Some studies suggest that focusing on the positive can lead to greater happiness. So, let me say that the lighting in For Love or Money was sometimes nice, the acting was fine, and the shots of the countryside were charming. And people were gainfully employed by making this movie, which I’m sure was something they were happy about.
Nope. This movie was still horrible. HORRIBLE! It was so horrible that I am not going to worry about spoiling it for you because it is already so rotten. Maybe my words will serve as a cautionary tale and save you watching it. Please note, there will be no screenshots with this post because I refuse to go back and watch any part of it again, lest the Netflix algorithm think I want more garbage like this brand of garbage. You won’t win this time, algorithm!
For Love or Money begins the way so many terrible stories do: With a white dude’s wounded pride. When Mark (Robert Kazinsky) was but a young, pudgy lad, he wrote a poem for a girl who rejected him and then he got beat up by some jerks. This has defined his entire life. Look, I get awkwardness, I get horrible childhood experiences, and I definitely get the real and lasting trauma they can inflict, so don’t think I’m trying to diminish any of that. What I’m saying is that with maturity can come the knowledge that those children were jerks or fighting their own demons or both, the knowledge that you are worthy of love, and the ability to work through your pain and move forward. Get therapy, Mark! It can make an amazing difference in processing childhood traumas, Mark! (Spoiler: Mark does not get therapy.)
Flash-forward to now, when he says he still feels like a “hamster with a lobotomy” when he speaks to women and apparently still yearns for the same girl (who is now a woman, obviously) even though he hasn’t seen her in forever and didn’t really know her to begin with. Also, let it be said that I feel like focusing on his awkwardness as the reason he’s doesn’t have any luck with women, paints all women as shallow for not being able to see him as a “good guy.” Plenty of grown-ass women, myself included, are quite happy with an awkward man whose main moves include not having any moves in large part because he doesn’t think of women as being able to be won over with empty gestures and glib remarks, but instead sees them as actual sentient human beings.
Anyway, for some reason probably associated with continuing to live in his past as if it’s the present, he goes to the funeral of one of his classmates who he hated and is happy to see gone. This is a poor life choice and, honestly, just a poor choice for a movie premise. He runs Connie (Samantha Barks) there, the girl he once gave the poem to, who, more recently, was the girlfriend of the dead guy. She is beautiful, vain, and doesn’t remember him. Instead of walking the fuck away and moving on with his life, he thinks this is a good reason to give her his business card and suggest they go out to lunch. She’s not interested until another former classmate (and a total ass), Jonny (Ed Speelers who also played, if I’m remembering correctly, a jerk on Downton Abbey), points out that Mark will soon be coming into $20 million. (Or maybe it’s pounds? I will not watch any part of this movie again to verify. It really doesn’t matter either way. Lots of money.) Together, Jonny and Connie decide that Connie should marry Mark so she can take half his money.
Connie goes out with Mark. Mark spills red wine on her and then dumps white wine on her to try to clean it up. It is clear she is offended, but she just wants to lock him down, so she kisses him, and he is completely smitten. WHAT?!? Then, not fifteen minutes into the movie, there is a montage of them dating, her trying to dodge his affections, and her moving her stuff into his apartment. Of course we see her throwing out all his decorations without consulting him and replacing them with things like stuffed animals because, Bitches be bonkers, amirite?!? Seriously, though, it’s probably more because this movie is completely unimaginative and relies heavily on misogynistic tropes. There is a required scene with his best friend/roommate, who is, of course, overweight and slovenly, but still kind of wise and insightful, where Mark says that his friend, “doesn’t know [Connie] the way I do. She’s made me happier than I’ve ever been.” Sure, Mark. Sure. Soon after, while she is sleeping, he decides to use her thumb to unlock her phone so he can read a suspicious text. This is definitely not how Blissfully Happy works. In fact, there has been literally zero evidence to support his claim of happiness. None. (Unless you count him presumably banging a woman he finds hot, which I do not.) Both Connie and Mark appear to be absolutely miserable human beings. She even looks miserable when she sleeps. And things are only about to get more miserable.
