A ChucksConnection Film Review


Brian Bonsall wears black, red, and optical white high top Converse “Chuck Taylor” All Stars in the film.


Blank Check

by Hal Peterson


Blank Check still 1

Chucks-wearing Preston Waters is mistakenly given $1,000,000 cash in Blank Check.

Blank Check is a Disney family film about eleven-year-old Preston Waters (Brian Bonsall) who wants the acceptance and financial independence of an adult, because he is tired of being the picked-on, youngest kid in his family of five, with no respect or money. As the film opens, Preston is upset because his parents Fred and Sandra (James Rebhorn, Jayne Atkinson) are allowing his two older brothers Ralph and Damien (Michael Faustino, Chris Demetral) to take over part of his room so they can use the space for a new business venture that they are starting. Being older brothers, Ralph and Damien take great delight in rubbing it in to Preston as they mess with his things. But their dad has also brought in a computer for the new business, which Prescott soon uses to his advantage. In another early scene, Fred drops Preston off at a birthday party in an amusement park but only gives him two dollars, so he has to spend most of the time bored watching the other kids go on the fun rides. Later, in a set of circumstances typical of this type of film, Preston accidentally meets up with a recently released criminal, Charles Quigley (Miguel Ferrer), when he runs over Prescott’s bicycle while backing up his car. At first Quigley tries to blame the accident on Prescott, but when witnesses appear and he sees a police car coming, he quickly gives Prescott a signed check to settle things. When Prescott returns home with his broken bicycle, he doesn’t tell his parents the full story about what happened. Instead he says that the bike wasn’t worth anything anyway, so his dad grounds him for not taking better care of the bike. Sulking in his room, Preston remembers the check and to his surprise, discovers that there is no amount written in. Realizing that this is his chance to change his life, he uses the computer to print a check made out to Cash for $1,000,000. Even more surprising is what happens at the bank the next day. When the teller sends him to the bank president, Mr. Biderman (Michael Lerner), for approval, the banker readily cashes the check and loads up his backpack with bundles of cash.

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Preston revels in his newly acquired cash.

It turns out that the banker was laundering the money for Quigley, and thought that Preston was the messenger Quigley had sent him to take the money. Although the bad guys soon discover their error when the real messenger Juice (Tone Lóc) arrives at the bank, Preston has already left and run home with the cash. Exulting in his room, Preston can’t believe his good luck and immediately starts to implement his plan for independence. Using the speech simulation feature on his computer, and the computer’s brand name to create a fictitious adult persona (Mr. Macintosh), Preston buys a nearby mansion (ironically overbidding the obnoxious Quigley) and then goes on a major shopping spree to outfit the house, and set himself up in style. He hires a limo driver Henry (Rick Ducommun) to take him around, and the two of them purchase clothing, an incredible video system, a well-padded boxing ring, a velcro jumping wall, a water slide, a go-cart track and a batting cage. The adolescent shopping spree continues with trucks arriving at his new house to deliver huge supplies of cookies, soft drinks, and other goodies. Preston tells his family that Mr. Macintosh has hired him to help manage his business affairs. This turn of events finally earns him the freedom and respect he craves because he tells his dad and older brothers that Mr. Macintosh has expressed a personal interest in their businesses, and they want to get in on the Macintosh financial action. All of those dollars being spent around town by Preston in the name of Mr. Macintosh soon are noticed because the original stolen money had been marked by the FBI and they had already planted an undercover agent Shay (Karen Duffy) as a teller in the bank. When Shay starts to hang out with Preston, in order to find out more about the elusive Mr. Macintosh, every eleven-year old’s fantasy is fulfilled when the two of them go out on a dinner date, and Shay finds herself actually charmed by young Preston. Meanwhile, the bumbling villains (there must be a Disney school for incompetent crooks) eventually figure out who Preston is and start chasing after him to get their money back. Things now become a little more serious as both the FBI and the Quigley gang are in hot pursuit of Preston and Mr. Macintosh, and the balance of the film focuses on this chase.

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Preston hires a limo driver and goes on shopping spree.

Blank Check freely borrows from other films in this type of genre. There is a little bit of Home Alone, with the idea of an eleven-year old out-smarting a gang of bumbling crooks, a little bit of Big, as a kid suddenly has the power and cash of an adult while developing a romantic interest, and even some Risky Business as young Preston becomes a tycoon in sunglasses. Brian Bonsall in his role as the entrepreneurial Preston is virtually in every scene, and he succeeds in this role because he doesn’t overplay his part. Bonsall may have been picked for this part because he played Michael J. Fox’s younger brother on Family Ties, but he shows that he can hold his own as an actor. While his character never really addresses the morality of the situation, the generally inept and mean nature of the villains makes it easy to ignore the moral issues of greed, fraud, and theft. And Preston has so much fun spending the money, showing that he is capable of intelligent decisions, and exuding sensitivity and romantic instincts in his relationship with the foxy Shay that the film is very enjoyable just on that level. Karen Duffy is charming in her role as the undercover FBI agent/bank teller, and the chemistry between her and Bonsall works. You would like to see the two of them paired together again when both are adults (Blank Check twenty-something?). Director Rupert Wainwright deserves some credit for the way he uses the material he is given. Although still bumbling and inept at times, the villains are allowed to show some instincts and abilities later in the action, with even a harder edge than you might expect in a Disney film, and so some excitement and tension is built up as the plot moves to a close. Although the romantic element of the film is supposed to be PG, nevertheless there is more than just a baby-sitter and kid type of relationship that develops between Bonsall and Duffy, especially in the rather seductive outdoor fountain scene. Complaints about this have led Disney to remove Blank Check from its new streaming service. The friendship that develops between Henry the chauffeur and Preston is a nice touch, because Preston didn’t really have a male friend or adult that he could confide in. In some ways, it reminds you of other films where this occurs like My Favorite Year or even Driving Miss Daisy. The bottom line: Blank Check reflects the materialism of our society as seen through the eyes and actions of a clever and resourceful eleven-year-old. Eventually he learns that there are more important things in life than just money and power.

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Preston enjoys the latest technology toys and quickly purchases a fabulous video system.

Best Chucks Scene

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Preston and Shay go out on a dinner date together.

Brian Bonsall wears black high top chucks in many of the scenes of the film. There are a number of closeup shots during the opening scenes, especially when he runs home with the money from the bank and when riding his bicycle. He also wears some other sneakers after his big shopping spree. But apparently he bought some more colors of chucks while shopping, because he wears red high tops with a suit on his big date with Shay (Karen Duffy) and white high tops with a white tuxedo during the party scene toward the end of the film.

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Preston and Shay discuss their relationship.

Blank Check. (1994) Brian Bonsall, Karen Duffy, Miguel Ferrer, James Rebhorn. Directed by Rupert Wainwright.
Categories: Family, Comedy, Coming of Age.
ChucksConnection Rating: 3 chucks ratingMPAA Rating: PG

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