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  I believe in being honest, Brewster. No bullshit. I'm stuck with you. But... we're gonna have some fun.

Brewster's Millions is a novel written by George Barr McCutcheon in 1902; it's been adapted for the screen nine times. The most famous film version remains the 1985 film starring Richard Pryor and John Candy; the story had been adapted before in 1921, 1926 (with the protagonist changed to a woman), 1935, 1945, and 1961. A Hindi version produced in 1988 serves as a shot-by-shot Indianization of the 1985 film, and a Tamil version was produced in 1997. A play based on the story was created in 1906. The plot of this novel also formed the basis of an episode of It's Punky Brewster.

An impoverished young man by the name of Monty Brewster inherits a substantial amount of money from a long-lost relative -- and stands to further inherit a huge additional amount. (The total sum varies by time period, but to fit the title, it's always in the millions; in the Richard Pryor version, the original inheritance is $30 million and the full inheritance is $300 million.) The Will specifies one catch, however: Monty must waste the entire first amount in a limited period of time. He must end the challenge with no tangible assets whatsoever and keep the arrangement a secret from everyone else. Monty will win the full inheritance if he pulls it off, but if he breaks any of the rules or fails to spend the first amount in full, he inherits nothing.

As Monty feverishly starts hemorraging money as quick as possible, he soon realizes the truth of the matter: it's amazingly difficult to lose an incredible amount of money.


Brewster's Millions provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All or Nothing: The terms of the will force Brewster to either win everything or walk away with nothing.
  • Amoral Attorney: The lawyers in the 1985 film fall under this trope, as they're actively plotting to cheat Brewster out of his inheritance.
  • Animated Adaptation: Although no direct adaptations of the story itself have been made, the It's Punky Brewster episode "Punky's Millions" essentially takes the basic plot of this story and runs with it (with a few alterations, such as the cash amount becoming a game-show prize rather than an inheritance).
  • Brick Joke: in the Pryor film, when they said that, after the 30 days, all that will be left for Monty are the clothes on his back, they weren't kidding. Brewster had to put on the same baseball uniform that he was wearing before the challenge.
  • Consolation Prize: The 1985 film combines this with a reference to the original story, as the will offers a "wimp" clause for Brewster -- taking it would give him an even million dollars with no strings attached, but he'd be forced to walking away from the challenge.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Angela Drake (in the 1985 film) subverts this trope; she shows a softer side when Brewster begins to act more charitably, but her overall personality never truly changes, and she doesn't enter into a relationship with Brewster despite his best efforts.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Brewster's benefactor plays it straight, while Brewster himself merely invokes the trope, since he only appears to be extremely eccentric.
  • Jerkass Facade: Brewster may be a decent and good-hearted man, but since he can't tell anyone why he's doing what he's doing, he frequently comes off as an irresponsible jackass.
  • Just Between You and Me: In the 1985 film, Warren Cox spills the beans about the fix to Angela Drake in this manner; she then quickly informs Monty.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Angela does this in the 1985 film.
  • On One Condition: It's a doozy of a condition.
    • A few smaller conditions come with it, but they're meant to avoid Loophole Abuse: Brewster can't have any assets after the challenge (except for anything he owned before it began), he can't tell anyone what he's doing or why, he must get value for the services of anyone he hires, he can only spend a predetermined small percentage on charities and gambling, and he can't buy expensive goods and then destroy them or give them away to avoid having assets.
      • In the 1985 film, Brewster finds a loophole to purchasing assets: he buys a rare stamp, then mails it. Since he used it for its intended purpose, he didn't technically didn't give it away or destroy it.
        • Which leads to Fridge Logic, why didn't he just spend the entire $30 million on rare stamps and mail a bunch of letters?
  • Plague of Good Fortune: This trope seems to kick in for Brewster right when he doesn't want it to.
  • Race Against the Clock: This happens for most of the story, but in the 1985 film, it's openly invoked in the final scene as Angela writes a receipt for her services as a lawyer before the clock strikes midnight.
    • This trope applies twice in the Animated Adaptation, as the characters are forced to face one to get into the challenge in the first place.
  • Radish Cure: Giving someone millions of dollars and forcing them to spend it all within a short period of time might make them sick to the back teeth of both money and spending it. In the 1985 film, Monty's uncle says his father employed a Radish Cure to discourage him from smoking, which served as his motivation to force Monty to spend $30 million in 30 days -- and to forbid Brewster from telling his friends about the condition (since they'd help Brewster to fulfill the condition, and nobody helped Brewster's uncle with the smoking).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Edward Roundfield (played by Pat Hingle in the 1985 movie) officially acts as an independent observer with no claim or stake in the bet; he's brought in by the law firm to ensure the details of the will are carried out to the letter. He makes a point of being impartial, but in practice, he's clearly fond of Brewster and more sympathetic to his dilemma, since Brewster's a down-to-earth nice guy.
  • Self-Made Man: Monty's uncle, James T. Sedgwick, is one of these in the original novel.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Brewster tries to blow a load of money by betting on longshots, but the longshots storm home and make him even more money. When he tries to lose money by investing in a worthless stock, the stock's value skyrockets after everyone else buys in. In the 1985 film, he tries to waste it on a frivolous political campaign, but the voters are attracted to his message and almost vote for him (which would have left him with a job and a salary, thus nullifying the inheritance), so Monty convinces people to vote for "None of the Above" and eventually drops out of the race.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Brewster's great-uncle's video will in the 1985 film invokes this brilliantly; the editing makes it appear as if the two are sharing a direct back-and-forth dialogue.

 Rupert Horn: (in the video will) "So, here's my proposition: you have thirty days in which to spend thirty million bucks. If you can do it, you get three hundred million!"

Monty Brewster: (to himself) "There's gotta be a catch."

Rupert Horn: "Of course there's a catch!"

  • Unexpected Inheritance
  • Unwanted Rescue: Since Brewster can't tell his friends why he's trying to lose money, they frequently engage in well-meaning attempts to stem the flow by investing or saving it sensibly, much to Brewster's dismay. This is subverted by an accountant who cheerfully reveals the deposit Brewster forgot about on a furniture rental, seemingly to cheer him up (the accountant subverts this by virtue of setting up the forgotten deposit in order to help the amoral bankers cheat Monty out of the inheritance).
  • Video Wills: Brewster's great-uncle uses one to deliver his challenge in the 1985 film.
  • Will: The will of Brewster's great-uncle drives the plot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The 1985 film ends abruptly, so viewers never find out what happened to any of Brewster's former friends or employees. It's probably safe to assume they'll be set for the forseeable future with the hundreds of thousands of dollars Brewster was paying them (and the film outright shows Spike becoming a multi-millionaire thanks to the ultra-exorbitant salary Brewster paid him and several commissions and investments).
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: In the 1985 film, two partners of the law firm that represents Brewster's great-uncle try to cheat Brewster out of his inheritance so the firm will inherit the estate (which would net the partners a rather sizeable fee from the $300 million before it's divided up to various charities). As time runs out on Brewster's chance to earn the inheritance, Angela informs Monty of the scheme; this causes Brewster to punch the accountant who was bribed by the partners into attempting to defraud Brewster. When threatened with a lawsuit, Brewster retains Angela as his lawyer for $20,000 (the exact amount of money keeping him from earning his inheritance) and gets a receipt written for the amount -- completing the challenge and earning his inheritance -- just as the clock strikes midnight.
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