THE COIN DEALER: A movie review parody

by Steve Zieba

Rating: H

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you, The Coin Dealer promises a lively fare of excitement and good times.

It's the story of a small-time dealer, Joe Blo, trying to make it big in the coin business. Aspiring to be a full-time dealer and leave his mundane job as a septic system repairman behind, Joe sets out on the show circuit in hopes of making it big. "I just gotta try something to get ahead," says Joe, "to be like all those people others look up to." It is through his purchaser's eyes that we see the transformation from small-time dealer to market maker.

The story sounds like one of those classic boy makes good tales so popular in American folklore. Unfortunately, The Coin Dealer fails to deliver on its promise. The Pollyanna storyline is transparent, as are the efforts to make Joe appear as the swashbuckling, self-sacrificing hero working solely for his clients' benefit. Joe's platitudes that the hobby would be nothing without him are shallow and self-serving.

All this pretentiousness undermines the credibility of the entire production, as does an inconsistent supporting cast. Especially troubling is fellow dealer/mentor Sam. Cast as a grizzled veteran of the bourse, he is meant to be Joe's role model and guiding light. But upon closer examination, Sam comes off merely as a clever operator out to make a fast buck. After selling an item of dubious authenticity to an unwitting collector, Joe privately asks for advice. Sam's response, "Let the buyer worry about that," rather than being gritty, is just cynical.

After awhile, the pace begins to plod as our intrepid dealers go from one bourse to another. Even more monotonous is the constant refrain of "I paid xxx for that, so I need xxx for it." when offering overpriced wares to the public. Are we meant to believe experienced collectors can be duped into parting with their money by the use of this tired incantation? Apparently so.

Just as bad are the so-called collectors, made to appear as miserly bargain hunters or dim-bulb automatons. Even worse is the climax, really an anticlimax, where Joe, the former collector turned dealer expresses his disillusionment with the hobby, "I thought I'd really feel something good, but now I don't feel nothing." Unfortunately, many viewers can say the same thing.

What token humor there is in this production is culled from obsolete releases and definitely not current. With few exceptions, individual performances fail to make the grade. Simply put, The Coin Dealer is a bust.

Copyright © 1993, The Willamette Coin Club. All Rights Reserved.