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Film / Blank Check

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Blank Check (released in Europe as Blank Cheque) is a 1994 movie directed by Rupert Wainwright, starring Brian Bonsall, Karen Duffy, Miguel Ferrer, Tone Lōc, Michael Lerner and James Rebhorn and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

The story begins when bank robber Carl Quigley escapes from jail. Soon after his prison break, Quigley enters a warehouse and recovers $1,000,000 he had hidden there sometime before his arrest. After that introduction the plot switches to Preston Waters, a 12-year-old boy tormented by his brothers and ignored by his hyper-capitalist dad. He goes to a bank to open an account but gets laughed out, while at the same time Quigley is exchanging the bills through a corrupt bank employee using checks. After the meeting, Quigley runs over Preston's bicycle while he was riding it in the bank's parking lot.

Pressed for time as he sees a police car patrolling the area, Quigley gives Preston a signed blank check and tells him to give it to his dad so they can buy him a new bike. Instead, Preston writes himself a check for $1,000,000, cashes it with the inadvertent help of the corrupt bank employee and uses the money to go on a spending spree and romance a 30-year-old bank teller — until Quigley finds out what has been done and comes after him.

Not to be confused with the Art James Game Show of the same name that ran on NBC for 26 weeks in 1975, or the movie podcast Blank Check with Griffin & David, which eventually did cover their namesake for one of its episodes.

