After a controversial few years in the spotlight full of tiger blood and “winning,” it has been four years since Charlie Sheen has appeared in a film or television series. But even though the actor has been out of the spotlight for quite some time, thanks to Netflix, Sheen has a movie that’s landed in the streaming service’s top 10 with 1997’s Money Talks.
Charlie Sheen stars as James Russell, an investigative news reporter who has just lost his job. Chris Tucker plays Franklin Maurice Hatchett, a hustler and ticket scalper who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Russell attempts to grab an interview with Hatchett and have him confess to his petty crimes on camera, but Hatchett unintentionally makes it out of the interview without admitting anything.
Shortly after, the police arrest Hatchett, and while is being transferred from jail, he is handcuffed to a French criminal Raymond Villard. The transport is attacked, killing all those onboard the bus except for Hatchett and Villard. Even though Villard is immediately tired of Hatchett’s antics, he brings Hatchett along since the two are handcuffed together. When they get on an escape helicopter, Hatchett is cut free and jumps out of the helicopter when he realizes his companions are planning to kill him.
Meanwhile, Russell just lost his reporter job for arguing with his manager. But a call from the now-in-hiding Hatchett gets Russell his job back as Hatchett promises him an exclusive concerning the escape and the French criminals involved, as long as the two of them survive.
Money Talks is very formulaic in nature, but does have its fun moments. The movie is directed by Brett Ratner and marks the first time of four times Tucker and Ratner would work together. Later the two would team up with the Rush Hour trilogy of movies. Charlie Sheen holds his own next to the very loud and over-the-top Tucker.
Unfortunately, the Charlie Sheen-Chris Tucker film was a critical disaster, as it carries a 16% Rotten Tomatoes critic rating, however, the audience score tells a different story, with a 71% with more than 25,000 ratings. At the box office, the movie only pulled in a worldwide gross of $48.4 million against its $25 million budget.
But there were some critics that did enjoy this combination of Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen. In his three-star review, Roger Ebert said, “Tucker, like Carrey comes on as obnoxious and irritating at first, and then you see the smile and the intelligence underneath, and he begins to grow on you.”
It’s hard to blame Charlie Sheen or Chris Tucker for the movie’s failure. Prior to Money Talks, Charlie Sheen had a steady comedy career with the Hot Shots! and Major League franchises, as well as starring in Disney’s The Three Musketeers with Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell, and Oliver Platt. Chris Tucker was just coming off a comedic turn as Ruby Rhod in The Fifth Element, and starred with Ice Cube in the 1995 comedy Friday, so it was a pairing that had potential.
Charlie Sheen had also already starred in such films as Young Guns and Navy Seals, but it was his two previous films with writer/director Oliver Stone – Wall Street and the Oscar-winning Platoon – that made Sheen a star. After Money Talks, Sheen’s controversial lifestyle and choices would eventually catch up to him. Sheen didn’t have many major roles soon after Money Talks, but he found a career resurgence on television when he starred in the series Spin City.
Charlie Sheen would return to the spoof comedies that kept him popular in the ’90s, as he would star in 2003’s Scary Movie 3, and return for cameos in Scary Movie 4 and Scary Movie 5. Soon after leaving Spin City, Sheen would take on another major television role, starring in the extremely popular Two and a Half Men from 2003-2011. Again, after leaving that show, he starred in yet another series, Anger Management, which ran for 100 episodes between 2012-2014.
But since starring in Money Talks, Charlie Sheen hasn’t had too many starring roles. More often, the actor will appear in cameos, like in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, or as himself in films like Due Date or Madea’s Witness Protection. Most recently, he played the president in Machete Kills, and starred in A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III. But the days of Charlie Sheen being a lead actor that can sell a movie seems to be behind us.
Yet there are plenty that still enjoy watching Charlie Sheen, as Money Talks is currently one of the most-watched films on Netflix streaming. For those missing the days of Charlie Sheen-led comedies, there’s no time like the present to give this one a shot.