Stars: Brian Bonsall, Karen Duffy, Miguel Ferrer, James Rebhorn, Tone Loc, Jayne Atkinson, Michael Lerner, Rick Ducommun, Michael Faustino, Chris Demetral, Alex Zuckerman. Written by Blake Snyder & Colby Carr. Directed by Rupert Wainwright. Rated PG.

Disney, kicking themselves for not spawning the "Home Alone" movies, has come up with their answer to the kiddie flick megahits. Brian Bonsall, starring in his fourth feature film but best known to audiences as Michael J. Fox's younger brother on TV's "Family Ties" and as Lt. Worf's son on TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation", is more talented than counterpart Macaulay Culkin but has been given a much weaker vehicle in which to displays his talents. The plain truth is that "Blank Check" isn't funny according to any definition of the word.

11-year-old Preston Waters doesn't get much respect from family and friends. Brothers Ralph (Michael Faustino) and Damian (Chris Demetral) have just taken over a portion of his room, with dad's (James Rebhorn) consent, to start a business. Butch (Alex Zuckerman), Preston's conniving and blatantly condescending "friend", is constantly razzing him about his meager finances. Through a set of circumstances even more preposterous than those that would have a young boy fly off to New York City while his family headed south, Preston becomes the proud owner of a blank check signed by a very rude, but momentarily wealthy, ex-con named Quigley (Miguel Ferrer).

Unaware that the funds actually exist to back such an amount, Preston fills in the amount of $1 million dollars on the check, with the recipient labelled as cash. Bank executive Biderman (Michael lerner) mistakes the boy for Quigley's bagman, Juice (Tone Loc), and forks over the requested amount in bundles of cash. Using his newfound wealth, Preston sets about to secure for himself all of the things he has until recently vainly hoped for, including the gothic mansion down the street from his parents' house and truckloads of some of the neatest and most expensive toys the world has even seen.

Preston convinces his parents to allow him to spend time at the mansion by claiming that it belongs to a Mr. MacIntosh and that Preston is now his employee. This ruse even fools a pretty twentysomething bank teller who "dates" Preston in order to find out about his boss. Things seem to be going great until Quigley, Biderman, and Juice finally find out where Preston lives. Naturally Quigley would like to get his money back, but he stands little chance of retrieving it before it's all spent.

"Blank Check" is such a blatant rip-off of the "Home Alone" movies, I'm surprised there isn't a lawsuit pending over the matter. Although the storyline has been altered, it's a terribly thin disguise. There's the familiar shopping spree, the limousine rides, the gorging on junk food, the lying to adults, the eventual disenchantment with loneliness and, of course, the painful traps set for the evil-doers.

But that's where the similarities end. "Home Alone" took these elements and made them fun and occasionally funny. "Blank Check", which has duplicated the form but not the substance, is a disturbingly inept retread. You'll enjoy this film's antics as much as you'd enjoy a swift kick to the head. "Out of Africa" was a funnier movie. Consider yourself warned.

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