‘Money Talks’ Is The ‘Rush Hour’ Prototype By Way Of An Eddie Murphy Movie

Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker’s first collaboration paved the way for their future.

As Summer ’97 continues — the heat is on hehe — it’s time to talk about Money Talks. For those of us who saw Friday, Chris Tucker was already a star. He helped create a lovable weed-head and stole the movie. But that was 1995 and Tucker seemed to have higher aspirations than just being Ice Cube’s partner.

Brett Ratner was a music video director with…well, just peep the résumé:

“Pink Cookies In a Plastic Bag” by LL Cool J, “Tonight’s da Night” by Redman, “Lady” by D’Angelo, “Freak’n You” by Jodeci, and a host of Mariah Carrey joints. But in ’97, he was coming off the most expensive and audacious video of his career with Wu’sTriumph.” Like Tucker, he too was ready for bigger and better. And if not for Russell Simmons, the two never would’ve met.

“Before I directed him in ‘Money Talks’ and ‘Rush Hour,’ I met Chris Tucker though Russell Simmons, at one of the comedy clubs in Los Angeles, and he just blew me away with his talent. Then we did a music video together and I knew he was someone to look out for in the future,” Ratner told Variety.

They developed a flick to introduce Tucker to the rest of the world so they hooked him up with Charlie Sheen and made a movie which owes a lot to the same formula Hollywood used 10 years earlier to take Eddie Murphy from a superstar to a damn supernova: Put a city kid in a foreign environment with people and customs he’s not used to and have him charm the pants off everyone by being the fastest mouth in the West. Cue some explosions, police sirens, guns, and a pair of mismatched leads, and baby, you got a stew going. Sorry, wrong reference.

But you get the point. Ratner is a huge Eddie Murphy fan and probably saw teaming with Chris as his chance to make flicks as beloved as Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours, two movies he grew up watching. Tucker was hungry and thinking internationally, which is obvious to anyone who saw him in Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element as Ruby Rhod. The guy was having a big year.

When it dropped that August, partnered with one of the dopest soundtracks in history, it was an instant hit. Think of it was Rush Hour-lite, pitting two cats in a situation way above their pay-grade, dealing with corruption, a culture clash, and even has some of the same beats as Rush Hour. How you say? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Both movies involve Tucker’s character connecting with a cousin with underworld ties, the two leads learning from each other and finding a way to work past their cultural differenes, an bad guy with a foreign tongue and connections to local law enforcement, hijinks as a result of misunderstandings, a love for the City of Angels.

Rush Hour is a tighter flick though as it avoids making the same narrative mistakes of its predecessor, plus Sheen and Tucker have the chemistry of two people in a divorce settlement. While Jackie Chan and Tucker made it look effortless, these two look like every scene with each other is like pushing a boulder up a very long hill with one hand tied behind your back.

Our latest episode of Beats, Dimes, + Life discussed the flick more in-depth, including that soundtrack featuring Ma$e, Lil’ Kim, and anyone else who was hot in ’97 and affiliated with Bad Boy. Take that, take that.

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Marcus Benjamin is a danger to the public, an alum of American University, St. John’s University, a screenwriter, and has an intense relationship with words. Witness his tomfoolery on Twitter, @AbstractPo3tic.

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