Pinching Penny (2011) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Pinching Penny is a low-budget film that looks and plays like a student project. The beginning of the movie is somewhat light hearted and whimsical in its absurdity. Two best friends, Alex and Murphy, a Brit and a Scot respectively, find themselves in the midwest of the United States with no money. Alex has a shopping addiction and so the two decide to rob some houses to get some cash. Their first attempt ends in disaster, and the second no better when they burst in on Teddi, a seductive female who sets her eyes on Murphy. She assumes control of the two and leads them into a life of crime. She gets Alex, who never touches drugs, a job giving clean urine to a group of radical drug dealers run by The King and The Queen. They trio also take a girl, Penny (hence the title), hostage and try to extort money from her parents for her safe return. Soon all these tangled webs trip them up and when the cops get involved, Alex and Murphy’s troubles get far too serious.

The ending is much darker than the beginning and as it progresses into darkness it turns into another movie altogether. The switch-up from just getting into a little trouble for some cash to buy stuff and getting in way over their heads is too unbelievable. Alex is absolutely out of his mind and Murphy is too happily sidetracked by Teddi to notice. Unfortunately there’s nothing about any of these people that is likable. We don’t even see enough of Alex’s consumerism issues to feel sorry for him, and when we do finally get to see his stash of goods it looks more like he’s hit up the local dump than any stores or pawn shops. It’s strange that someone would hoard things to this extent and then never visit or even seem to care about them.

Had Pinching Penny known what it wanted to be rather than meandering through the lives of two losers from normality to stupidity, it would have been a better film. Dan Glaser directs competently and the acting is fine. It’s simply the storyline that feels unnatural, at times forced and almost always boring. I wanted to explore these characters and their relationships more than simply what they were getting into. Just because someone has a motivation to do something in a movie doesn’t make it good, especially if it isn’t used for any other purpose. The cover of the DVD has a quote that purports this to be in the vein of Fargo and Snatch. I guess any movie with some blood and cockney accents could also make that claim. Pass on this one.

Director: Dan Glaser
Stars: Steven Molony, Timothy J. Meyer, Ginny Glaser

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