Finder’s Fee Movie (2001)

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Director Jeff Probst

Producer Brad Van Arragon, Katy Wallin, Shawn Williamson

Written by Jeff Probst

Story by Jim Gulian

Cinematography Francis Kenny

Editor Brian Berdan

Distribution Lions Gate Entertainment

Music Rob King, B.C. Smith

Genre Drama, Thriller

Runtime 100 min

Country United States

Language English


Actor Movie Character

  • Ryan Reynolds Quigley
  • Erick Palladino Tepper
  • Matthew Lillard Fishman
  • Dash Mihok Bolan
  • James Earl Jones Avery Phillips
  • Carly Pope Carla
  • Frances Bay Mrs. Darmsetter
  • Robert Forster Officer Campbell


On a rainy night, Tepper (Erick Palladino) is walking home when he finds a lost wallet. It is just a typical poker night for him except that this time he plans to propose to his girlfriend during the game break. Having found the wallet, he phones the owner, Avery Phillips (James Earl Jones), and reports it found.

Moments later, Tepper discovers that the wallet contained a lottery ticket worth $6 million. His friends, Fishman (Matthew Lillard), Bolan (Dash Mihok), Quigley (Ryan Reynolds) arrive but Tepper is hesitant of revealing the card to them.

Phillips finally shows up to pick the wallet but Tepper is sweating over the stranger’s reluctance to leave. Fishman asks Phillips to join them in the game. Fishman is so good at it and he hits bull’s eyes with ease. Unfortunately, the police cordon off the whole building for investigations. They are all forced to spend the night at the place.

The police begin a door to door search and Phillips decides to hide in the washroom. Officer Campbell finally gets him and after a brief interrogation, he finds no reason to arrest him.

Tepper pulls out of the game claiming that he forgot to purchase enough tickets. However, Phillips notes that Tepper was hiding something. They later proceed to playing the game after solving the little misunderstanding. Guilt slowly eats up Tepper as the game proceeds and everyone notes something fishy with him. Tepper then unfairly wins the game and he takes all the tickets at stake.

Quigley (Ryan Reynolds) hits Phillips at the head with a blunt object after noticing his ticket was worth $6,000. Tepper’s girlfriend later shows up but they can’t open up the door since Phillips is badly wounded. She later leaves breaking up with Tepper. It is later revealed that Tepper actually cheated during the game.

Officer Campbell later arrives in response to an emergency call from the room. Phillips later covers up Quigley’s act to the police. Tepper gives Officer Campbell the $6,000 winning ticket and asks him to safely escort Phillips at home.

However, the officer takes it and asks Phillips to head to the police station if he rightfully acquired the ticket. His friends leave agitated by Tepper’s gesture of honesty. He had actually pranked them all and he later gives the actual card to Avery Phillips. Phillips heads out of the house with a lot of joy.

Tepper then tries to make up to his girlfriend by calling her. Moments later, the real Avery Phillips shows up to pick the card claiming that the number he had called belonged to his brother.


Watching this movie pops out so many questions to the viewer. The biggest star to the film is the script. Characterized by so many twists and turns, the film is so engaging to the end. The backdrop is majorly a New York apartment but the events totally fit in. Based on a story by Jim Gulian the producer successfully brings the script to us in a more realistic way.

Were it not for the credible casting, the acting would never be any better. Tepper acts the honest bachelor ready to propose to his girlfriend. He even puts his relationship at stake so as to mend his wrong deeds. Fishman is the bossy, gambling addicted and smelly friend who thinks he knows it all. His greed and addiction to gambling always puts him on the losing end.

Phillips is a former fireman currently working as a bus driver. It proves a lucky day for him in all dimensions. It is his daughter’s birthday, he got a winning ticket and he finally gets the wallet back. His wise words and knowledge of the game completely match his age. His ironic laugh at the end was just funny.

Officer Campbell is just like a vast majority of the corrupt cops. He pretends to be the moral one with his fluent speeches but when the ticket is brought up, his greed betrays him. The rest of the cast also took up to their roles exceptionally well.

The dialogue in the film was outstanding. The bond between the friends is so strong and they even gang up to attack Phillips. The virtue of honesty is highly illustrated in the film. Tepper tries to conceal the winning card which is what many would do. The producer expertly fits in many scenarios that force Phillips to spend the night at Tepper’s.

A raining night, police inspection, and it was even a gambling night for the boys. The film also featured songs from artists like Cockeyed Ghost, Freeloaders, Agents of Good Roots and Dual Eden. Teppper plays his favorite romantic mix tape in an attempt to win Carla back.


The film won the Golden Space Needle Award. Producer Probst also won the best Screenplay (Feature Film) at the 2001 Method Fest Independent Film Festival. Such accolades do not come for nothing. The movie was such a revelation to me and I would recommend it to any viewer. A rating of 6.4 out of a possible 10 would be my take.

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