Money Talks - * * 1/2*

A run-of-the-mill buddy comedy, Money Talks is kickstarted by the rapid-fire banter of its lead, Chris Tucker. His entertaining non-stop barage makes what could have been a dull and bland rehash vibrant and full of humor.

Franklin Hatchett (Chris Tucker) is a fast-talking con man who scalps tickets at his job at the local car wash. However, after the cocky investigative reporter James Russell (Charlie Sheen) exposes his scam, he finds himself arrested. Franklin has the bad luck to be handcuffed to international jewel thief Villard (Gerrald Ismael) on his way to the courthouse. When Villard stages a deadly escape, Franklin gets dragged along. He manages to escape Villard before being killed himself, but then finds himself accused of the murders Villard committed during the escape.

He contacts James Russell, whom he believes owes him one for sending him off to the slammer. Seeing high ratings potential, James comes to Franklin’s rescue, but must keep him under wraps until sweeps week begins the following Monday. The catch: James is getting married over the weekend to heiress Grace Cipriani (Heather Locklear), whose rich parents (including Paul Sorvino) might not take well to being in the presence of a wanted criminal. Meanwhile, both the LAPD and Villard, who believes Franklin could disrupt a diamond heist, are out to kill Franklin, a man who stands out in any crowd.

Money Talks thrives on the sheer exuberance of Chris Tucker. His fast-talking shrill delivery, a distraction in this summer’s The Fifth Element, finds its place here. His mile-a-minute pace enlivens and lifts this otherwise routine buddy comedy.

Charlie Sheen, on the other hand, is mostly dead weight in the film. Sure, Tucker needed a straight man for his schtick, and a buddy movie isn’t much of one without a buddy, but they could have infused some sort of personality into him. Heather Locklear and Paul Sorvino are much more interesting as his future family members.

The plot in Money Talks is flimsy at best. A lot of it doesn’t make much sense. The international diamond smugglers don’t seem to have a problem using brute force to cause the prison break, but, for some reason, they resort to an extremely contorted plan in order to obtain the diamonds. With all their firepower, why not just invade and seize them? I guess there wouldn’t have been much of a movie if they did.

Chris Tucker has quite a heavy load to carry with this movie, and he succeeds. Since he’s able to enliven this dreck, imagine what he could do with a well conceived movie?

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