Stars: Melanie Griffith, Ed Harris, Michael Patrick Carter, Malcolm McDowell, Casey Siemaszko. Written by John Mattson. Directed by Richard Benjamin. Rated PG-13 for adult situations, profanity.

What could be more romantic than having a suburban widower meet and fall in love with a big city prostitute? And who could possibly be a better mother to the widower's son than such a woman? These are just a couple of the questions that the inept romantic-comedy "Milk Money" (from the director of the inept romantic-comedy "Made in America") attempts to answer. Never mind that Melanie Griffith, who plays the prostitute, is getting a little long-in-the-tooth to still be playing sexpots.

Frank Wheeler (Michael Patrick Carter) and his friends Brad and Kevin may have only recently discovered the charms of the opposite sex, but that doesn't mean they aren't already preoccupied with female anatomy. They scrounge together a little over a hundred dollars (mostly from milk money, hence the film's title) that they're hoping they can use to see a real live naked lady. They hop on their bikes and head off to the big city but find themselves unable to differentiate between hookers and other professional women.

Being a bit on the gullible side, the three friends trust a man they meet to take them to a naked woman. When this man takes them instead to a parking garage and attempts to rob them at gunpoint, he ends up getting stopped by a prostitute named V (Melanie Griffith) who whacks him with a car door. V then takes the young boys back to her apartment and allows them the pleasure of seeing her chest (off-camera, fortunately) in exchange for their hundred dollars. Frank declines to look, but the other two get an eye full.

When V's car stalls while dropping off the boys back at their homes, Frank allows her to sleep in his treehouse. He also somehow gets the idea in his head that V would make a perfect replacement for the mother who died giving birth to him. Because of a messy situation with her pimp (Casey Siemaszko) and his boss (Malcolm McDowell), V ends up staying in the suburban paradise for several days. She is introduced to Frank's father (Ed Harris) as being a math tutor and it's not long before cupid goes about doing his dirty work. Of course, the truth will come out sooner or later.

"Milk Money" is a sticky-sweet movie possessing a stock Hollywood Ending that you'll see coming eons before it actually arrives. The film relies on sophomoric humor of the kind that threatens to infringe on the copyrights held by TV's "Three's Company" sitcom. When Dad, still thinking V is a tutor, starts talking to her about math, she thinks that he is referring to sex and her real occupation. Har-de-har-har.

"Milk Money" also employs a twisted version of morality. Dad scarcely hesitates when he discovers that the object of his affection, a woman he barely knows, is a prostitute. The situation is made all the more suspect by the fact that V hasn't actually renounced her profession and has even attempted to trot out her shingle in the Norman Rockwell-ish town.

No doubt the makers of the film thought they had come up with a romantic crowd-pleaser on the order of "Pretty Woman". No such luck, though, for Melanie Griffith is no Julia Roberts.

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