FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! The first few minutes of Baby Money, much like the prologue of Speed (the elevator sequence), could be its own film. The very pregnant Minny (Danay Garcia) is the getaway driver for a break-in at an affluent house. However, her boyfriend, Gil (Michael Drayer), and his unhinged partner, Dom (Joey Kern), find trouble when the family living there wakes up. One might presume that the tension comes from them trying to escape with their wares unnoticed, which is a logical conclusion to go to.
However, directors Luc Walpoth and Mikhael Bassilli, who co-wrote the thriller with MJ Palo, have something more on their mind than that and carefully execute the taut storyline with an assured hand, though they do fall into some traps along the way. See, after the family wakes up, one thing leads to another, and the elders are shot dead, while Dom is injured, just not fatally. After hearing the first gunshot, Minny drives off without the others. The robbers escape the house easily and break into a nearby home, which is empty.
But, the owner, nurse and single mother, Heidi (Taja V. Simpson), and her son Chris (Vernon Taylor III) return home in short order. Now, Minny must track down a new car, deduce how to get around the parade of cops in the neighborhood, and rescue her significant other and get the cash that will set her up for a new life. All the while, Gil must control the untamable Dom, as he is chomping at the bit to take out the innocent nurse and child.
“…Minny must track down a new car…get around the parade of cops…and rescue her significant other…”
While Baby Money is full of greatness, it is home to a handful of faults. For starters, there is not enough set up for how downtrodden Minny and Gil’s lives are for the extreme nature of this break-in job to fully sink in. The film runs some 92 or 93 minutes long, credits included. A brief prologue, just a scene or two lasting a few minutes, in which we witness them forgo one necessity in favor of another or being evicted, or anything like that, would help set the stage and make their plight more believable and understandable to the audience. As it stands, the character motivations still work but are not fully felt until much later than need be.
The other big issue is Vernon Taylor III as Chris. Both the character and the actor have cerebral palsy, which plays a large in the story. That isn’t the issue, though. The dialogue constantly refers to Chris as “kid,” “child,” and other such terms indicating that the character is (presumably) in his early teen years, at best. However, the actor appears to be 35, at the absolute youngest.
In the first scene with Chris, Heidi has to pick him up as his father failed to show, I was honestly confused. Their conversation is all about whether or not his dad called and what happened. But looking at him, he is clearly a man, thus creating an odd disconnect between the dialogue versus what is being shown. This lasts the entire runtime and dulls the severity of several moments throughout, as Dom is never as maniacal as intended because he’s only ever threatening adults (again, based on how it LOOKS).
"…the first few minutes...much like the prologue of Speed, could be its own film"