Market forces, in the form of brusque Wall Street tycoon Larry the Liquidator, see to it that shareholder interests are protected despite the opposition of old-fashioned management. [ Other People’s Money credits: Dir: Norman Jewison/ Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck, Penelope Ann Miller/ 101 min/ Drama, Comedy/ Pro-Capitalism, Anti-Redistribution, Creator as Hero]
“This business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency, to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. Ah, but we can’t, [says the opposition]. We can’t because we have a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them? I got two words for that: Who cares? … Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be used productively. And if it is, you’ll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy, and God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves.” So says Larry the Liquidator, in an appeal to the shareholders of a money-losing company he’s trying to buy.
His speech follows that of the company CEO, who makes an equally forceful appeal to the shareholders to resist the company’s sale. And that is what makes this film on the subject of hostile takeovers so effective: it’s evenhanded. It’s sympathetic to management and employees, but makes the critical point, almost unheard of in other films on this subject, that the money spent to support management and employees in a money-losing business is “other people’s money.”
Larry the Liquidator is raunchy and abrasive but highly moral when it comes to the interests of shareholders. He wins control of the company in the end, and happily the change that he brings about turns out to be in everyone’s interest anyway.
Danny DeVito, as Larry the Liquidator, is New York City itself: bright, funny, energetic, but at times gratuitously crude, which some may find annoying after awhile. In other respects, Other People’s Money is a generally well paced, appealing film that dramatizes the necessity and even the justice of change.
“Other People’s Money is a four-star movie that loses its way in the last, crucial scene, and for that it loses half a star.”