09/12/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
Melanie Griffith, Ed Harris
Many years ago, in parodying the movie Love Story, Mad magazine had Ali MacGraw's character suffering from movie-star disease, which caused her to lie in bed looking more and more beautiful in each successive scene until she died. Well, Griffith's character in Milk Money suffers from a similar malady, movie-star prostitution (for a textbook case, see Julia Roberts
in Pretty Woman). The symptoms are predictable: The afflicted character is invariably sassy but vulnerable and sweet. She never actually plies her trade or takes drugs and, despite her years on the stroll (at least 15 in Griffith's case), she seems none the worse for the wear.
If you're buying, that's what this profoundly miscalculated romantic comedy is selling. The film's far-fetched plot has three cute suburban youths pooling their lunch money—$103.62—and heading for the big city in hopes of finding a prostitute who will let them see her naked. This leads them to Griffith. It also leads Griffith to their little town, where the most adorable of these moppets (Michael Patrick Carter) tries to marry her off to his widower father, a grade school teacher (Harris).
Richard Benjamin has directed this sentimental claptrap as if it mattered, and Griffith too seems to believe in the part she's playing. Still, nothing rings true. Griffith is fine scene by scene, but only the brashness of, say, a Bette Midler or a Judy Davis could have made this moronic role work. (PG-13)