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Actually, I Am Him: When the trio captured Preston, they demand to know where's Mr. Macintosh. Preston admits that it was him the whole time.
  • Adults Are Useless: The FBI is only useful as The Cavalry, Preston's dad is a Jerkass, the bad guys are a Terrible Trio, the limo driver disappears after Preston lets him go because the money has run dry, and nobody else sees anything weird with a kid walking around with a backpack full of dollar bills that we find out early in the film have a big "FBI" stamped on them with UV ink courtesy of Agent Shaynote .
  • Asshole Victim: Quigley and his goons kidnap the bully who has been harassing Preston for most of the film and give him a High-Altitude Interrogation to try to find out where the money is. He tearfully tells them about Preston and his "assistant work" for "Mr. Macintosh".
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Near the end, Shay gives Preston a chaste yet tender smooch on the mouth. Obviously, not everyone will be charmed by this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Quigley escaped from prison and gave his stolen money to a trusted accomplice only for him to give it all to a 12-year-old boy who promptly spent it all. He tries to exact revenge (and get some of the money back) but just gets humiliated and sent to prison again with charges of laundering, forgeries and everything else that said 12-year-old boy did.
  • Credit Card Plot: The movie has this where a villain planning to embezzle $1 million from a bank runs over a kid's bicycle, and since he's in a hurry, gives the kid a blank check to buy a new one. The kid then decides to put $1 million as the check amount, and receives it in cash due to the villain's confederate, the bank manager, assumes that he's the henchmen that the villain had mentioned. The kid then spends the entire million on a mansion and all kinds of toys, coming to a head when a massive party stops in the middle because he doesn't have enough cash to pay the caterer and the villains find out where the kid lives. The kid gets off scot-free as the villains are arrested by the FBI and he walks away from all this stuff.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The whole plot happens because Quigley is asking Biederman (a corrupt banker) to launder one million dollars and Preston arrives at the bank with a check signed by Quigley for one million dollars. Biederman just assumes that Preston is Quigley's bagman and hands him the cash. Notably later on Quigley, in a rage, points out to Biederman that he wouldn't have sent a kid for that kind of job.
  • Double Standard Rape: Female on Male: Shay kisses Preston on the lips even though he's a prepubescent boy, while surrounded by police officers no less. If the genders were switched, the movie would likely never have been released and there'd be some real-life arrests.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: All of the events of the film happen in less than a week. Lampshaded by Quigley being utterly shocked that Preston could spend the entire million dollars he took from Quigleynote  so quickly.
  • Fanservice: Shay Stanley for the boys and their dads in the audience, if you can look past the fact she technically dates and actually romantically kisses a child!
  • FBI Agent: Shay is revealed to be an undercover agent.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Preston ends up spending most of his acquired fortune in less than a week. Quigley is actually stupefied that a kid could burn through that much money so fast.
    Quigley: How could you spend... a million dollars... in just six days?
    Juice: You must have not been shopping lately.
  • "Home Alone" Antics: Near the end, Preston suddenly knows how to use the layout of his castle to stop the bad guys who are out to get him.
  • Inflation Negation:
    • Preston is given just $2 to spend at the carnival; he ends up finding only two kiddie rides worth that little.
    • Part of Preston's father's Establishing Character Moment is filling a blank check that Preston's grandparents sent him as a birthday present with the grand deposit sum of eleven dollars (even if Preston's deadpan request for him to make it for a million dollars was as excessive as he chastised him for, there is no bank in history with an interest rate good enough to make something so little a "worthwhile addition" as he tells Preston — Preston uses his brothers' computer to calculate how much it would take him to earn a million on the interest rate of the account his father set for him alone and it comes back to about a thousand years). And he still gives Preston flak over not earning money.
    • Quigley is genuinely shocked by how Preston was able to spend a million dollars in a week, despite having just chased the kid through his privately-owned castle and around the private amusement park/arcade he had installed throughout it. Though he probably assumed there's still a few thousand at least, unaware he spent some of the money on other stuff besides the party.
  • Invented Individual: Preston's alter ego "Mr. Macintosh."
  • Jerkass:
    • Preston's parents. His dad is an ultra-capitalist douchebag who only cares about his sons as long as they're trying to earn money, and the mother is a little better; she seldom initiates the abuse, but she does give her support. His parents essentially let Preston's older brothers be complete assholes to him simply because they're starting up their own business and he isn't. Never mind the fact that Preston is only 12 years old. The most jaw-dropping moment, however, is probably when Preston's bike is run over by a car and his parents are more concerned with the fact that he "didn't take care of his property" than, you know, the fact that their son was almost hit by a car. They then proceed to ground him for saying that the way they treat him compared to his brothers is unfair, totally unaware that they just proved him right. His parents do get better, though, in the end, as do his brothers.
    • Preston's brothers are able to use his bedroom as their business headquarters and steal his life savings to fund their business. They also get away with stealing Preston's money and hitting him when he uses their computer to make a joke at their expense.
    • The bitchy party organizer who steals money from Preston without letting him get a word in.
    • Quigley, but he's a criminal and Preston took 'his' money.
