A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Milk Money is a 1994 comedy about the sexual curiosity of three 12-year-old boys who pay a prostitute to let them see her naked and its unintended consequences. The most serious is that one boy's widowed father falls in love with the kind-hearted prostitute the boys bring home to suburbia. Later, when the son draws ovaries and fallopian tubes on her shirt for a sexual reproduction presentation to his science class, the teacher is not amused. The boys are held up by a gunman but saved by the caring prostitute. A pimp manhandles and threatens his employees. He betrays his partner, and his heart is cut out of his chest in retaliation. No sex acts or private parts are seen but misunderstandings and outright lies lead to many conversations filled with sexual innuendo. There is discussion about diaphragms, snot, and farts. A boy laments that his mother died in childbirth. Expect to hear "s--t," "bitch," "boobs," "a--hole," and "tart."
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What's the story?
In MILK MONEY, 12-year-olds Frank, Brad, and Kevin are intent on seeing a naked woman. Brad says such a thing can be had for $100 in "the City." So they jump on their bikes, leaving the suburbs and a trail of lies behind, and find themselves on an urban sidewalk wondering how you can tell a prostitute from all other women. Offering a bag containing $100 in change to various shocked ladies, they attract the interest of a thug who scams them into a dark garage, pulls a gun, and nearly gets their cash. They are saved when V (Melanie Griffith), a prostitute partying with an older gentleman in his limo, saves the boys. The client, not wanting to get involved, dumps her without paying, and she's terrified her pimp will knock her around for showing up with no money. Thus begins a beautiful friendship between Frank and V. The boys give their money to V for a peek (but Frank is too gentlemanly to look). She borrows her pimp's car and drives them home, where she falls for suburban privilege and Frank's sweet, nature-loving dad (Ed Harris).
Is it any good?
Milk Money is almost entirely about sex and the reputation of prostitutes vs. the reputation of johns, but it's also about love, family, virtue, and commitment. That's no easy accomplishment, but director Richard Benjamin and writer John Mattson achieved it with humor and intelligence and, perhaps, a nod to an earlier film about a call girl who makes good, Pretty Woman. Here the filmmakers start with a cloying cliché and elevate it into something more thought-provoking. Yes, suburbia is idealized, and, yes, Melanie Griffith plays V, the hooker with a heart of gold. But she conveys the longing for connection to community and family as well as an appreciation for holding on to what's important, whether it's a last patch of wetlands or a man and his 12-year-old son who share a spirit of generosity. Parents may waver about whether this story will be appropriate for kids as it will almost certainly spark frank discussions about a sexual marketplace that, it can be argued, relies in some sense on trapping desperate women into a form of servitude.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie partly idealizes and partly condemns life in the suburbs. What does the movie tell us about V that would lead viewers to believe she might appreciate the family-oriented suburbs?
The "hooker with a heart of gold" is a common stereotype in movies. Why do you think that is?
What messages does the movie send about women who accept money for sex vs. the men who pay for sex?
- In theaters: September 7, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: September 9, 2003
- Cast: Melanie Griffith, Michael Patrick Carter, Ed Harris
- Director: Richard Benjamin
- Studio: Paramount Home Media Distribution
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: for sexual themes and situations involving adolescents
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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