Sunday, May 29, 2005

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Movies: Part One

The Inevitably Evil Provenance of Big Bags of Money

I've been thinking about something today and have decided to make this an ongoing, random feature of my blog - observations of important life lessons gleaned from moveies.

Today's observation - if you find a big bag of money in the woods, on the side of the road, or even in your backyard, treat it as though it were as radioactive as the stuff slated for storage at Yucca Mountain. Seriously, can you think of any legitimate reason for carrying an obscene amount of money in a duffel bag? Normal, right-thinking, clean-living people rely on bank accounts, cashier's checks, personal checks and PayPal to store and distribute their cash. They do not walk into a Mercedes dealership with 40 large in a smelly gym bag. They just don't.

Today I saw Millions in the theatre, which is what made me think about all this. If you haven't seen it yet, I strongly encourage it. If you're the type who cries at Kodak commercials (like me), bring plenty of tissues. If you're made of sterner stuff, you might find it a bit saccharine in places, but on the whole, it's a delightful and whimsical modern fairy tale.

The premise is simple - two brothers discover a giant bag of money near a railroad track. It adds up to just over 229,000 pounds sterling. Your first clue that this is a fairy tale is the part of the premise that Britain is switching over to the euro in about 2 weeks, so the kids don't have long to spend or otherwise dispose of the cash. I'm not going to say anything more about it.

My first thought was that the kids were going to end up in trouble of an unsavory sort, since money is always owned by someone and you can be damn certain that someone is going to miss a quarter of a million pounds. It's not like dropping 20 bucks in a parking lot or getting back the wrong change in the grocery store. And, as I already mentioned, the sorts who lose big bags of money tend to be criminal, amoral, and generally fairly nasty. Plus, they're usually single-minded in their efforts to get back their cash.

Millions is not the only film that reveals this important life lesson. One of the best (and creepiest) is Shallow Grave, a very dark look at what happens when three friends discover their new flatmate is A.) dead and B.) figuratively sitting on a load of money. Funny enough, and I didn't know this until I IMDB-ed the links for this entry, both movies are directed by the same person, Danny Boyle.

I'm sure there are other examples of this principle and I'd love to hear about them in the comments section. I'm also thinking about Fargo, where the baddie buries the money in the snow. Although the money isn't found by some puzzled farm boy, the point is clear:
big bag of money + criminals + odd burial spot = potentially dangerous situation for the finder.

So, you have been warned. If you find a shoebox of cash in your hedge or a Louis Vitton suitcase crammed with stacks of bills, just walk away. You'll thank me later.


At 1 June 2005 at 21:59, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us not forget the similar life lesson learned in the John Cusack movie "Money for Nothing." The unemployeed longshoreman Joey Coyle, finds 1.2 million dollars which had fallen out of an armored truck. Bally-who and much riga-ma-roll insues.

At 1 June 2005 at 21:59, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh that was me just now, - Shane

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