The folks out at Image Entertainment shipped us out a copy of Money Matters to cover, and if you thought yesterday’s entrant, The Littlest Angel, was heavy handed, then brace yourself for a fist made of iron with this one. It only just hit shelves today, but chances are there won’t be a whole lot of interest going on unless you already enjoy this kind of thing.
Money Matters follows the title character–yes, it’s about a girl named Monique “Money” Matters–who finds herself neck deep in a whole lot of very urban problems. Her mother’s trying to keep a roof over their head, which isn’t easy since she often finds herself living with a series of less than sterling men, and daughter Money is having plenty of girl-growing-up problems of her own in the midst of a Catholic school that is often less than supportive. But as mother and daughter struggle toward their own ends, never really knowing just how similar said ends are. But when Money ends up meeting a new girl that offers up a surprisingly friendly posture, that friendship will push a few boundaries in its own right. How will it all end up? Well, you’ll find out.
This is the kind of movie that made Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood possible in the first place, a movie so thick with lessons and morals that it might as well have some guy come by the camera, look into it, and shout “Message!” every time they try to make a point. The only problem with that approach, however, would be that by the end of the movie the poor schmoe assigned to the role would keel over from exhaustion, because he’d be shouting every couple of minutes.
Money Matters is thicker than hip-deep caramel and moves just about as fast. It’s dull, pompous and spectacularly preachy. It’s clearly trying to be a powerful independent movie, and that is, in a nutshell, Money Matters’ biggest problem. It’s trying, it’s clearly trying, it’s trying so hard that it’s next to impossible to take it seriously because it’s so busy taking itself seriously that there’s no room for anyone else. Even better, it’ll be another one of those movies where pretty much every guy–from the drug dealing boyfriend to the rapist ex-boyfriend to the child-molesting Catholic priest–is a complete waste of skin who exists for no other reason than to give Money and her mother yet another Challenge to Overcome. It’s every inch as bad as Tyler Perry, but almost worse for its clear lack of a shooting budget.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Money Matters a three out of ten for trying way too hard and taking itself way too seriously. Being “indie” is not an excuse for building a half-decent narrative and making a story more than a handful of people want to hear about.