B-Movies of our Youth: Taking Care of Business (1990) Review
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Movie Name: Taking Care of Business
Producer: Geoffrey Taylor
Director: Arthur Hiller
Actors: James Belushi, Charles Grodin, Anne De Salvo, Mako, Veronica Hamel, Héctor Elizondo
Release Date: August 17th, 1990
Budget: $14 Million
Box Office: $20 Million
I rented this movie recently as I had not watched it in a very long time. I never realized how many mainstream movies came out in the late 80's and early 90's that have the same premise of someone taking over the identity of someone else. Although the circumstances are different the core of the story is the same.
This is a fun fact, this movie was one of the first movies written by J.J Abrams. He is known for such movies as Mission Impossible III, Star Trek (Reboot) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Let us see if this one stacks up to those other movies that he helped to write.
You are first introduced to this convicted felon called Jimmy Dworski (played by James Belushi). He is a cook at the prison and he is absolutely loved by the other inmates. He hears on the radio that there is a quiz about the Chicago Cubs. In this movie, the Cubs are in the World Series and Jimmy could win tickets to a game. The Cubs have not won since 1908.
He dashes to find a phone and he answers the quiz correctly. He wins the tickets but there is one thing. he is in prison with only a few days left to his sentence before he would be released. So he needs to find a way of getting out without anyone noticing.
Also Jimmy is in the dog house with the Warden (played by Héctor Elizondo). He and the rest of the prison mates have lost their right to watch the Cubs on their TV's. With this, Jimmy comes with a plan that would both allow them to watch the game and escape without being noticed. The plan is to hold Jimmy "hostage", while he escapes. The plan works as Jimmy is seen at the airport.
While at the airport, jimmy finds an agenda with all the personal belongings of Spencer Barnes (played by Charles Grodin). Spencer is a workaholic and has all his belongings in that agenda. Basically for the majority of the movie, he tries to find that agenda and has a lot of bad luck.
In the meantime, Jimmy, finds the key to a mansion and basically plays the life of Spencer Barnes. While Spencer struggles, Jimmy is just living the life with no cares in the world. All he cares about is going to the Cubs World Series game. Since he is living the life of Spencer he goes to some high profile meetings. Most of them are headed by Diane Connors (played by Gates McFadden). Jimmy is not very diplomatic and leaves the dinner meeting to go on a date.
At one point both men (Spencer and Jimmy) meet. Spencer is not appreciative of what has happened. He truly believes that Jimmy has ruined his life. They do eventually become friends. At some point they end up in DIane Connors' office and the true identities of both men are revealed. Spencer ends up quitting his job.
At this point the Cubs have won the World Series. There is one thing though, Jimmy needs to break back in the prison. He never thought of that. Spencer has an idea of what to do. Jimmy dresses up as his mom and Spencer is a priest.
In the end, everything works out and Jimmy is released from jail. In addition to that, Spencer and Jimmy get hired by a food company which means Jimmy can have an actual job and be . paid and Spencer is not out of a job. The typical Hollywood ending.
Taking Care of Business - Trailer
Critics of the movie were not very nice upon its release and it still only has a 29% Rotten Tomatoes rating as of today. Is this movie as bad as the critics say?
I think that it is in the middle of the pack. This movie is part The Secret of My Success (1987) with Michael J Fox and Trading Places (1983) with Eddie Murphy. However, the movie does come out a little flat. It is not bad but it is not great either.
I know that James Belushi will always be in the shadow of his older brother John Belushi who died much too young. James has played in some decent movies in the 80's and 90's. He was good in K-9 (1989) and Red Heat (1988). This one however is not one of them.
Do not get me wrong, he does play the charismatic guy very well. You actually route for him during the movie. Charles Grodin also plays his role well. Where the movie falls flat is that the writing is lazy. The jokes that you see were done in the past and this movie does not add anything new to the table. as I mentioned in the introduction, there were a bunch of movies like Opportunity Knocks (1990) and The Secret of My Success (1987) that have done this identity switcheroo thing. This one I believe is the weaker of the bunch.
Although it was a financial success technically, it did not do much at the box office. I am sure the bulk of the money was made on rentals. It could have been decent but for me it just lacked that little something. It is a middle of the pack comedy which fits well in the B-Movie category.
Rating: 3 convicts out of 5
What do you think? Was this movie good or not? Let us know below.