to jail.

And I'm all about the justice and the balance and the comuppance.

I liked the moment when he was laying on the bed staring at the ceiling waiting for the clock to tick to 6:00. A lot of nice subtle layers of expectation and tension and a nice micro of what Bobby was all about.

I would have liked more moments like that--but I still enjoyed the scaled back simple way the tale was told.

I also think this is a good transition movie for JM. He worked very hard on BTVS; cut himself open in way we may not see another actor do for some time and he has admitted that ATS exhausted him and I think he needed an exercise in 'being.' Just living in the moment and this he did very well. Like how a painter craves another color after exhausting the studies in red and black. Cool Money is his...forest green.


Good on James.

[ edited by BforBeth on 2005-03-20 18:46 ]
Damn, he's good. I agree, "subtle performance." So much nuance. I thought he gave the guy dimension that is very unusual in this kind of film. There were times when he could have played the charming wise-ass that is so common in this kind of movie. There were end of scene close ups where I expected the look of, "Ha, ha I put something over on you." When they weren't there, I realized how much I had gotten used to the formula and formula character. I also realized that this character was smart and serious about his life and they were not going for the slick, hard edged, cocky, charmer. This guy was a grown-up. The stock character in this kind of movie does not usually have the integration between the different parts of his life and the self-posession that this one had. In other words, JM did not fall into the trap of playing a character that is easy and has been done lots of times before.

As far as overall prodution values and opening credits. It was a cheap movie for TV that I thought did what it could with what it had. I thought it was unusually well acted and the director and producer have to be given credit in casting and letting/encouraging the actors go in unusually truthful directions. The writing also pointed the way. And the credits made me think of the movies from back in the 60's like original "Pink Panther." I think they were going for that feeling that this is an old fashioned movie without hitting you over the head with the period.

So I liked it. It was what it was supposed to be, an entertaining TV movie.

Oh, and I still think The Mountain was a good move on JM's part. He was paid to make an audition tape. He had brown hair, an American accent, was playing a human being in a non-genre show, with a really nice emotional scene. That had not happened in a really long time. Now he has his first leading role on film which he made it a point to be non-genre and a new take on what could have been a stock character. He is moving right along building a TV/film career step by step. I look forward to seeing what comes next.
I rather agree with the linked review. I found the movie enjoyable to watch, although without his performance I doubt I'd watch it a second time. I'm kind of surprised no one mentioned the humor yet -- the way things kept going wrong in the different robbery attempts was hilarious. I'm wondering if in real life the mariachi band actually started playing! I also found it fairly suspenseful. I really had no idea how things would end up. And lastly it was a relief to watch a crime drama absent of gunfights, dramatic car chases, and over-the-top fisticuffs. It made things much more realistic, small-scale and human.
There are tons of fantastic screen caps at colddeadseed in thread #87 for those of you who haven't been able to see the movie yet.
I found it enjoyable, and enjoyed JM's acting. The movie definitely had some virtues, pointed out by earlier posts (period details without being a period piece; avoiding action movie cliches).

I wasn't expecting too much from the script, and I got about what I expected. What was missing, that I would have liked to see, was the script showing us what made Bobby so successful, rather than just telling us that he was. For instance, it was said that he was born to be a thief. Did that just mean that he was born without an inclination for honest work, or that he had some actual skill requisite for the job? He didn't seem particularly skilled on any of the heists (not knowing what to do with the Mariachis and so forth). The brains of the operation seemed to be the other guy (even if he was a bit unhinged).

We are told that he spotted something none of the lawyers did, that got him released even after a jailbreak. What did he see? What did he notice that allowed him to stay a step ahead of his partner in the last sequence of the movie? He came out ahead, but we're not really shown quite how he did it, or how he knew that that was what he needed to do.

The theme of the wife who is uneasy about her husband's criminal life, but who enjoys the spoils of it, has been done much better elsewhere of course, notably in the Sopranos and Goodfellas. The movie seemed to borrow a bit much from the latter film, with the freeze-frame character introduction and main character narration.

But as cj said, it was what is was supposed to be, an entertaining tv movie. And it was nice to see JM so much.
I enjoyed this little film very much and without a doubt, James IS one beautiful man. It was obvious that they were excentuating this as well, plus all the charisma of the Marsters to boot. The story may have been a bit slow, but James has that ability to make even the mundane seem incredible, so overall I think he did an excellent job and I hope this is just the start of many more projects. How Joss and some of the other writers, think that James can't carry a show on his own is beyond me. I think this proves he is MORE than up to the challenge. I honestly don't think he could be intimidated by any role, and that he just naturally slides into the persona he wants to portray. Good job...and I pray it's not too long til the next one.
When did Joss and some of the other writers say they thought JM couldn't carry a show on his own?
Re writers and Joss not thinking JM could carry a show: I think that I remember one remark by Fury stating misgivings on Spike carrying a show because that character had always been driven by his love for Buffy. That was pre- Angel five. Also there may have been some doubts because of there already having been a show about a souled vampire, or the sometimes wise-cracking sidekick nature of the beast. Memories are fuzzy there. But all that was Spike for Peties sake, not JM. I've never seen anything that made me think that anyone at ME didn't love him to bits and think he could leap tall buildings at a single bound.
That makes more sense. Debating about Spike's ability to carry a show I could see, though I think he could. JM being able to carry a show is a whole-nuther-thing. No-brainer, as they say.

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