Money for Nothing (1993 film)

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Money for Nothing
Money for nothing.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by Ramón Menéndez
Produced by Tom Musca
Screenplay by
Based on "The Joey Coyle Story" 
by Mark Bowden
Music by Craig Safan
Cinematography Tom Sigel
Edited by Nancy Richardson
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
September 10, 1993
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1,039,824[1]

Money for Nothing is a 1993 comedy crime film directed by Ramón Menéndez.[2] It is based on a reporter's article about the life of Joey Coyle, an unemployed longshoreman in Philadelphia who, on February 26, 1981, found $1.2 million in the middle of the street after it had fallen out of the back of an armored car.[3] The screenplay, written by Menéndez, Tom Musca and Carol Sobieski, is based on an article by Mark Bowden. The film stars John Cusack as Coyle, and features a supporting cast that includes Debi Mazar, Michael Madsen, Benicio del Toro, Michael Rapaport, James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Maury Chaykin, Currie Graham and Fionnula Flanagan.

The real Coyle committed suicide less than one month before the film was released.[4]


Joey (John Cusack) is an unemployed longshoreman who finds a bag full of money that fell out of the back of an armored car. Joey forces his friend Kenny Kozlowski (Michael Rapaport) to drive Kenny's car in the lake to hide the tire tracks. Unknown to them, a local boy witnesses them doing the crime. Joey tells Kenny that he's not going to turn the money in and will keep it for himself. Joey refuses to tell his family about it. The police are investigating the missing money and the local boy tells them about the car. The police find the car in the lake and trace it back to Kenny's house. Later, the police head to Kenny's house. During that, Kenny's dad beats his son with a belt and Kenny tells the police that Joey took the money. The neighbors overhear this and word spreads around the city that Joey took the money. Joey and his girlfriend head to the airport to leave the country, until they get arrested.


The cast includes:[5]


James Berardinelli gave the film 2/4 stars (two stars out of four), saying "the film lacks the substance to keep it going for one-hundred minutes. In fact, it's debatable whether there's enough meat for something half that length. Instead of a wistful fantasy about what someone could do with this much money, we get a plodding drama that takes a few unsuccessful stabs at comedy."[5] According to Megan Rosenfeld of The Washington Post, the film "gets close to being a deft modern fable but flirts with cheap comedy too often"; "the movie veers into a crude caper and chase, all but abandoning the black comedy that has been so artfully set up. As long as the filmmakers stick to the specific, deeply textured reality of the neighborhood, the movie works; once they begin to broaden it, the flavor, and the poignancy, vanish."[6] Kevin Thomas wrote "Money for Nothing brings to mind The Pope of Greenwich Village in its earthy urban grit and gallery of well-drawn ethnic portraits. Like that film, Money for Nothing exudes compassion for the underdog dreamer but could use more personality and punch in putting over its dynamite story. Even so, it's a winner because of the inherent strength of its material and its cast. For all its humor Money for Nothing (rated R for language and for a scene of sexuality) is marked by an ever-growing undertow of sadness that's all but palpable."[7]


  1. ^ Money for Nothing at Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-08-24.
  2. ^ "Money for Nothing". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Meagher, L.D. (November 12, 2002). "Review: How $1 mil ruined a man's life". CNN. Retrieved 2014-08-24. Journalist Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down," was a Philadelphia newspaper reporter on February 26, 1981, the day a million dollars fell off the back of an armored truck. He has reconstructed the story of how Joey Coyle came into possession of the money, and what happened to it. 
  4. ^ Bowden, Mark (August 16, 1993). "Folk Hero Coyle Hangs Himself Famed Finder Of $1.2 Million Dies In S. Phila.". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2014-08-24. Coyle took his life just three weeks before the scheduled national release of a feature-length film - tentatively titled Money for Nothing - based on the episode that made him a household name in Philadelphia. "What can I say?" said Tom Musca, the film's producer and co-screenwriter. "It hurts. We're sitting here doing the final mixes on a film about this guy. We're all just stunned, and sad." 
  5. ^ a b c Berardinelli, James (1993). "Money For Nothing". ReelViews. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  6. ^ Rosenfeld, Megan (September 15, 1993). "Money for Nothing (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 
  7. ^ Thomas, Kevin (September 10, 1993). "Money for Nothing a Comedy Worth Something". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-08-24. 

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