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Imagine if you were a young kid with a blank check in your possession. What amount would you fill it out for? What would you buy with the money? That’s pretty much the premise of Blank Check, a 1994 Disney film directed by Rupert Wainwright. Is it worth “checking” out (see what I did there?)? Read on to find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The protagonist of the film is a young eleven-year-old boy named Preston Waters, played by Brian Bonsall. He feels deprived at home due to having to share his room with his two older brothers as well as not being as rich as some of his friends. He would do anything to have his own house and live by his own rules.
One day, he receives an early birthday gift in the mail from his grandmother, a blank check which his father, played by James Rebhorn, fills in for $11. Preston uses their new Macintosh computer to figure out how long it’ll take for that to compound into a million dollars.
The next day, he goes to the bank to open an account and deposit the check. He’s instantly smitten with one of the bank tellers, Shay Stanley, played by Karen Duffy. Shay treats him sweetly and gently lets him down by informing him that the bank requires a minimum of $200 deposit in order to open an account.
As he leaves dejectedly on his bike, he gets into an accident when a car backs into it. He’s fine, thankfully, but his bike is crushed. The driver of the car is Carl Quigley, an escaped convict, played by the late Miguel Ferrer. Quigley has a stash of $1 million that he stole prior to going to jail and has gone to the bank to get his bank president accomplice, Mr. Biderman, played by Michael Lerner, to exchange the money for unmarked bills. He will send one of his guys the next day to pick the money up, so he’s in a hurry to leave and now with cops nearby due to this bike situation, Quigley wants to leave even quicker! He hands Preston a blank check and speedily flees the scene.
Preston takes the check home and uses his Macintosh computer to make it out for $1,000,000 which he takes to the bank the next day. Shay isn’t there, but another bank teller thinks this is some type of joke and takes Preston to Mr. Biderman. Mr. Biderman sends the teller out and assumes that Preston is the person Quigley was going to send and gives Preston $1 million in cash, much to Preston’s delight! Preston fills his backpack with the money and leaves ecstatically!
Unfortunately for Mr. Biderman, in walks Quigley’s real man, Juice, played by Tone Lōc. When Mr. Biderman realizes his mistake, he’s terrified as are Juice and Quigley when they find out. Quigley soon realizes who the boy was and goes out with Mr. Biderman and Juice to scour the city looking for Preston.
Meanwhile, Preston has started spending his money lavishly! He purchases a huge castle-like house and has it modified to include a virtual reality gaming room, a go-kart track, and a slide from the second story of the house to the pool below, among other accessories. He’s also hired a chauffeur named Henry, played by Rick Ducommun, and he does all this under the guise of working for a mysterious man named “Mr. Macintosh”.
We also discover that Shay is an FBI agent who was placed in the bank due to money laundering suspicions involving Mr. Biderman. She has soon linked this to Mr. Macintosh as well and after discovering that Preston works for Mr. Macintosh, she tries to get Preston to set up a meeting between her and his elusive boss. Preston tries to prolong that meeting as much as he possibly can while taking Shay on multiple “dates” in the meanwhile.
It’s not long before Preston’s birthday arrives and he plans a massive birthday party for himself at the castle house under the guise of Mr. Macintosh’s birthday. He invites all the bigwigs that he can, but he soon realizes that all those people are only there for Mr. Macintosh’s money and not because they’re true friends of his. He realizes that all this money hasn’t bought him any real friends besides Shay and Henry and that the $1 million has almost run dry.
At the night of the party, Preston announces to the crowd that Mr. Macintosh is gone and is not coming back. Everyone gets upset and leaves, but Quigley, Mr. Biderman, and Juice have entered the scene and try to capture Preston. Preston evades them in a climax utilizing his rich accessories including his go-kart and pitching machine. Fortunately, Shay and the FBI arrive in time to arrest the trio. Quigley, for some reason or another, confesses to being “Mr. Macintosh”, sparing Preston the embarrassment of confessing that he’s actually Mr. Macintosh.
Shay and Preston part ways and Preston goes back home to his family who have a birthday cake for him. He realizes he has all he can ever want, with the exception of his crush, Shay, and uses his birthday wish for her.
And that was Blank Check! Now I didn’t really wanna talk about this, but it seems inevitable that I address the elephant in the room. This film has gained some notoriety and infamy lately due to a controversial scene. After the climax, before Shay and Preston part ways, she kisses him goodbye on the lips. Due to this, there has been considerable backlash from people disgusted and offended by this scene saying it’s Disney promoting pedophilia with an adult woman kissing a young boy on the lips. Others argue that people are looking too deeply into this scene and that it was meant to be something sweet and probably more palatable in 1994 compared to today’s times. Whatever side you’re on, I’ll just say that I think this film isn’t good enough to be remembered and this whole controversy is giving way too much attention to a film that I think is best forgotten!
The premise of the film isn’t a bad one and I can imagine many kids who grew up with this film liking it as they can relate to wanting to spend $1 million on anything and everything they want. But I just feel the film doesn’t hit its mark and seems a bit too stupid at times. I feel the tone of the movie tries to balance the lightheartedness with seriousness and it just fails at that.
That’s not to say everything is bad about it; I’m really impressed with Brian Bonsall’s acting! It’s honestly one of the best acting I’ve seen from a kid in a long time! Miguel Ferrer and Michael Lerner give great performances as well! But otherwise, I don’t think the film is good enough to be remembered and if you haven’t seen it yet, you don’t really need to.
So, my final score for this film is 19/35 = 54.29% (F) !
The next review will be posted on April 28, 2020.
2 thoughts on “Blank Check (1994)”
Funny, I just watched this for the first time the other day. It was cute in parts but I gotta be honest, the whole thing with Preston and Shay is just creepy. It wasn’t just the kiss, though I’m not sure how anything thinks that’s okay… but their whole “relationship,” going on dates, running through a fountain holding hands together. I dunno, it just felt weird and overshadowed most of the movie for me!
This was the first time I saw the film too. You’re definitely not alone on your thoughts about their relationship. Ignoring the kiss for a second, I didn’t really feel “weird” about their going on dates, etc. I feel it was meant to be innocent, but due to the times we live in now, it definitely can seem not.