Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Cannes: “Money Monster” a Middling Effort, Star George Clooney Skips Starry Dinner

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Jodie Foster’s “Money Monster” is a middling movie with great ambitions that aren’t fully realized. The George Clooney-Julia Roberts effort which opens today in the US was shown in Cannes last to a lot of fanfare. But it’s a commercial studio film from Sony, and it was brought to Cannes to gain international marketing renown. Because you know, if “Money Monster” were going to be a big hit, Foster, Clooney and Roberts would have been all over the US media this week promoting it. Instead, they are here in Cannes.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting, or doesn’t have a couple of surprise performances of note from newcomers Jack O’Connell and Caitriona Balfe. It’s also great to see Giancarlo Esposito as the captain of the New York police.

But “Money Monster” doesn’t know if it’s anti-Wall Street or pro, and in its short 90 minutes the theme is abandoned and the movie becomes a thriller. The plot: a Jim Cramer like TV financial advisor played by Clooney is held hostage in his studio by O’Connell, who’s lost money on an investment Clooney touted. Roberts is Clooney’s TV producer. Much more we don’t learn about the characters — they are all surface, there to fill a purpose in the plot.

All the actors do their best but this is a talky movie. Roberts, I think, only stands up twice. Mostly she sits. (Contrast this with the way Helen Mirren moves around in “Eye in the Sky.”) Foster doesn’t have a great visual style– see “The Beaver”– and I’d rather have seen her act in a film anyway.

The cast (well the stars) hit the Cannes red carpet with a vengeance. Clooney was the only one to include a spouse– Amal — in the processional. Later the Clooneys skipped the big private dinner at Michelangelo in Antibes (set for 90 people) and went to dine at another locale with friends. Very weird. Roberts went barefoot on the red carpet because she thought she towered over Foster. (For days all I’ve heard around town are horror stories about her repellent publicist.)

Also on the red carpet: Vanessa Redgrave with son Carlo, famed director James Ivory, Julianne Moore, and the mayor of Cannes.

Only Balfe turned up for an after party at the Hotel du Cap bar, but there were plenty of other stars hobnobbing until the wee hours including Mick Jagger, Brett Ratner, Naomi Watts, and so on. Roberts and her very bearded husband, Danny Moder, sailed through the bar to their rooms at one point without stopping.

What will happen with “Money Monster”? The box office depends solely on Clooney and Roberts drawing an audience. There’s no love story, and no one to root for. These will be problems. But O’Connell, of them all, who we met in Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” is going to soar after this.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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