For, Friday, July 10, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unless you are completely unaware of the fact that movies can now be streamed on the Internet — which would require your having been in a coma for several years — you probably know about Disney+, which is the 7-month-old go-to site for watching all things Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar and National Geographic. Well, not ALL things, of course; just whatever has been selected for a particular month. And you may be aware of the recent brouhaha over Disney’s 1994 film ‘Blank Check,’ which is part of the current lineup. It’s a terrible film about an 11-year-old boy who essentially steals $1 million and blows it on expensive toys. It’s a reprehensible film in every way but what has parents up in arms now is a moment toward the end when the boy and a 30-something woman exchange a kiss. This isn’t the first time this complaint has surfaced online; more than a decade ago the film showed up on Netflix and engendered the same complaints. Sadly, this wasn’t the first or last tasteless movie produced by Disney and sold to kids. So here’s my review, initially published in the Deseret News on Feb. 11, 1994.

"Blank Check" is "Home Alone," Disney-style.

It's also an uneven blend of the cable MTV and QVC channels, by way of "Brewster's Millions."

In other words, original it's not.

The story has an 11-year-old computer nerd (Brian Bonsall, who was once the youngest of the Keaton clan on TV's "Family Ties") "finding" a million bucks and blowing it in six days on a plethora of high-tech toys.

This gives director Rupert Wainwright (Hammer's music videos, Sinbad's Reebok commercials) an opportunity to stop the action every so often for dozens of mini-music videos, each showing Bonsall playing with the kind of upscale, brand-name trinkets most of us can't afford — from a video wall to an indoor-outdoor water slide to a virtual reality game to all kinds of oversized athletic equipment.


Brian Bonsall and Karen Duffy, 'Blank Check' (1994)

The story has ex-con Miguel Ferrer digging up his stash — a million bucks in cold cash — and taking it to a Midwest bank where a former associate (Michael Lerner) is bank president. Ferrer tells Lerner to launder the money and come up with a million in clean bills by the next day.

How Bonsall gets the money instead is wildly complicated … which is not to say amusing.

Bonsall then spends the rest of the film frittering the money away — he moves into a $300,000 house (a castle, actually), hires a full-time chauffeur to be his pal (Rick Ducommun) and tries to elude the bad guys (Ferrer, Lerner and rapper Tone Loc).

Bonsall also strikes up an oddly "romantic" relationship with a glamorous bank teller who turns out to be an FBI agent (Karen Duffy).

Eventually, however, Bonsall must confront his own deceit and discover his inner child … which certainly seems older than his outer child.


The kids in the audience seemed satisfied that villains fell into the swimming pool and one was hit in the groin with a baseball.

Favorite moment: Toward the end of the film, Bonsall's negligent father apologizes for his parental neglect, making his confession to the back of a chair, never knowing that his son is sitting in the chair. You have to see it to believe it.

On second thought, no one should have to see it.

Farcical plotting can take on wild proportions, of course, but in "Blank Check" they just get sillier and sillier without ever getting funnier. The result is a very dumb movie that talks down to the kids who are its target audience.

Especially at the end, when it pretends to moralize about doing the right thing — after 90 minutes of demonstrating that anyone who steals a million bucks and doesn't get caught can get away with anything.

The audience should feel insulted. I certainly did.

"Blank Check" is rated PG for comic violence and some vulgar language.