    • Biederman, towards Shay. Much to his shock, she turned out to be an undercover FBI agent and has him arrested.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Despite treating him poorly, Preston's father's assessment of his son turns out to be correct. Preston gets a million dollars and fritters it away on junk food, a castle, and amusement rides for his backyard, showing no sense of responsibility or altruism with his fortune. That being said, his father certainly didn't help him learn responsibility. A kid who's only given a pittance to spend at a carnival is going to have trouble realizing just how fast you can blow large amounts of money. Quite simply, Preston acted like he'd won the lottery, having no knowledge how to handle wealth—something he'd never had before.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Preston misused the blank check Quigley gave him, spent all of the money Quigley had stolen in a week, and possibly forged the signature for the castle deed. In the end, Quigley returns to jail on his own charges but also gets any of Preston's possible crimes pinned to him. Preston gets to go home and return to his quiet suburban life.
    • Also Shay Stanley, a woman in her thirties who kisses a prepubescent boy on the lips, in front of police officers, and promises to check in on him when he's thirteen!
  • Likes Older Women: Preston's schoolboy infatuation with Shay.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Preston comes up with "Mr. Macintosh" because he has a Macintosh computer.
  • Mock Millionaire: Preston essentially gets to play kid millionaire for a week before Quigley comes after him and the FBI shuts him down.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: While Preston does buy childish things with his money, they're glossed over with montages and the plot focuses on significantly more adult uses of his money.
  • Motor Mouth: The party organizer talk three hundred miles per minute and does not lets Preston say a word edgewise about her decisions of what to add to the party (which turn out to be quite expensive).
  • Ms. Fanservice: If you can ignore her questionable actions then Shay Stanley is a very beautiful, curvaceous lady with slick raven hair, smoldering eyes, full lips, long slender legs and a husky voice the film isn't hesitant to remind you of. Coupled with her warm, charming behavior, is it any wonder why Preston falls for her?
  • Papa Wolf: Really downplayed and even unearned — at the climax of the film, before the "Home Alone" Antics kick in and after Preston figures out that he only has like $300 left of the million from all the expenses he's done so far, his dad walks into "Mr. Machintosh's" office and talks to the back of the seat where Mr. Machintosh (actually Preston) is sitting in and gives him a speech about how he dislikes that he's taking his son's time away from him with his "assistant" work and how everything he's done so far in the movie is giving Preston some necessary (although admittedly excessive in retrospective) Tough Love before walking out. Preston's response is a My God, What Have I Done? moment... but Preston while irresponsible is only 12 and his dad's been a jackass to him throughout the entire movie.
    • Also while his father had no way of knowing this Preston was in danger and instead of protecting his son from the villain who wants to kill him, he goes after Preston's boss who is Preston himself.
  • Obliviously Evil: Preston's parents, especially his father. They constantly mock their 12-year-old child for not having any money, humiliate him in front of his classmates by giving him pennies to spend at a theme park, and allow his brothers to bully and harass him just because they "have a business." When Preston is nearly ran over by a car, the parents are more concerned with his ruined bike. Instead of recognizing how badly they are traumatizing their youngest son, all of this abuse is portrayed as regular, no-nonsense parenting.
  • Parental Favoritism: Preston's father prefers his brothers over him because they're starting their own business... despite being Hopeless with Tech even by early-90's standards.
  • Precocious Crush: Preston develops a crush on a thirty-something-year-old woman. Things aren't any better when she promises to call him up when he's older and kisses him on the lips.
  • Product Placement: Macintosh is promoted throughout the movie. Preston's computer is a Mac, there is a close-up of his ImageWriter printer, and Mr. Macintosh is the fake name he hides behind, resulting in the name "Mr. Macintosh" being used over and over again.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Apart from the fact that his family is abusive towards him, everything Preston does in the movie is seen as cool, not to mention how no one in-universe has a problem with his relationship with Shay.
  • Scary Black Man: Averted with Juice, but he is a criminal.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After learning his dad's apology, having only $2 left, and realizing no one at the party really cared about him (or rather "Mr. Macintosh"), Preston tells everyone that "Mr. Macintosh" fled and to just leave and take back the gifts, so they did without a second thought.
  • Shopping Montage: Preston does this after cashing the blank check to stuff his mansion with toys, while Zendetta's cover of "Money (That's What I Want)" plays in the background.
  • Stupid Crooks: Quigley, Biederman and Juice are a bunch of bumbling scofflaws in the vein of Home Alone and the whole plot occurs because Biederman (the head of the bank Quigley is using to launder his money) mistakes Preston for Juice when Preston arrives to the bank with a check signed by Quigley that coincidentally is for the exact same amount of money Quigley wants Biederman to launder. When a very outraged Quigley asks Biederman why the heck he gave a kid the money, Biederman says that he thought that Preston had been sent because being a kid the cops wouldn't notice him walking away with all that money, an answer Quigley roars back at with (paraphrased) "I wouldn't do that! What made you think I would?!"
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: Preston's computer has a voice synthesizer, which he uses to purchase the castle without giving himself away as a kid.
  • Terrible Trio: Quigley, Biederman, and Juice.
  • The Unfavorite: It's clear that Preston is this.
  • Unknowingly Possessing Stolen Goods: Preston gets a blank check from Quigley after accidentally ran over his bike. Preston uses the check to get a million dollars, unaware that the money was stolen by Quigley.
  • The Unseen: In-Universe: No one has seen Mr. Macintosh in person. There's a very good reason for that: he doesn't actually exist.
  • Vanity License Plate: The limousine Preston rents for his shopping spree has "EZ LIFE" as a license plate.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The main antagonist Quigley escapes from prison and takes out a suitcase full of one million dollars he hid in an abandoned warehouse before he got arrested.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Preston, which is strange considering his dad is a complete jerkass.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The criminals have no qualms about kidnapping or violent revenge against Preston for taking their money.


Blank Check

Preston gets some stuff for his mansion.

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Main / ShoppingMontage

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