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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Twenty Bucks (1993)



Reviews and Comments

This is one of those films where a brilliant idea is executed poorly. The main character is a twenty dollar bill. At the film's opening, it is dispensed by an ATM, changing hands many times before the film's close. We see short yet revealing moments from the lives of the people the bill encounters; though this would tend to make for an open-ended film, it is surprisingly conclusive, and more than just a mishmash of disjointed vignettes. Miraculously, the twenty dollar bill comes to greater life as a character as many of the humans, which may have been the intent. The highlight of the film, by far, is a brief anecdote about Christopher Lloyd and Steve Buscemi. Believe it or not, Christopher Lloyd turns in a genuinely great dramatic performance, powerful and memorable without being overacted. He's a hardened criminal, intelligent, cold, and calculating, without being the stereotypical unredeemably evil villain. So, with so much praise, why the average rating? Except for the Lloyd/Buscemi story and the film's unique premise, there is precious little else to cherish. Most of the stories are told half-heartedly, some interesting only to see how the bill changes hands. The film improves in retrospect, but most of the time you spend actually viewing it, you'll wish you were doing something else. The script was originally written in 1935, and shelved, to be unearthed and revised decades later by the writer's son. Too bad he didn't do a better job; the idea certainly had potential.