All the Money in the World

Still can’t buy a soul

A nd I thought Christopher Plummer already played Ebenezer Scrooge this winter. After emerging from this picture, you might honestly ask yourself, “Who is worse? Between the fictional Scrooge and the real life John Paul Getty, who is the greedier, more self-centered bastard, the personification of avarice in human form?” And you might just decide the answer is J. Paul Getty. After all, somewhere within Scrooge was the capacity for good; doubtful the same applies to Getty. Don’t worry, fellow Americans; it’s possible that Getty’s insane greed only applies to 80% or so of his peers – those being the ultra-wealthy and lion’s-share recipients of the tax cut congress approved last month. It’s entirely possible that modern American Gettys will use this completely unneeded boon to raise salaries and create jobs. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Suckers!

Technically, this film isn’t about J. Paul Getty (Plummer), but instead about his grandson, Jean Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer). Wait a minute. Seriously? Charlie Plummer plays Christopher Plummer’s grandson? Is this a joke? Are the two related? My research says, “no.” And yet, I am baffled by the casting. The original J. Paul Getty selected was Kevin Spacey, replaced after shooting by Plummer. Was the original JPG III a Spacey? If not, was J. Paul Getty recast based on the “Plummer” surname? I mean, that can’t be coincidence, can it? Geez, good thing the kid wasn’t named “Stallone” or “Atkinson.” Mr. Bean is J. Paul Getty.

In 1973, the teenage JPG III was kidnapped in Rome and held for ransom. The preface to this news is that J. Paul Getty wasn’t only the wealthiest man in the world; he was the wealthiest man in the history of the world. The kidnappers naturally assumed gramps would do anything to get his namesake back include forking out some pocket change. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Suckers!  As per the film, the news that his grandson was kidnapped didn’t even cause old man Getty to turn his attention from the ticker tape. When asked by reporters how much he would pay to retrieve his flesh and blood, Getty famously announces on camera, “Nothing.” This move is seen as possibly shrewd; after all, Getty can’t give public encouragement to kidnappers. Behind the scenes, however, we realize he doesn’t want to spend a single dime to get the boy back. In fact, there simply doesn’t exist a wealth threshold that would make Getty the least bit magnanimous … or even human.

The one person dead set on getting JPG III back is his mother, Abigail (Michelle Williams); she and Getty’s lackey, Fletcher Chase (Marky Mark), battle over strategy, the biggest problem being there is no money backing their plans. Chase has Getty’s ear, but not his purse strings; Abigail deliberately forfeit all right to Getty money when she divorced JPG II two years previous. Hence, the effort to retrieve JPG III is never bankrolled. We are thankfully spared the standard “mother breakdown” scene – Michelle has dual purpose here as active parent and audience conscience and plays it relatively tough throughout —  yet, while we’re spared the worst of parental frustration, we are not spared the consequences of kidnapper frustration.

All the Money in the World has been released at a point in time where there is now a record amount of disparity between the ultra-rich and the middle class in the United States. The disparity has just been (or perhaps more correctly, will be) exacerbated by a tax cut that heavily favors the ultra-rich. Hence, this movie couldn’t possibly be more relevant. Every time Christopher Plummer is on screen, Ridley Scott screams at us: “THIS IS WHAT WEALTH DOES TO PEOPLE!” Getty is a monster, but he’s also a symbol; he’s interchangeable with any other member of the 1% elite. Nowhere is this easier to see than with how seamlessly Kevin Spacey was replaced in the lead role (one greedy old white guy looks just like any other). However, for a story so relevant, I see no traction. This is a quality film with little audience, and will likely get lost in the Oscar scramble. It won’t be the first film positioned for an award and receiving little more than a forgettable nomination – and it certainly won’t be the last – but it would have been served better to arrive at theaters when there was less competition. This is a politically motivated impact film that, thanks to release date, won’t impact a single mind.

♪I never met a fish who makes me see dollar lira signs the way that you do
(You’re a sight)
Whenever I ponder a slick payday, you know I see you
(Wearing white)
Say fee fi fo fum
Take that kid, demand ransom
And I’m a ready for abduction, so get Getty
So get Getty; here he comes♫

Rated R, 132 Minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: David Scarpa
Genre: Shaming THE MAN
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Getty adversaries
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: J. Paul Getty

♪ Parody Inspired by “Get Ready”

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