Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Money Plane.”
The Movie: “Money Plane”
Starring: Adam Copeland, Kelsey Grammer, Thomas Jane
Director: Andrew Lawrence
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A professional thief with $40 million in debt and his family’s life on the line must commit one final heist – rob a futuristic airborne casino filled with the world’s most dangerous criminals.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 25 percent
Brown: I don’t know if I could have found a more perfect JOE-DOWN movie than “Money Plane.”
Released to video-on-demand in early July, “Money Plane” has already gained a reputation… more of a notoriety, actually, for being delightfully bad. The Ringer has not one, not two, but three articles on this baffling movie. “How Did This Get Made” has also done a review of this movie, which features a WWE Hall of Famer, Frasier Crane, Joey Russo AND The Punisher. All we need is John Travolta, John Carpenter or a member of “Saved By the Bell” (to really pique Froemming’s interest) and we’d have a JOE-DOWN Bingo.
After watching this movie, it’s as good as a movie with the title “Money Plane” should be, just like a sequel to “Birdemic” is about what you’d expect.
Is that good or bad? We’ll get into it.
Froemming, as I build the head canon on how Frasier Crane went from drunk at Cheers to crime boss, give us your initial take.
Froemming: Well, a few years ago, you introduced me to one of the best heist movies ever with “Heat,” and now you have bookended that with one of the worst.
I had never heard of “Money Plane,” which is not connected at all to “Money Train,” and after watching it, I wish I still hadn’t. This has all the qualities and production of an early ’90s USA Channel made-for-TV movie. Down to the D-List celebrities and cheap cameras used. I honestly think “Birdemic 2” might have had higher quality footage.
But what this does have is WWE Superstar Edge with a manbun throughout the whole damn movie. He is a vape pen away from looking like he is going to serve you a latte at some fancy artisan coffee shop. And for most of it, he really doesn’t beat anyone up for some reason.
Brown, as I put down bets on this guy (REDACTED) an alligator, why don’t you kick this off?
Brown: So we open the movie on an art museum that is ABSOLUTELY not a museum of any kind. We don’t get a sense of location, just a screen that says “Art Museum” in what looks like a harbor warehouse from the outside.
Froemming: Hey, Art Museum is the host of the famous charity “Sports for Kids” from “No Holds Barred!”
Brown: As we get a voiceover over the things he’s learned as a professional thief, Jack Reese (Copeland) is trying to con his way into this art museum that has the interior and charm of a vet clinic’s reception area.
See, Jack is here to steal a painting, only the painting is not here. Well, the painting shows up in the surveillance van they have but it’s not actually in the room.
They’ve been set up!
Froemming: And it was here I knew immediately, given the production of the movie, that it was the man who sings this infamous song who did it!
Tossed salad and scrambled eggs indeed.
Brown: I was already laughing at how nonsensical this part was. Jack is rescued in no small part by one of his partners, Isabella, as she subdues some guards. There’s also smoke bombs that have gone off that helped incapacitate armed guards but do ABSOLUTELY nothing to Jack and Isabella. Then when they hop in the van to get away, the armed guards fire, what, two rounds at the van? There was no urgency anywhere in what is supposed to be a high-risk robbery.
Froemming: No, these hired goons were shooting machine guns at — and somehow missing — a 6′ 5″ hulk of a man! They have worse aim than a Storm Trooper.
Brown: Well, the group has to break the bad news to the man who offered the job. A man who may be one of the greatest/dumbest villains we’ve seen here at the JOE-DOWN: Kelsey Grammer as Darius Grouch III. A.K.A. “The Rumble!”
Froemming: Given what we know from the character of this movie, there is no way his hired goons call him “The Rumble” behind his back. They call him “The Grouch.” Because he is very grouchy and seems to be on the verge to tell people to SCRAM!
Brown: “The Grouch” is a WAY better nickname than “The Rumble.” What, are they worried about getting sued by puppets? How did he get “The Rumble?” Did Grouchy here get into a tussle with the Sharks and Jets and earned that nickname for surviving a knife fight?
