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By Don R. Lewis | April 7, 2006

When Nicole Holofcener’s “Friends With Money” started out, I was hoping it would be a kind of “Rules of the Game” for the new millennium. There’s nothing better than exposing the rich and all their surface values, especially for all us poor folk. But since she wrote and directed it, Holofcener can do what she wants. However the film doesn’t really do much more than meander around and I’m not sure what the film is trying to say. Olivia, played by Jennifer Anniston in full on grungy “The Good Girl” mode, has alot of really rich friends. So rich that one couple stresses over trying to figure out how to donate two million dollars to avoid the taxes on it. But Olivia is a stoner who cleans houses for a living. Why she has all these uber-rich friends is never explained. She seems nice enough, but her conversational skills are minimal and her ambition in life nonexistent. Hey, we’ve all got friends like that, but we keep them around to remind us what could happen if we get lazy. Although “Friends With Money” seems to be about Olivia, we spend equal amounts of time with her monied friends. The titled friends with money include Catherine Keener and Jason Isaacs as a constantly bickering pair of screenwriters, Frances McDormand and Simon McBurney as polar opposites who manage to work well together and Joan Cusack and Greg Germann as, well, rich people. All the couples have funny, idiosyncratic components to them but so what? What is this movie about? Is it that rich people may have a ton of cash but their lives are tough too? Is it that money doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy? Both of those themes work but they’re clearly cliche and not terribly insightful. “Friends With Money” is entertaining and highly watchable but in the end, it just feels trite. All the performances are as great as one would expect from such a stellar cast but I wish the film were more nuanced and focused.

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