‘For Love Or Money’ Blu-Ray Review – Michael J. Fox Anchors Enjoyable Romantic Comedy

Few people in the early 90s were as perfectly suited as Michael J. Fox to play a hot shot, confident mover-and-shaker with a drive beyond his young years. The role was certainly not foreign to him, as The Secret of My Success and Doc Hollywood tapped into that determined energy that made him such a transfixing presence on screen. The Back to the Future trilogy had made him a global superstar, so he could pretty much do whatever he wanted. Unfortunately this only got him so far, as would be proven with the tepid response to his 1993 romantic comedy For Love or Money. On this production, Fox was working with an on-the-rise Barry Sonnenfeld, who had the two fan-favorite Addams Family films under his belt. Sure, the script was nothing truly groundbreaking, but those who have discovered it on HBO in the subsequent years have discovered some of the ways in which this film proves delightful. Now that it is finally available on Blu-Ray, perhaps it will once again find a new audience? 

We first meet Doug Ireland (Michael J. Fox) as he is traversing around New York City making deals and forking over more money than most people make in a year. This is deceptive; Doug is not the shot-caller he appears to be. Doug is a concierge at a high-end hotel and he does his job better than anyone else. Do you need a ticket to that sold out show? Doug can get it. Did you forget to buy a present for your wife on your anniversary? Doug has the perfect item right up his sleeve. He is a life saver to all who crosses his path, but what he truly wants is to be in charge of something himself. He has dreams of owning his own hotel on Roosevelt Island, and he will scrape every cent he can together to make that dream a reality. The most likely way this might happen is with the help of billionaire Christian Hanover, a businessman of questionable morals who might just be willing to take all the good will that Doug has built up with him and transfer that over to the business world. 

The issue with this is that, while very driven, Doug is not a slimeball and Christian is having an affair with Andy Hart (Gabrielle Anwar, Burn Notice), a young perfume saleswoman who has a flirtatious dynamic with Doug. Does Doug care about Andy enough to try to court her away from the man who is never really going to leave his wife no matter what he says? Is the allure of fulfilling your dreams strong enough to justify compromising your morals? These are only a few of the questions at the center of this narrative. Even before you press play, you can pretty much guess where this film is going to end up. This is a romantic comedy, and that is not really the point. The important thing is how we feel on the journey to the destination. On that point, the movie succeeds in large part thanks to the talented ensemble that is assembled here. Fox feels at home in this role as he is pulling a rabbit out of a hat at nearly every turn. It is a blast watching him portray a man with nearly all the answers. Equal credit must be given to Anwar who is sometimes written a bit reductively but brings a bit more to the role with her performance along with her chemistry with Fox. 

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At just over 90 minutes, this movie is the perfect length for your ideal romantic comedy. For those worried this might skew too much on the romance side, rest assured that the comedy is well represented here. From the goombah energy of Dan Hedaya (Dick) to the strait-laced neuroses of Bob Balaban (Best In Show), Doug plays off the people in his life really well.. In terms of direction, there is not a lot of flair to the execution, but there are certain atypical shots that underscore the internal rumblings of a character which shows that this was not a phoned-in effort. The film was filmed on location in New York City which surely added to the budget but proves to be a wise choice for the sake of authenticity. The breezy plot coupled with an ensemble that is difficult to hate makes this romantic comedy an effort worthy of your time. 

Video Quality

For Love Or Money makes its Blu-Ray debut courtesy of Kino Classics with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 that appears to be derived from a really solid older master that is in great shape. Instances of print damage such as white specks occasionally pop up, but overall clarity and detail is excellent. The presentation is enjoyable throughout most of the runtime with image stability and delineation being very strong. This transfer maintains the natural film grain of the presentation with only minor instances of seeming a bit loose. The picture maintains a nice depth even in long shots, and colors are well saturated with the bright hues of the various pieces of merchandise coming through. Skin tones are natural and consistent with subtle facial features easily noticeable in closeup. Black levels do experience some instances of crush in some of the darker footage. This presentation is a really nice effort that should please fans. 

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Audio Quality

This new Blu-Ray comes with a both a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio mix that features all of the sounds of the film quite well. This is a film that utilizes music effectively, including numerous bombastic tunes that really come alive. This and all of the other music is presented with great clarity and a pleasing fidelity as they come through the room. The dialogue holds up wonderfully, coming through clearly without being stepped on by the music or sound effects. The environmental effects are delineated nicely from the bustling hotel lobby to the sounds of New York City radiating from every direction. The track avoids most instances of age related wear and tear or distortion. This is a track that represents the film in an impressive manner. Optional English subtitles are provided on this disc.

Special Features

  • Audio Commentary: Entertainment Journalist and Author Bryan Reesman delivers a fun and informative commentary track which points out where some of the creatives were at this point in their career, the errors in continuity, discusses the real life hustle of a concierge, the New York shooting locations, the unique framing of certain shots and more. This is light and occasionally snarky but tinged with love which makes this a fun listen. 
  • Trailers: There is a Trailer 1 (1:41) and Trailer 2 (2:04) for the film. There are also trailers provided for The Secret Of My Success, The Hard Way, Life With Mikey and Big Trouble

 

Final Thoughts

For Love Or Money is a pretty engaging romantic comedy that succeeds in large part thanks to the presence of Michael J. Fox. Barry Sonnenfeld is not pushing himself to any new heights with this release, but it shows a seamless quality that is impressive in its simplicity. Kino Classics has released a Blu-Ray featuring a really solid A/V presentation and a nifty commentary track. If you have a soft spot for this title and have been waiting patiently for it to hit Blu-Ray, this should not disappoint. Recommended 

For Love Or Money is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

 

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