Froemming: “The Rumble” makes me think he got his nickname after eating rotten tacos and wrecked a toilet one night.
Brown: “The Tum-Tum Ache” is a better nickname than “The Rumble.”
With the art robbery turning out to be a bust, “The Rumble” has another robbery up his sleeve. See, he has Jack wrapped around his finger after buying Jack’s outstanding gambling debt and he wants him to commit one more heist.
The target: THE MONEY PLANE!
… The (REDACTED) money plane? Is this another case of a filler name in a script never actually being replaced?
Froemming: I feel like this whole script was littered with placeholder text. Hell, I may even say 90 percent of this movie could have been made of placeholder text.
Brown: The money plane is where the worst of the worst in the criminal underground get together to gamble and make insane bets. Here, let “The Rumble” explain it and take a moment to appreciate that Kelsey Grammer is giving gravitas to a place where you can bet to watch a man (REDACTED) an alligator.
I will give credit to Kelsey Grammer: He goes for it here.
Froemming: I have seen in movies Italian crime bosses, Irish crime bosses, Cuban crime bosses and Russian crime bosses to name a few. This is the first WASP crime boss I have ever seen in a movie. He looks more like the president of a country club than Michael Corelone.
Brown: The easy comparison is “The Rumble” is just Frasier being Tony Montana from “Scarface” but it is ABSOLUTELY Frasier being Tony Montana from “Scarface.” Sometimes the easiest comparison is the correct one.
Froemming: Now I want to hear Al Pacino sing “Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs.”
Brown: We’ve already seen Al sing about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinks. Why the (REDACTED) would you want something like that again, Froemming?! You sick (REDACTED)!
Froemming: I said what I said!
OK, so The Rumble has arranged aliases for everyone and everything they need to hijack this money plane is in this big duffle bag, which is alarming in a post-9/11 world. Isabella will be one of the stewardesses and this is when I yelled BULLSHIT at this movie. I am pretty sure a flying casino is not going to let just anyone with a uniform onto their plane. Also, wouldn’t one of the staff realize “Hey, look, another crew member we never seen before is on this highly illegal Money Plane.”
Brown: Also, part of the plan involves a robbery crew member named Iggy (played by director Andrew Lawrence) communicating with Jack in the sky when he takes over the money plane. The money plane operates in international airspace, which is mostly over the ocean. How the (REDACTED) can you communicate with a plane while on the ground like that?! They treat it like they’re using Dustin’s HAM radio in season 3 of “Stranger Things.” You know, like no big deal.
Also, this plane seems like it’s a poorly-kept secret. Especially when it seems like any regular flight attendant can be assigned to the money plane. How have federal agents not raided this flying den of sin and mayhem?
Froemming: You mean this flying den decorated by Spencer Gifts and cheap curtains? It has the production quality of a porno.
So our crew get boarded and we learn the Money Plan does not have cameras, which is a stupid idea since sneaking smart phones and computers aboard seem to be no problem. Also, with billions of dollars worth of gambling money and crypto cash, you might want to have stronger security than the honor system here.
Brown: Before we get into the air, we got A LOT to talk about.
First, “The Rumble” gives Jack the whole “do the job or I’ll murder your family” bit. Jack’s wife: Denise Richards.
Froemming: Nothing of value would be lost there.
Brown: And man, Paulie and his robot have more chemistry than Edge and Denise Richards. In fact, the only chemistry between two actors in this movie is with Edge and the child actor playing his daughter. It makes sense: Edge is a dad.
Also, Thomas Jane just bursts into Jack’s house before he leaves and makes the actor’s choice to smoke a swap meet pipe while discussing the money plane. Hey Jack, if you’re going to rob a money plan, maybe don’t tell other people you’re robbing said plane.
Thomas Jane says he’ll watch Jack’s family and “if anything goes wrong up there, I’m a phone call away.” Hey Punisher: phones don’t work on airplanes. Especially on planes flying over the (REDACTED) ocean!
If I put the line of how long Thomas Jane, Denise Richards and Kelsey Grammer were on set at two days, would you take the under or over, Froemming?
