“Blank Check” is a low-yield Disney programmer that may generate some interest among pre-teen and young adolescent auds. Theatrical B.O. likely will amount to small change, but pic may do better when deposited in video outlets.
With more than a wink and a nod in the direction of the “Home Alone” blockbusters — and a preemptive hint of the forthcoming “Richie Rich”– director Rupert Wainwright and writers Blake Snyder and Colby Carr bend over backward to contrive a fantasy-fulfillment scenario for pic’s target audience.
Eleven-year-old Preston Waters (Brian Bonsall) feels badly put-upon by his penny-pinching, aphorism-spouting father (James Rebhorn) and pushed around by his bullying older siblings (Michael Faustino, Chris Demetral). The final straw comes when Preston is invited to a classmate’s amusement-park birthday party, but lacks enough money to join other guests on the A-ticket rides. After that, Preston wishes aloud that he had his own money.
Quicker than you can say “I made my parents disappear!” Preston runs into fugitive criminal Quigley (Miguel Ferrer). Or, to be more precise, Quigley runs into Preston’s bike, with his car. Anxious not to arouse police interest, he gives the boy a half-completed check to pay for the damage, then drives off.
Preston fills in the amount of the check –$ 1 million, the exact sum Quigley has deposited in the money-laundering bank operated by a former cohort (Michael Lerner) — and cashes it.
Palming himself off as the young aide of a fictitious “Mr. Macintosh,” Preston buys a palatial home in his neighborhood, then stocks it with high-tech games.
Tyro director Wainwright made his mark as an award-winning maker of commercial spots, and his experience serves him well here: Seldom has conspicuous consumption been made to seem so exhilarating.
“Blank Check” wallows in the exuberance of excess so enthusiastically, for so long, that even naive youngsters may have trouble buying pic’s ultimate “money can’t buy happiness” message.
It takes more than an hour to get to the real pay-off — Preston’s “Home Alone”-style defense of his home against a siege by Quigley and his cohorts. Unfortunately, the sequenceis too short to live up to its build-up, and not ingenious enough.
Bonsall is believable without being particularly memorable. Rick Ducommun offers an adequate John Candy impersonation as the chauffeur hired by the young millionaire.
Ferrer, savvy enough to play it straight, makes a wonderfully menacing foil. Debbie Allen overdoes flustery hysterics as a caterer.
Although plot is set in small-town Indiana, pic was shot in central Texas. Tech credits are unremarkable.