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Film / Easy Money

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A 1983 comedy film directed by James Signorelli and starring Rodney Dangerfield.

Monty Capuletti (Dangerfield) is a Staten Island baby photographer with a supportive wife, Rose (Candice Azzara), but a tight-fisted, super-rich mother-in-law, Mrs. Monahan (Geraldine Fitzgerald), who despises his bevy of vices including drinking, smoking, eating junk food, gambling, and some socially acceptable drugs. Not too long after his daughter's wedding—for which Monty and best friend Nicky (Joe Pesci) destroy the cake with their drunk driving—Mrs. Monahan dies in a plane crash. Her will states that Monty will inherit the family's $10 million department store empire, On One Condition: that he go a year without indulging in his bad habits.

A subplot involves Marty's virginal daughter Allison's (Jennifer Jason Leigh) marriage to Julio (Taylor Negron), which is disrupted by her unwillingness to have sex; she's especially offended when Julio produces an illustrated book of sex positions to help educate her. Julio spends a few episodes of doing a very bad job trying to talk to his wife, after she moves back in with dad and refuses to speak to Julio.

Meanwhile, Monty's cousin-in-law Clive (Jeffrey Jones) naturally wants Monty to fail, because then Clive will get everything, but he doesn't really seem to do much other than tricking Monty into designing a line of "regular guy" clothes which get him laughed at a lot. This humiliation, combined with the seeming abandonment of his friends—engineered by Clive, who convinced them they were a bad influence—drives Monty to give up, but just as he's headed out to get drunk, he runs into Julio, who accidentally shoots Monty in the butt—hospitalizing him long enough for the year to pass and the inheritance to be his.

The year up, Monty and family celebrate on a yacht (where Julio tries to hide from Allison, who has reconciled with him and become insatiable in her sexual demands). The lawyer shows up, seemingly to finalize the inheritance, but turns out to be accompanied by Mrs. Monahan, having faked her own death to trick Monty into flying right. In the end, they all live together in a mansion, where Monty seems to have turned around to fully agreeing with his mother-in-law's views—but then he sneaks off to join Nicky and his friends for pizza, poker and beer.

This film provides examples of:

  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Julio's much shorter cousin accompanies him in his efforts to win back Allison.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: Monty mentions that his wife got drunk to loosen up for sex on their honeymoon.
  • Faking the Dead: Mrs. Monahan turns out to be pulling this trope as part of a con to force Monty to live a clean life.
  • Mean Boss: The late Mr. Monahan was one, and his widow follows his example.
    Mrs. Monahan: (nostalgically) When your father was alive, he ran Monahan's like a tyrant. He paid the help next to nothing. He drove them like sled dogs.
  • Meaningful Name: The surnames of the families — Capuletti and Monahan — allude to the feuding families of Romeo and Juliet, the Capulets and the Montagues (thrown in with the fact that Capuletti is an Italian-sounding name, while Monahan is Irish, suggesting a bonus Culture Clash).
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: On the one hand, Monty is a huge rube. On the other, Mrs. Monahan is mentioned to have been a tyrant to family and employee alike when she is (allegedly) dead and the whole plot of the film revolves around her performing a very elaborate piece of financial abuse to Monty.
  • On One Condition: Mrs. Monahan imposed one for her son-in-law to inherit her business.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Clive only inherits $5,000 a month for the rest of his life and is taken aback, asking if the lawyer is sure there aren't any additional zeroes in that amount.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Monty changes his lifestyle to live clean (by Mrs. Monahan's standards) and keeps doing so with the threat of the inheritance dangling over his headů but the epilogue shows that Monty decided to keep his loutish lifestyle, just in secret.
    Monty: My mother in law! For years, I wouldn't kiss her face. I ended up kissin' her ass!
  • Shot in the Ass: Just when Monty has given up on his effort to quit drinking/smoking/carousing (in order to inherit ten million dollars), his daughter's estranged husband shows up with a gun, and this happens — putting Monty in the hospital and saving the inheritance.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Monty is the slob in this equation, a loutish jackass (and proud of it), while his Obnoxious In-Laws (with Mrs. Monahan at they reins) are the "snobs". The film ends with the snobs winning, if only because Monty has been forced to literally go underground with his loutish lifestyle.
  • Time-Compression Montage: While Monty is recovering from his bullet wound, enough time passes for him to win the estate.
  • Title Drop: Some of Monty's friends assure him of his chances using the phrase