The concept of kids being in charge and being able to navigate life is not a new concept. Goonies, Lost Boys, IT, and Home Alone are just a few that span different genres. Movies like these make us 80s and 90s kids ponder if we could do the same. I mean who didn’t think they could make traps for possible intruders to succumb to? There’s a fun 90s classic that combines Home Alone with Richie Rich (but no Macaulay Culkin). Another 90s flick that made us wonder “what if?” is 1994’s Blank Check!
What Would You Do?
Here’s the thing, even as adults many of us question what it would be like if we hit the jackpot. Blank Check covers just that. Although it’s not the lottery and is actually fraud and theft, but it’s stealing from bad guys, so it’s okay, right? For Disney it is at the time. Although while the film is great, many feel it did not age well and may not even hold up by today’s standards. More on that later.
Blank Check stars Brian Bonsall as 12-year-old Preston Waters who is the youngest sibling in his family. Of course he is picked on by his older siblings. His aloof parents are played by James Rebhorn and Jayne Atkinson. Ric Ducommun is Henry the limo driver while Karen Duffy plays undercover cop, Shay Stanley. Other notable actors playing antagonists are corrupt banker Biderman (Michael Lerner), Quigley (Miguel Ferrer), and my favorite, Juice (Tone Loc).
Preston is the somewhat forgotten kid archetype. While riding his bike Quigley and Juice are in the process of working with Biderman to pretty much launder stolen money. When they are leaving the bank, Quigley accidentally backs into Preston’s bike. A pissed off Quigley starts to write a check, but realizes the police are near and he doesn’t want to bring attention on them. He gives the kid a blank check and leaves.
In typical 90s fashion, Preston is a computer wiz. He takes the check and bids on a mansion in the neighborhood as…Mr. Macintosh. He pays with the blank check by filling it out for a cool million dollars. So we are in the first 30 minutes or so and we have theft, money laundering, fraud, and somewhat of identity theft. Nice work, Disney.
Of course Preston goes on to accessorize the mansion with all a kid could dream of. He tries to live in both worlds as he “works” for Mr. Macintosh. Why would a millionaire have a 12-year-old working for them? Anyways. The villains come after him to get their money back while Shay and the police are investigating Mr. Macintosh.
Preston takes the villains through his house of tricks ala Home Alone, Shay kisses Preston (30 year old cop kissing a 12-year-old on a date…), Quigley states that he is Mr. Macintosh in order to get the money (that is no longer there) and he and the Juice and Biderman are then arrested and all ends well. Wild.
Capitalizing on Home Alone
Home Alone hits in 1990 and Home Alone 2 in 1992. The success of the franchise made others look for the “kid vs. villains” scenario. While Blank Check’s tricks and traps are not as unique as Kevin McCallister’s, they still showcase how far Preston’s $1 million goes in the 90s. My favorites are the go-kart course, the huge, multiple TV wall with the gaming chair suspended from the ceiling, and water slide that goes from the office into the pool. For the film’s flaws it did hit with what a 12-year-old could possibly dream of at the time.
Again, the way of taking down the villains is not as strong as other similar. Preston chases one villain with the go-kart. He makes another chase him going down the water slide. And of course, the batting cage where Juice gets hit in the junk. Overall, the film capitalized on what works in the 90s and has a classic following because of it.
Watching the film in the 90s was great. While some films age well, Home Alone, Goonies, etc., Blank Check may not when viewing today. Outlets have commented on just how creepy some of the film is. This 90s Disney film has: money laundering, theft, embezzlement, fraud, identity theft, murder plot (the bad guys want to kill Preston for taking the money), the 30-year-old banker/FBI Agent kissing a 12-year-old on the lips and saying they will go on a date in six years…
So Karen Duffy’s flirting with Brian Bonsall may be defended with “acting”. Alright, sure. However, Duffy did actually have to kiss Bonsall…on the lips…Now THAT is tough to justify even if it is “acting”. Yikes.
While many 90s films may be over-the-top, Blank Check seems to take the cake. Not even really walking the line, but drastically crossing it and passing it off as no big deal. A stark contrast to many of Disney‘s morals developing films. Still, Blank Check has quite the following and is a 90s gem to watch. But how in the hell did we miss all of that?
If this column jogs your memory about Blank Check, it’s still around to check out. Head on over to Disney+ and there it is. Give it another look. See how different your view of it may be. Although, you may want to hold off if the kids are around. It still has the nostalgia factor for me, although some parts are definitely cringe-worthy.
Do you remember Blank Check? Have you seen it recently? Do you still consider it a 90s classic, or does it now blow your mind? Leave your thoughts in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!