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Some Guy Says You Get Power With Money.
by Jon Schuller

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Get rich quick. Get rich slow. Maybe, not at all. The classic American Dream sequence says that everyone who comes here, or lives here, will have a better life. That is true over time. Many places in the world are dangerous and deadly. No one who stays in such locations survives without damages: especially innocent children. My own father was brought to America as a young child; he thrived and prospered. He built a family. Many immigrants became wealthy and built businesses, plus legacies. Their families did well. The target to shoot for in today's world is no different than it's ever been. I enjoy films that show people in trouble defying the odds and becoming triumphant.

In March, 2007, The Lookout premiered, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Isla Fisher and Bruce McGill; written and directed by Scott Frank. It introduces us to a Kansas City star high school athlete, Chris Pratt, who caused a horrible automobile accident in which 2 people are killed while Chris and his girlfriend, Kelly (Laura Vandervoort), survive. She is badly hurt and now, four years later, Chris suffers from "anterograde amnesia" from which he cannot create new memories; he has to make notes and goes to classes for anger management and daily skills help. His case manager, Janet
(Carla Gugino), is relentlessly hard on Chris so he can cope and hopefully learn. His roommate, Lewis (Daniels) is blind but always supportive and understanding despite his own difficulties. Chris holds down a basic janitorial night job at a bank; he gets nightly visits (and check-ins) with donuts from the slightly forgetful deputy sheriff, Ted (Sergio Di Zio). Mr Tuttle (David Huband), the bank's manager, has to tell Chris many times over that Chris isn't ready to get into a teller training program, despite constant encouragement from the head teller, Mrs. Lange (Alex Borstein). Chris' wealthy parents, Robert Pratt (McGill) and Barbara Pratt (Alberta Watson), only give him enough money to live on; Chris' visits to their mansion are few and far between.

Chris is obviously vulnerable and has moments in which he wrestles with his daily routine and the apparitions in his mind that bring back scenes from the accident and imaginary visions of Kelly walking around and talking to him. He makes trips out to the highway where the accident happened. One night he is approached in a local bar by someone who says his name is Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) as he reminds Chris they went to the same high school and Gary watched him play game-winning hockey. Chris doesn't remember Gary but allows
himself to be won over and, later, is seduced by a beautiful girl, Luvlee Lemons (Fisher), who also extols everything Chris used to be before the tragic car wreck -especially his physical prowess. They make love and he begins to believe what Gary keeps telling him: Chris is better than his present circumstances and he won't need reluctant hand-outs from his father and rejections from the bank manager when the gang gets a lot of money soon. They are going to rob the bank where he works and he will be the lookout. Chris's anger problems begin to manifest themselves when he starts yelling and berating his best friends, Lewis and Ted, for holding him back.

On the night of the robbery Chris tells Gary he can't go through with it. Gary says it's too late and threatens to kill him. Chris must watch and help them carry the money out of the hole in the vault into their waiting station wagon. Ted, on his nightly visit, realizes there's a robbery in progress and, uncharacteristically, shows what a good cop (and excellent shot) he is. He shoots 2 of the robbers, Marty and Cork, but is himself shot and killed in the confrontation. Chris runs out and steals the car, loaded with two large bags of stolen money. His new skills at sequencing are put to use as he plans to kill Gary and the
scariest, silent member of gang, Bone (Greg Dunham) using one his dad's expensive shotguns. He goes out to the highway, the scene of the accident, and buries the money bags. One of them has the shotgun.

Chris goes back to his apartment only to find Lewis held prisoner by a wounded Gary and Bone. They force him and Lewis into the car and drive out to where the money is buried. Chris had made notes to remember what to do and, as Bone threatens to kill Lewis, he grabs the shotgun and shoots Bone. Gary, bleeding to death on the road, dies. Chris and Lewis leave with the money intact.
They turn the money into the police as the FBI and local cops investigate the robbery. They conclude Chris's condition couldn't allow him to rob the bank and videos from bank show the gang threatening him. Chris and Lewis, who'd planned to buy an old gas station and convert it into a restaurant, get a loan from the bank. Chris' visions of seeing Kelly again come true as we see her walking on a prosthetic leg, Chris hoping she'll forgive him.

I've revisited this movie because it's so enjoyable and worth watching more than once. This is a first for me since starting this column in February, 2010. But once in a while I see a picture and it has that sort of effect on me. Can't hurt and, boy, it's fun to watch it again.

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.


Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

Another Great Year for Movies

Homage: Respect or Reverence Paid

There's a Call for You. Please Tell Them to Wait.

20 Before. 20 After. 20 Since.

Sit. Relax. Watch. Enjoy. Repeat.

All Columns


Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 29 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).



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