I was one of the few who paid to see this in theatres. Twice, in fact. Big things were, I assume, expected of it, since it opened on two screens. That's not uncommon nowadays with today's huge multiplexes screening every decently-marketed movie on multiple screens the first two weekends. But in the 80's only the biggest blockbusters (like INDIANA JONES movies) shipped duplicate prints to moviehouses, and then it was rarely, if ever, more than two. (In contrast, INVINCIBLE opens this weekend on three screens at my local 'plex.)
MDM was unspooled on two of my local theatre's five screens, and I went that first Saturday afternoon for the matinée in the bigger of the two houses. I was one of less than thirty people there. I went again the following Saturday, and the film had already been demoted to just the one, smaller house. And it was even less in attendance.
What went wrong? I thought it was pretty funny (I was 13), laughing loudly a good bit of the time. The open ending was intriguing, which is why I went a second time. I seem to remember solving the mystery of the missing millions' whereabouts, or at least hearing the common consensus. If it entertained this junior-higher, why not millions of others? Oh, I see: checking IMDb's release schedule, I discover this movie opened a week after HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS (a small success that catered to a similar demographic) and directly against PREDATOR, which was a big hit (and was--we can all pretty much agree--a better movie). Either or both of those movies may have eroded MDM's audience.
There were two differences between the theatrical and home video versions that stick in my mind. The first is the ending. Originally the movie ended with the two detectives talking about where the rest of the money might be and then breaking the fourth wall to allude to the real-life contest. The video release, however, had the detectives talking about the characters on their wild goose chase, along with some kind of coda about destiny or futility or something (it's been a while).
The second concerns not the film exactly, but rather the different ways I saw it. It's a 2.35 widescreen movie and I remember a shot of a row of eggs with a word on each that, when unscrambled, revealed a clue to where a portion of the money was hidden. (The final egg, which contained the most vital word, was broken to check for the presence of a bomb, or something. Again, I'm going back years here.) The eggs made a long line that the director showed in a single static shot. When I later viewed the movie on TV this shot was now a slow pan. I didn't know at the time why this was, but looking back now it was my first conscious sighting of panning-and-scanning. (My eyes weren't truly opened about the necessity of letterboxing until a few years later when I saw a widescreen version of HALLOWEEN.)
As for the merits of the movie itself, it's a distant third behind MAD MAD WORLD and RAT RACE (and I'm not a fan of either). Certain images linger in my memory: a Volvo melting in a pond of toxic waste; a K-car with really bad rear shocks; a slapstick encounter with a Murphy bed; a hot-air balloon (see Ebert's Little Movie Glossary for what that signifies); and a car stolen from a lot. The characters I remember are Eddie Deezen as a newlywed, a ginger waitress in a pink(?) uniform, a rock singer(?) with two groupies, and a yuppie family headed by Rick Overton, I think. Gotta check the cast listing here, hold on. Yeah, it was him, and, hey, I forgot Rich Hall was in this movie. It doesn't get any more early-late 80's than Rich Hall.
The $4M in the movie was hidden in four different locations in identical amounts. Let's see if I can recall. One was of course the final quarter up for grabs in the Glad Bag contest (revealed in the Trivia section). One was under or inside a bridge in Arizona, maybe. Another may have been connected in some way to a well. As for the fourth, I have no idea.
Is there enough consumer interest to warrant a decent DVD release (or any release)? I'd buy it if it were priced under $15, and I can't be the only one. It deserves at least a no-frills release as an interesting cinematic curio, along the lines of the bare-bones DVD for LEONARD PART 6 . Like that infamous Cosby turkey, MDM bombed badly in the 80's, but Hollywood doesn't seem to want its embarrassments from that era digitally remastered for excavation today (note the absence of HOWARD THE DUCK and ISHTAR on DVD). It's certainly less dated than MAD WORLD and more child-friendly than RAT RACE.
4 out of 5 found this helpful.
Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.