The odd-couple pairing of C. Thomas Howell and Wallace Shawn is the brightest element of NICKEL & DIME, an otherwise mediocre comic action tale.
The story begins when flashy, free-spirited conman/lawyer Jack Stone (Howell), an "heir chaser," or specialist in probate cases, teams with straight-arrow accountant Everett Willis (Shawn), a forty-one-year-old man determinedly stuck in the fifties, whose idols are Hopalong Cassidy and Peggy Lee
("There's been no good music since 1955," he opines, mourning the advent of Elvis) to find the missing heir to the estate of a slain multimillionaire businessman.
Desperately broke, Stone has returned home to take over the impoverished legal business of his ill father, whom he's put into an old-age home, and hires Everett to straighten out his back taxes when the IRS sues him. With a frenetic but weak-kneed and almost totally implausible screenplay by Ben
Moses (who also directed), Eddy Pollon and Seth Front, Stone and Everett initially loathe but grow to respect and learn from each other in the course of their adventure, as they are beset by villainous rival heir-sleuth Sammy Thorton (Roy Brocksmith) and a mobster (Matthew Edison) and his inept
gunsels out to recover a cache of gems the dead businessman smuggled into the country (he replaced the pimientos with rubies in a shipment of olives).
Woefully coincidentally, Stone discovers that the missing heir is none other than the girlfriend, Cathleen Markson (Lise Cutter), now an assistant DA, he jilted seven years earlier at the altar, with whom he is soon reconciled, while Everett falls for wacky sweet-hearted hooker Destiny Charm (Lynn
Danielson, who also produced this picture), which awkwardly completes the buddy-movie formula in which each man must have some female romantic interest, thus eliminating any possibility in viewers' minds of homosexual attraction.
The byplay between Howell (ET, SOUL MAN) and Shawn (the rotund, acclaimed playwright and sometime actor whose father, William, was the founder and publisher of the New Yorker) is often hilarious, although the filmmakers rely on too many post-dubbed jokes and wisecracks to help bolster the weak
screenplay. While Moses's direction is strictly routine, with the action scenes especially flat, the movie is aided immensely by the presence of some delightful screen veterans, including Eric Christmas and Carl Ballantine as a pair of Howell's father's bickering cronies and Kathleen Freeman as a
no-nonsence probate court judge.
Shot in late 1990 and released briefly in Los Angeles before heading to the video marketplace, NICKEL & DIME looks and feels like a busted TV pilot. And, for what it matters, the title is never explained. (Sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: PG
- Review: The odd-couple pairing of C. Thomas Howell and Wallace Shawn is the brightest element of NICKEL & DIME, an otherwise mediocre comic action tale. The story begins when flashy, free-spirited conman/lawyer Jack Stone (Howell), an "heir chaser," or specialist… (more)