Obviously, Mark finds out from the text that Connie is conning him—is that why she’s named Connie?—and then this already bad movie goes totally rancid. Honestly, it gets so bad that I feel like I broke my own rule about not watching horror movies. Instead of WALKING AWAY (which is advice I also should have taken with regards to this movie) because that is what an actual “nice guy” would do—which is what we’re supposed to believe Mark is based, again, on no evidence aside from his face, I guess—Mark decides to exact revenge by torturing Connie. For this we are blessed with another montage twenty minutes into the movie in which he is shown doctoring her coffee, hiding her credit cards, and replacing her clothes with the same items in a size smaller—because nothing is funnier than body dysmorphia, right?!? What he’s doing is actual emotionally abusive behavior perpetrated largely by men to manipulate women into believing they are worthless and dependent. He’s gaslighting her. I hate everyone in this movie. Except maybe Mark’s best friend’s dog. He seems ok.
Thirty minutes, third montage! They’re buying her wedding dress, but he tells her everything looks awful on her. The word whale is used. Hilarious! Then he insists she buy a child’s flower girl dress because what is funnier than a man shaming a woman, infantilizing her, and controlling what she wears? In the history of the world that has never, ever gone super badly for women.
We learn that she no longer speaks to her childhood best friend, Kendra, because Connie once slept with Kendra’s fiancé. This is just in case someone in the back missed the fact that Connie is a terrible person. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure the whole movie isn’t just propaganda for some mediocre men’s rights campaign. The phrases anal sex and blue balls also come up several times because this movie was clearly made by fourteen year old boys with no impulse control. Actually, no, that’s an insult to teenage boys. At some point Kendra, who has been roped into this shitshow, wonders if Mark is taking this a wee bit too far and perhaps this is really about his fragile male ego. It’s a small sliver of hope that this movie could take a turn for the more enlightened, but Mark shuts that down by saying he’s doing it for all the men who have been duped by gold diggers. And now this movie can fuck straight off.
Mark continues to abuse Connie in various ways, including replacing her shampoo with hair remover (What in the actual fuck?!?) and taking her on a surprise camping trip (because only horrible people hate being unprepared to sleep on the cold ground). Then he surprises her by taking her to her parents’ house, which is where this rancid, garbage movie bursts into flames with nearly lethal fumes. Connie’s parents (Ivan Kaye and Anna Chancellor), it turns out, are abhorrent human beings. Abhorrent. The father forcibly fondles the maid while she’s serving them dinner, and everyone either looks vaguely appalled or doesn’t react. Ah, sexual assault jokes, so evergreen, so timeless. I mean, really, what’s not funny about a powerful man forcing himself on a woman who is also reliant on him for gainful employment? It makes me giggle just thinking about it. The mother is also dreadful and a sexual predator herself because older women cannot enjoy sex without it being a joke. They are both emotionally abusive to Connie, which is to give us insight into why she is nasty. It mainly only served to give me insight into how shockingly bad this movie is in every respect.
At some point, Connie actually says that Mark is a nice person. I think Mark tells her he’s a good guy. Again, I’m not rewatching to confirm that. (Always beware of a guy who makes a point of telling you he’s a good guy. He’s waving a red flag in your face so large that astronauts on the space station can see it and are deeply concerned for your well-being.) Connie has also been hanging out with a guy who encourages her to marry for money and calls her (gag) Sugar Tits and also see above about her parents, so her sense of nice and atrocious might be slightly skewed.
After some jokes about strippers and whores (of course) with which I will not bore you, we finally, finally make it to the wedding scene, which also marks the nearing end of this abomination. It’s as awful as you might expect. Connie is wearing the flower girl dress, Connie’s parents are lecherous and loathsome, Mark shows evidence of a nascent conscious (maybe), and Connie, because Mark is such a nice guy (Nope. He is not.) and she doesn’t want to hurt him, refuses to get married, therefore turning down her access to half his millions. My eyes and ears were bleeding freely by this point, so it’s hard for me to remember exactly what happened, but I seem to remember that Mark says he still has feelings for Connie and will continue to try and get her to love him. This is a special kind of bat-shit crazy, and, also, see above about traits of abusive men. Look, I’ve met plenty of “nice guys” like Mark, Connie would do well get some good therapy, atone for her horribly misspent youth, and run as far away from Mark and Jonny and Mark’s best friend and her parents, especially her parents, as she can (maybe taking the dog with her).
You should only consider watching this movie if you want to find out what a migraine feels like. If you know me you know I don’t say this lightly. Trust me, it will induce the right combination of nausea, pain, and dizziness for you to experience one firsthand. As for me, I’ll be over here washing my brain with bleach.