It’s time for an old school comedy with this film. Fortune Cookie is certainly a winner and the film’s plot is helped out by a great script. I also give the film props for the fact that a Fortune Cookie actually does appear in the film so the title wasn’t too vague. Forget hidden meanings, I would have been a little upset if the actual fortune cookie had not made an appearance here. The film can be a bit sad, but for the most part it is just a great joyride in the end.
Harry was a photographer who was covering a Cleveland Browns game for the NFL. Unfortunately, he was a little close to the action and the punt returner ended up hitting him rather hard. Harry was knocked unconscious and taken to the hospital in case he may have been injured rather seriously. This wasn’t the case and Harry was ready to go back home, but that’s when his brother Willie shows up. Willie lets Harry know that he can easily earn 1 million dollars out of this if he’ll just pretend to be injured. Harry doesn’t like this plan since he’s always been a law abiding citizen, but Willie lets him know that his divorced wife may come back to him if he goes ahead with the deal. She even calls and pretends to care about him so Harry decides to go through with the plan. Can he really keep up the charade long enough for the NFL to back down?
Willie is really the character who steals the show here. He really knows his stuff when it comes to conning people about fake injuries. Not only does he know a lot of cases from back in the day, but he knows how to merge fact and fiction in order to make a very believable narrative. Willie is an incredibly charismatic character and he fills the film with good one liners throughout. He can be a little mean, the film also makes a point of showing that he’s not really a good guy. The one thing that he does really like is money though and he is good at making it. He’s no hero, but he is the character that the film needed to boost it to the next level. The NFL keeps on trying to trick the heroes with underhanded tactics like bugging the apartment, but Willie sees through them every single time and is always ahead of the game. Without him, the film would have been over before it could have even begun.
Harry is not quite as good. In the end he makes the right choice about not keeping up the lie, but the process of getting there was quite painful. He is extremely naive whenever the ex wife appears. It’s extremely obvious that she does not care for him one bit and just wants the money, but he doesn’t seem to suspect anything until he finally breaks down at the end and takes it out on everyone. He is also very wishy washy at times as he keeps on acting as if he doesn’t want to go through with the plan before letting Willie convince him. It’s almost as if it is just an act he is putting on so he looks reluctant before going through with it. It’s just really hard to like Harry even if he is portrayed as the “nice” character. He simply lets himself get pulled along for the ride for too long before double thinking it.
No worries, we have an array of supporting characters at the ready who are solid enough to cover for Harry. The Doctor from one of the first scenes is great as he talks back to Willie the whole time and certainly isn’t afraid to dish out the insults. He may have been played like a fiddle, but he kept them honest. There was also the shady doctor who suspected that the whole thing was fake from the start, but ultimately he could not prove it. The 3 NFL lawyers were also fairly great as they tried their best to take Willie down a peg or two. They may have lost every fight, but I liked the way that they sat down and discussed the situation before making a move. It didn’t work out, but some plans just don’t in the end. They still gave it their all and helped make the film so fun.
Meanwhile, we have a character who is played seriously. Boom Boom Jackson is the character who injured Harry in the first place and he wants to rectify his mistake by helping Willie as much as possible. The thing is, he is a character that you don’t want to see at times. That’s because you can kind of feel bad for him since this is obviously upsetting. How would you feel if you may have just crippled a person for life right? So, Jackson is a very sympathetic character and the fact that you know how he is being used just makes it all the worse. However, as Willie was my favorite character, I was rooting for him the entire time. It was a conflict of interest. I’d say that the film did drop the ball with Jackson towards the end though as he probably took things way too hard. He did his part to help Harry out, but that’s no real reason to start missing meetings, tanking at the games, and getting into bar room fights. It felt a little forced to be honest so that Harry would be pressured into making the right call.
This film certainly did have a lot of fun with itself. You can tell from all of the super over dramatic characters. Take the mom for instance, she spent the entire film being really hysterical and crying nonstop. She felt like a parody character. This colorful cast of characters ended up being a really strong pack. As mentioned before, the writing is also strong and in the end this film is really complete.
I also have to give some credit to the ending because it was handled really well. By “the ending” I’m talking about Willie’s scene by the way. He’s very good at thinking on his feet and immediately knows how to turn a bad situation into a good one. Harry may have bailed out on him, but he realized that now he can sue the NFL for breaking the constitution by bugging and spying on his house the entire time. He has no proof so it’ll be tough, but he can definitely pull this off. I wouldn’t mind a sequel to this film!
Overall, The Fortune Cookie is one of the best films that I’ve seen in a long time. It has a perfect blend of humor and more humor as Willie steals the show here. The mental battle between him and the NFL is really why you’ll be at the edge of your seat for this film, but all of the characters really do a good job here. The unlikable ex-wife is made to be a bad character of course, but at least she is also super exaggerated. Think of it as Harry’s ultimate moral crisis. Can he make the right move while being surrounded by bad influences everywhere? I do wish that he had a stronger resolve and hesitated less, but you can’t be perfect and I suppose this gave Willie more room to shine since he was always the smartest guy in the room.