Free Money

One of the rumors circulating around Marlon Brando's less-than-stellar acting comeback is that while working on Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, he had all his lines fed to him through an ear-piece. Though it's never clear exactly who or what is controlling Brando's thoughts and actions throughout the new direct-to-video comedy Free Money (Shriners? Freemasons? Aliens?), they help turn the film into a bona fide freak show. The seventysomething Brando, who looks and acts like a bloated, amphetamine-fueled Wilford Brimley, stars as a demented, Bible-loving warden obsessed with his new truck and protective of his two high-school-age twin daughters. The curdled would-be antics begin when a pair of hapless working-class stiffs (Charles Sheen and Thomas Haden Church) are tricked into marrying Brando's daughters, an act that leads the men to try to escape Brando's deranged wrath by robbing a money train. Donald Sutherland, David Arquette, Mira Sorvino, and Martin Sheen all show up at odd, seemingly random intervals, almost as if the actors just wanted to work with Brando whether or not their parts made any sense. Sutherland, for example, gives such a sober, serious performance that he seems to have forgotten he's in a comedy rather than some lost work of Ingmar Bergman. Brando is the entire show here: He threatens Sheen and Church with various testicle-related punishments. He breaks down doors with his bare hands. He accuses his enemies of being "hogsnot," "muff-divers," or "dingleberries." In an odd bit of seemingly improvised behavior, he even beats Sorvino over the head with her own shoe. All in all, it's a fascinating car-wreck of a performance that turns an otherwise dispensable comedy into a crazed potential cult classic.

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