Year 8, Day 145 - 5/24/16 - Movie #2,344
BEFORE: Halfway through the 5-film Liam Neeson chain, and I'm not even sure what to call this film - it's listed on the IMDB as "Ruby Cairo", but the poster says "Deception", and I think it aired on cable under the latter name. But, there's another film titled "Deception", with Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor, maybe they changed the title of this film after the fact to avoid confusion? Or maybe it's a deception of its own, who knows?
Some people in show business say you can't have two films with the same title, but doesn't it happen all the time? There was a movie titled "Bad Boys" with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, and another "Bad Boys" that starred Sean Penn. There was a comedy titled "Black Sheep" with David Spade and Chris Farley, and also a horror film with the same title about bloodthirsty sheep. "Kicking and Screaming" was the title of a Will Ferrell comedy and also an indie drama, there were even two crime thrillers titled "Bad Company", released just 7 years apart. And let's not forget the two films titled "The Illusionist", both about magicians, one animated and one live-action. "Wanted", "Glory", "Betrayed", "Delirious", and other one-word titles have been repeated over the years as well. I've even got two different films named "Flawless" as part of the countdown.
The simple fact is, you can't copyright the title of a work. If I wanted to make a documentary about people chasing tornados and title it "Gone With the Wind", I'd be within my rights. I just probably couldn't make a Civil War drama with that name. So why do movie companies spend so much money on title searches, or make them mandatory for contracts, when they don't matter?
THE PLOT: After her businessman husband dies suspiciously in a Mexican plane crash, his widow begins to investigate his labyrinthine financial dealings, not all of which are legal.
AFTER: May's been a tough month for movie spouses - there was that guy's wife in "American Gigolo", the dead wife in "The Equalizer", and the man who killed his wife (umm, I think?) in "Lost Highway". Tonight I'm presented with a dead husband, so that's at least a bit of a change-up. And the baseball pun is intended, because this movie is somehow about baseball cards leading to a fortune, but not in the usual way.
After her husband is declared dead in Mexico, and someone mails her a body part, Elizabeth Faro (whose husband called her "Ruby Cairo" for some unexplained reason...) travels to Mexico and immediately seeks out her husbands missing baseball cards (after selling most of the collection at a yard sale, very disrepectful to a collector. Hasn't she heard about eBay?). The baseball cards are a clue to where he kept his money in banks around the world, though I'm a bit suspicious of her interpreting his "secret" code.
For that matter, the whole plot doesn't really add up - she decides to build a better life for her kids, by leaving them alone while she jets around the world? OK, to get the money, sure, but wouldn't her kids' lives be better with her in them? And then when she has found and withdrawn more than enough money for one lifetime, she gets upset when the last few secret accounts are empty? Jeez, how much money that she didn't earn does she need?
In her travels, she meets a former oil executive who now works tirelessly to bring grain from the U.S. to poor countries - and she stumbles on what might be a smuggling ring inside his operation, but might also be tied to her husband's strange missing money? It's all very unclear, and nothing really gets explained properly. How shady is the food relief organization? Is it OK to smuggle other things with the food, if starving people are being fed, or is that not morally correct? There don't seem to be any consequences from exposing it, so it's somehow legit?
Since the husband owned a "successful" air transport company that was somehow also deeply in debt, I'm sort of reminded of a story that broke in the news last week, which was about the chef/owner of NYC's first upscale Vegan restaurant, which, in these trendy times, seems like a good gig, like having a license to print money. (Google "Sarma Melngailis" for the whole story, I'm just going to sum it up here.) After splitting with her boyfriend/co-owner, she got married to this shady guy, and started to come up short with the payroll at the restaurant, which led to an employee walkout. Seems that the new husband had a lot of gambling debts, and they were using restaurant money to cover them. After giving the employees a number of lame excuses, like "we're switching banks, the money needs to clear" some staff came back and the restaurant re-opened, but a few months later, they were short on the payroll again. This time the couple was living high on the hog at a number of casinos in Las Vegas and Connecticut, blowing six figures at a time. Another employee walkout, and this time the restaurant closed for good, and the missing owners were found hiding in Tennessee, tracked down by a wayward order from Domino's pizza (which is not vegan, last time I checked).
A much better (and more legal) scam would seem to be to get a movie studio to finance your film, so you can travel the world on someone else's dime. Which is my way of saying that nothing really adds up to anything in this plot, it just seems like some director wanted to take trips to a lot of different countries, with the movie studio paying for it. Mexico, Germany, Greece, Egypt - there's no rhyme or reason to it, unless the actors also wanted to see those parts of the world.
Wikipedia says that this film was titled "Ruby Cairo" first, then re-edited and re-released as "Deception" with an additional 21 minutes - I wonder if those 21 minutes explained anything from the original film...
Also starring Andie MacDowell (last seen in "St. Elmo's Fire"), Viggo Mortensen (last seen in "A Perfect Murder"), Jack Thompson (last seen in "Original Sin"), Luis Cortes, Alberto Estrella, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Lucy Rodriguez, with a cameo from Jeff Corey (last seen in "Bird on a Wire")
RATING: 3 out of 10 cashier's checks