Froemming: Two days seems generous. We have more camera time of Edge in a pilot’s cockpit than the combined screentime of all those three put together.
Brown: And you’re right about the plane: it’s so (REDACTED) obvious that it’s a set, much in the same way WWE will dress up a locker room and try to claim it’s a restaurant away from the arena.
Froemming: For a high-dollar, high-stakes Money Plane, it sure has a lot of lava lamps.
Brown: It’s like the interior decorator just got done watching the first “Ausin Powers” and thought, yep, that should be what the money plane looks like.
Froemming: So Isabella, somehow, is just waved in as a stewardess. Again, makes zero sense. We also meet the Concierge letting people on the plane, and woah, time has not been kind to Joey Lawrence.
Brown: Joey Lawrence looks like evil Forrest Gump in this movie. Like if Forrest acted like the asshole that beat up Jenny at the Black Panthers party.
I also wrote that he looks like Coach Buzzcut from “Beavis and Butt-Head.”
Froemming: With everyone on board, the Concierge explains the rules of Money Plane, which were no different than the rules of eating at a Perkin’s. No fighting, no stealing, don’t make a scene. We also meet The Bookkeeper, who runs the games and is played by the guy who was Mikey Palmice on “The Sopranos,” so I was waiting for his eventual end:
So with the rules squared away, what is first for this thrilling, illegal gamlbing operation in international airspace?
Also, our main character, Edge The Manbun, has a gamlbing addiction, and he plays one hand and gets up and leaves. That is not what gambling addicts do. My buddy has a huge problem and I once saw him do one pull tab at a bar and spent the next four hours blowing $400 on the things.
Brown: I have more questions about the money plane itself.
Like, assuming that flight attendants like Isabella are shuffled in and out with no regard for secrecy, how are the flight attendants not freaking the (REDACTED) out when violent/deranged things happen? We eventually see a game of Russian Roulette and there is hardly a whimper from anyone.
Also, during the rules explanation, the Concierge and Bookkeeper mention there is a place for guests to shower up and relax, there’s places to play cards and gamble AND prostitutes just emerge out of NOWHERE if anyone is looking for carnal pleasure.
… How much room do you have on this plane?! Honestly, airplanes are nothing more than Greyhound busses in the sky. You’re lucky to have one functional toilet!
Froemming: The hookers come out after one of the folks on the plane, who looked a lot like Casey Affleck, got all handsy on Isabella, which seems like something Casey Affleck would do. But since stewardesses are employees (employees of this illegal money plane operation) they are hands off.
Now, Edge plays his one hand and gets up to snoop around the Money Plane, leaving poor Trey to encounter the more bizarre elements of the gambling world in his place. Trey wins at poker, and for some reason is forced to play Russian Roulette with a character known only as The Texan. Because, again, this is “Placeholder Text: The Movie.”
Brown: ANOTHER Lawrence brother, Matthew, plays The Texan, and he has the audacity to give a “really?” look when Trey goes under his pseudonym of Mr. McGillicuddy. It’s like dude, your brother co-wrote this movie, go give him a stupid look.
Speaking of pseudonyms, Jack takes the identity of the world’s largest human trafficker, but one whose name is unknown to the rest of the world. And yet as soon as his name is brought up, EVERYBODY knows what he does and his line of work. Did anyone who read this script speak up to say “That’s really (REDACTED) stupid?”
*Sigh* I’ll just put the Michael Bay clip here for you, Froemming.
Froemming: For a plane that rakes in billions and is for the elite criminals, why does everyone on board look like they couldn’t afford to be on a Sun Country flight?
Brown: They’re lucky to make it onto Spirit!
Froemming: So, the Texan gets frustrated because Trey does not want to put a loaded gun to his head and pull the trigger in the off chance that the chamber is empty. Flustered, and yelling he can’t lose, the Texan blows his brains out. A perfect image for how my brain felt watching this movie.
