Yesterday someone asked me if I’d seen Martin Scorcese’s ‘The Colour of Money’. I said yes, then ran away. The joke was on them, though. I hadn’t seen it at all. Tee hee hee. I do love a good prank. Here is my review of ‘The Colour of Money’:
‘The Colour of Money’ belongs to the noble tradition of ‘Rain Man’, ‘I am Sam’ and ‘Forrest Gump’. It stars Tom Cruise as an endearingly handicapped man, who, in spite of his handicap, or perhaps because of it, succeeds in brightening up the lives of the normal people around him. Dustin Hoffman provides support as Cruise’s brother, Brucie, fulfilling the clause in the Rain Man contract stipulating that he would have to ‘play the normal’ in his next film, and that Cruise would ‘get to be the disabled [sic] this time’.
When we meet Cruise’s character, Teddy Redbrown, in the first scene, his condition is undisclosed. Through the subtle inclusion of understated cues by the director, however, we begin to suspect that there is something compellingly wrong with Teddy. Note his khaki shorts pulled up to his ribs. Mark his child’s combover. Observe the way he says “Hi I’m Teddy” and sticks his hand out rigidly in a sort of actor’s approximation of a child’s approximation of an adult greeting. See how he squints at traffic lights in anxious perplexity. Teddy seems to tick every box on the movie checklist: he is really shaping up to be a Classic Hollywood Savant! I can’t wait to see what kind of scrapes he will get into! (contd. below the picture)
Sadly, the viewer’s (that is, my) high hopes prove (that is, proved) to be premature. Teddy’s handicap is decidedly underwhelming. He is colour blind. Screenwriters take note: this is really scraping the barrel as far as disabilities are concerned. Teddy’s distinct lack of a severe behavioural disorder and/or genetic condition make it very difficult for me to sympathise with him. A harsher critic might say that he is just a normal with defective eyes.
The plot of the film concerns Teddy’s quest to perceive the hue of an American dollar bill. “I got to know what colour that note is, Brucie” he implores, “I got to see the Colour of Money”. Brucie and Teddy set off on a road trip. Teddy finally gets to experience the vernal greenness of the dollar bill. But at the very moment that he learns what it is to be a normal, he loses all of his innocence. “We gotta go back, Brucie” he says. So they get in a time machine and go back to the time before Teddy was able to see the colour green. His innocence is successfully restored. The conclusion is somewhat confusing and inconsistent, but these are the vagaries of time travel, no?
I was very disappointed by this film. It promised to do a full Rain Man but it did no such thing. Who cares what the colour of money is? No one. Who cares how many matches fell on the floor? Everyone. Tom Cruise has the acting ability to play a convincing challenged person, but he is wasted on this film. His heart-rending squinting does little to render Teddy interesting to the sensitive and broad-minded viewer. The sensitive and broad-minded viewer knows that Teddy’s problem is only eye-deep, and so the sensitive and broad-minded viewer is thwarted in his attempt to feel sorry for him. The sensitive and broad-minded viewer deserves much better. Give us a savant we can get our teeth into, Hollywood.