Brother Bonding Road Movie
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 09/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""12 Bucks" was a pleasant surprise for me. While not a perfect movie, I found the story poignant, the film moving, and the actors excellent. As the story begins, we see two small boys watching tv cartoons. The cartoon guy gets a gun to his head, a hole the size of a donut blown in his temple, falls over and then gets up. When dad begins abusing the cocaine-intoxicated mother, the kids get a gun that's been left out and blow daddy's brains out. As the police are taking the kids away, the one says, "Why didn't he get up?" It's a perfect comment on the effect of violence in entertainment to which we allow our children to be subjected. From there the story leaps forward to where the boy who's pulled the trigger who has been in foster care and prison comes to see his little brother who's been adopted by well-to-do Californians and is in college. Two unknowns are the leads, Scott Waugh as the younger sheltered Johnny and Sean Graham as the street-smart Tanner. Tanner convinces Johnny to come with him to a hearing in Hollywood. Johnny falls asleep and wakes to find Tanner has taken him into the desert on the way to Hollywood, Florida rather than Hollywood, California. Thus begins the road adventure. Starting the cross country journey with only 12 bucks, we see some of Tanner's cons to get money and hear Johnny's condemnations about his brother's methods. Some of the picture does not hang together. About two-thirds of the way through, the moralistic Johnny and the street-smart Tanner unexplainedly seem to trade natures. The brothers pull a lost dog con to gain entrance to the house where two sisters played by Ming-Na Wen and Irene Bedard live. After some hot tub romance, Johnny nears a breakdown and the great reversal in the movie plot is revealed. The film ends with the brothers bonding and reunited in their sort-of family relationship. Sean Graham is extremely watchable as the street smart Tanner. With the various levels in the film, he shows himself an actor with great potential. Ernest Borgnine makes a brief appearance. This movie is somewhat of a sleeper, not your obvious choice. There is sex and violence, but presented with a reason. Seek this one out!"