Edge, meanwhile, finds his way to the cockpit, where he needs to take over and steer the thing so Iggy can lock onto it with his doodad (technical term). Only trouble, he gets the co-pilot knocked out with ease, but we then get a fight with the pilot which reminded me of this infamous fight scene:
Brown: Problem with this fight scene is it’s two big men (the copilot is, what, 6-8, and Edge is 6-4) fighting in an enclosed space. My neck hurts FOR them.
Also, when did we ever establish that Jack has experience flying planes? Through the exposition dump and between puffs of his pipe, Thomas Jane’s character establishes that he knows how to fly a plane. But we never got that from Jack. But what the (REDACTED) ever, Jack has control of the plane. He gets on a Zoom call (I assume; COVID has gone on too long) with “The Rumble,” who has never left the room we saw him in earlier.
Kelsey Grammer never changes locations. Same goes for Thomas Jane. I think Denise Richards went from being indoors to outdoors so I’ll give her some credit, I guess.
Froemming: How sad is it that this is a better con involving Grammer than anything The Rumble does in this whole movie?
Brown: Watch what you say about “The Rumble,” Froemming. He’s the baddest mother(REDACTED) on the planet!
Brown: So we see the Concierge shoot a man for hiding cards in his sleeve (cheater’s justice!), and then it’s off to the “themed adventures.”
These “themed adventures” are live-action feeds of people dying/suffering. You know, the kind of thing that would be easier to manipulate and falsify than mail-in voting, according to President Trump, who I’m convinced has been on this money plane before.
So, as Jack and Isabella do things (??) to take over the plane, Trey is winning money by guessing how long it takes a man to succumb to snake poison and the like.
Froemming: Would have been more terrifying if they bet on who would last longest watching 2 Girls, 1 Cup.
Brown: Christ, Froemming. We link clips from “The Simpsons” all the time and somehow that feels like the most dated reference we’ve made.
Froemming: You seem like you have seen the whole thing.
Brown: I saw more than I ever needed to. College was a strange time.
Anyways, while trying to gain access deeper inside the plane Isabella kills one of the plane workers by using a self-defense technique perfected by Iraqi journalists: throwing her shoe!
She also tears the guy’s ears off because it won’t be suspicious for her at all later to be caked in someone else’s blood.
Froemming: With control of the plane, the team are now all speaking on their earpieces like they are the Secret Service. They are all acting suspicious on a plane full of suspicious people. A lot of this heist would have been prevented with, I dunno, CAMERAS! Edge is video chatting with The Grouch for crying out loud.
Anywho, Isabella gains access to the safe area, and is able to crack the super safe with a digital lock on it in seconds using the index finger of a goon she beat the bejesus out of.
There are literally no suspense or tense moments in this movie. It is the movie equivalent of playing “DOOM” on God Mode.
All they need now is the server room, where Trey can steal billions in crypto dollars, or basically $25 American dollars.
Brown: Speaking of video games like “DOOM,” I was laughing when Isabella was stacking dead/knocked out bodies into the plane’s bathroom like a game of “Hitman.” Eventually, someone has to get up and use the bathroom, right?
While in the air, Thomas Jane has some shocking news for Jack: the painting he tried to steal is already owned by “The Rumble.” He was set up!
Jack’s reaction: Let’s keep doing the job. Are you goddamn serious, Jack?! Cut your losses, man!
I did laugh a lot when “The Rumble” assassinates a man then complains about getting blood on his terracotta. That’s when it was cemented that this is Frazier as Tony Montana.
Froemming: Yup, it is basically “Well, we are already here…” with the heist. But then again, 99 percent of this movie made no sense at all.
Now Trey and Isabella make it to the server room, where a hillbilly arms dealer and Casey Affleck follow them and start a good old-fashioned brawl. And I laughed so hard when Isabella stabs Casey Affleck to death with what I think is a cheap bottle of vodka.
Brown: I think it was a whiskey bottle. And I was cackling at how poorly the actions and CGI blood matched up.
Froemming: Money Plane: Where the Drinks Are Rail Quality.
Trey, though, is not a fighter. They said earlier he was their IT guy, so he just gets his ass kicked in the server room, doing all sorts of damage to the electronics, yet somehow not really throwing them offline or breaking them.
