Written by Academy Award nominees Alec Sokolow and Joel Cohen (Toy Story),
Money Talks is a non-stop, action-adventure film fueled by comedy. "We
started writing with the premise of what would happen if Americaís
most wanted criminal was harbored by a Geraldo Rivera-type reporter on the
weekend of the reporterís wedding," explains Sokolow.
When they were finished, they knew they had created a break-out role for
a young comedian. "At that time, we didnít know who it would
be. Now, I can't imagine anyone else playing the lead role of Franklin Hatchett.
It seems as though we wrote this exclusively for Chris Tucker's talents."
Tucker first garnered critical attention with his scene-stealing performance
as Smokey in the urban comedy Friday. Then, without missing a beat, he showed
his range of talent when he turned to drama for his role as a heroin-addicted
Vietnam War veteran in Dead Presidents.
The 24-year-old actor was most recently seen starring opposite Bruce Willis
in director Luc Bessonís The Fifth Element, which headlined the opening
night festivities at the 50th Annual Cannes Film Festival in May. With two
high-profile summer films, Tucker is truly a star on the rise.
In Money Talks, Tucker plays Franklin Hatchett, a two-bit hustler who has
spent his entire life surviving on street smarts, wit and gut instinct.
Chameleon-like in his ability to adapt to any situation, Franklin is smoothly
comfortable and confident -- whether he is conning high society while quoting
Barry White, pawning "Phantom of the Opera" tickets to an unsuspecting
sports fan, or making a deadly enemy by mimicking a scene from Scarface.
Ultimately, his unscrupulous business practices attract the attention of
James Russell (Sheen), an image-conscious television reporter who has targeted
Franklin for a less-than-hard-hitting exposÈ on ticket scalping.
After setting up Franklin for arrest, James thinks he is honeymoon-bound
with his fiancÈe; however, he soon finds himself blowing the lid
off of an international diamond smuggling scheme involving high finance
"In the `70s, we had Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. In the `80s, it
was Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte. For the `90s, itís going to be Charlie
Sheen and Chris Tucker," says director Brett Ratner, who makes his
feature debut with Money Talks. "This is not just lucky casting, it
takes talent, comic timing, chemistry and top-notch material to launch an
on-screen duo that audiences will remember. I think moviegoers will identify
with these guys and want to see more of them.
"James and Franklin are classic fish out of water," Ratner explains.
"Neither is in his own environment, and each needs the other to survive."
Following a highly successful career directing music videos, Ratner knew
Money Talks was the perfect project to help him make the transition to film.
"The excitement and pace of the project hooked me. We played up the
comedic elements of the script," says Ratner. "And we have a one-two
punch because we also deliver in the action department. But the special
effects are not over the top. We took our cue from movies of the `80s and
early `90s, where the action stunts were done by real stuntmen, not computers.
There are no blue screens here. The audience will see professionals doing
what they do best -- crashing cards and blowing up buildings.
"Brett understood the script and the genre. He has a knowledge of film
equal to that of far more experienced directors," says producer Walter
Coblenz. A Hollywood veteran, Coblenz has been responsible for such films
as All The Presidentís Men and The Candidate. "Brett really
knows his stuff. He delivered a fast-paced film with a lot of action. This
film also shows his intuitive feel for comedic timing -- it will shoot him
and Chris straight to the top."
Itís no secret that Hollywood showers its greatest rewards on those
who succeed in the action genre -- where the name of the director is sometimes
just as important as the name of the star on the marquis. For Ratner and
Tucker, Money Talks represented a vote of faith that each was capable of
breaking into this exclusive territory previously dominated by names like
Willis, McTiernan, Harlan, Stallone, DeBont and Schwarzenegger.
"Iíve always been a big fan of action-comedy," says Tucker.
"I was inspired by buddy movies like Midnight Run and 48 Hrs. Eddie
Murphy is my idol. He took action-comedy to another level and thatís
what I want to do for my generation.
According to co-star Charlie Sheen, Tucker is more than capable of leading
the action-comedy genre to a new level. "The quickest way to watch
the most confident people crumble is to put a camera in front of them. But
Chris is free of inhibitions. He loves what heís doing, and he is
absolutely fearless in front of the camera. Iíve been acting for
a long time, and I can say unequivocally that Chris Tucker has been a great
teacher for me.
Responds Tucker, "Charlie and I have learned from each other, and I
think we have a great on-screen chemistry." Their camaraderie is most
apparent during a scene when James brings Franklin to a stuffy pre-wedding
soiree at the home of his future father-in-law. To "blend in,"
Franklin spins a new identity for himself as Vic Damone, Jr., and James
is forced to join the charade and perpetuate the deceit.
The cast and crew zigzagged across the Los Angeles area shooting 18 different
locations as visual backdrop for Money Talks. To capture the contrast between
James and Franklinís worlds, the filmmakers used a wide variety of
Los Angeles icons, such as a palatial mansion in Beverly Hills; a Silverlake
car wash where Franklin conducts "business; the Los Angeles Coliseum,
which serves as the flash point for the explosive finale; and the Pantages
Theater in Hollywood, which was converted into a swank art deco auction
hall where Tucker plays a hilarious scene with Sorvinoís character,
who is in search of the perfect wedding gift for his beloved daughter.
Other notable locales include Terminal Island, the KCAL Newsroom, Lincoln
Heights Jail and The Frontier Hotel on 5th Street, where the lead characters
hop-scotch across rooftops as they leap from one building to the next.