Then Isabella comes in to help and throws the hillbilly into the servers much the same as he was to Trey, yet he ends up getting electrocuted.
The logic of this scene is breathtaking.
The servers? It takes two minutes to get them back up so they can steal the crypto money.
And then Edge shows up! WHO IS FLYING THE MONEY PLANE?
Brown: Also, how do you have a WWE Hall of Famer and use him for all of ONE fight scene? Yes, his wrestling career came to an end for eight-plus years due to neck injuries and years of abuse to his body. But it’s not like he’s taking bumps here!
But, Jack does give “The Rumble” the proverbial middle finger when he reveals he knew about the screwjob from before.
Froemming: Given Edge is Canadian, was this a Montreal Screwjob?
This leads to another fine moment for Kelsey Grammer.
Oh Kelsey, you put too much effort into a movie called “Money Plane.”
And in perhaps the most disappointing thing in this movie, when Iggy is being surrounded by a bunch of hired goons from “The Rumble,” it turns out that Thomas Jane is piloting a drone that shoots and kills all these bad guys. All while sitting on the couch and drinking a beer.
You have The Punisher, and you’re not letting him punish people?! Sure, he saves Jack’s family later when more hired goons storm the house. But Thomas Jane isn’t the Self-Defender, he’s the goddamn Punisher!
Thomas Jane… he gives as much effort as anyone should in a movie called “Money Plane.”
Froemming: Well, they have all the money and crypto cash, and decide to give it all away to charity, hopefully Sports For Kids, for some reason. And they call The Grouch, and play audio of him yelling about robbing the Money Plane over the PA system…
For a Money Plane, there is a shocking lack of security here.
So, the fine folks take bets on how long it takes Joey Lawrence to send some goons out to the WASP Don and take him out…
Why didn’t The Rumble just…leave his house?
Brown: That would require the Lawrence brothers to pay Kelsey Grammer more than they did.
Froemming: Well, he stays and decides to go out like Tony Montana, only the budget wasn’t there for such a spectacular ending, so we just kinda assume it happened until “Money Plane 2” comes out.
Brown: When “The Rumble” has goons named P-Roach, you know he’s not surviving any sort of shootout. He’s deader than disco, man.
Froemming: We will see when “Money Plane 2” comes out!
Brown: Before they hop out of the money plane (which, because it’s in international airspace probably means it’s over an ocean), Jack and his crew take all the money out of the plane and donate it to various charities. I assume one of those charities is Sports For Kids.
Froemming: Thanks for repeating the joke I made earlier:
Literally minutes before — Froemming: Well, they have all the money and crypto cash, and decide to give it all away to charity, hopefully Sports For Kids, for some reason. And they call The Grouch, and play audio of him yelling about robbing the Money Plane over the PA system…
For a Money Plane, there is a shocking lack of security here.
Brown: It was a callback to your joke, you jockass. See? I can reference “No Holds Barred” too.
We cap off the movie by Jack and his family making $60 million by selling the painting he tried to steal before and apparently actually stole after the events of the money plane. Two problems:
- This $60 million painting is literally sitting outside next to a pile of firewood. There’s no way a painting worth that much can handle the outdoor elements.
- Denise Richards is in no way disturbed about her husband stealing a $60 million painting. She gives the look of “Oh you!” She somehow gave less effort than a movie called “Money Plane” deserves.
Froemming: Why did they bother stealing this painting? They could have given billions to charities and themselves on the plane. There was no point in doing this, and no way they are ever going to sell it after, like you said, it has been sitting next to firewood outside. All this proved to me was this heist was only pulled off via magical powers like in “Forrest Gump.” They Gumped their way through this thing.
Brown, let’s fly our Money Planes down to recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I loved how nonsensical this movie is. Plus, it’s only 83 minutes long so yeah, shut off your brain and watch this dumb, dumb movie with a friend.Froemming: It was a goofy, stupid movie. If you want to sit through dumb-fun movie, sure.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: