The Money Tree

Age rating: 17 and older
Crippled by poverty, a wildly-inventive and good-hearted young man assumes his troubles are over when a money tree magically appears in the middle of his room. Little does he know his real troubles are just beginning - for this "free" money does not come without a cost.
Synopsis: In a world where money seems to be everywhere and everything, Joe Gold is the one type of person nobody wants to be – a poor one. This reality never used to be an issue for him, as he utilized a combination of intelligence and hard work to transcend his lack of privilege, attending a great university on scholarship, graduating at the top of his class and leaving campus with a gorgeous girlfriend, a solid group of buddies and an idea for a product that could change the lives of disadvantaged people around the world.

Four months later, however, with the invention still not complete and Joe down to his last few dollars, money finally becomes issue #1 in his life – especially after his girlfriend, fed up with his financial shortcomings, leaves him for a much wealthier former classmate. Joe’s college pals – rich in their own right and in love with the notion of flaunting it – try to help him out by offering inside information on a can’t-miss investment opportunity, one with a $5,000 buy-in fee that Joe obviously can’t even come close to affording. Thanks, guys. Sweet tip. Desperate to figure out a way to finish his invention (not to mention pay his rent, eat, etc.), Joe takes a job as a production assistant at CRP, a popular home shopping network whose wanted ad seems to purposefully, almost magically, float down to him one afternoon in Central Park. With its focus on product sales and development, CRP seems like the perfect fit for someone like Joe…until he actually starts working there and realizes that being a production assistant amounts to performing menial, and often embarrassing, tasks for a staggeringly minimal wage, one that will leave him with no extra cash to use on his invention.

Losing hope fast, and feeling limited by money unlike ever before, Joe goes for broke one day, begging for advice when he serendipitously runs into the famous inventor/salesman Gary LeBleu at the CRP studio. Gary, whose Kitchen Magician gadget is the hottest item on TV, initially seems intrigued by the prospect of exchanging ideas with a hungry, young inventor. However, his mood soon sours as it becomes clear that Joe’s focus is more on money than on “talking shop.” Undaunted, Gary tries to convince Joe that his situation is perhaps not as undesirable as he thinks. After all, money can do strange things to a man. Change who he is and what he values. Distract him from his dreams. Joe vehemently disagrees, maintaining that a little extra green is all he needs in his life. With a wink and a warning, Gary obliges Joe’s request, pulling an old penny out of Joe’s ear and handing it to him – a gesture Joe finds so insulting that, once back in his apartment, he tosses the penny with such force that it accidentally fractures his invention. Defeated once and for all, Joe collapses onto his bed, never noticing that the penny has found its way into a crack in his floorboards.

The next morning, Joe is astonished to find a small green branch with three $1 bills on it growing in the middle of his room. As if that’s not enough to chase away his doldrums, he also meets Rose Grant, the funny, grounded caretaker of CRP’s plants, with whom he forms an immediate bond that quickly blossoms into a loving relationship. Not surprisingly, Joe quickly realizes that there is a side benefit to having met Rose, as he is secretly able to glean information from her that he then uses to care for his money tree, which grows larger by the day. Stable and secure at last, Joe finally has the means necessary to complete his dream machine. Yet, just as he is about to use his newfound fortune to do so, he is forced to reveal the tree’s presence to his suspicious friends, who convince him that, while his dream is a noble one, he needs to seize the day and enjoy the tree as much as possible because, unlike the idea for his invention, this magical plant could vanish before they know it. The argument is very persuasive.

Thus, Joe embarks on a journey of excess and enjoyment that almost instantly thrusts his invention into the rearview mirror. And how could it not? For the first time in his life, he is able to buy and do whatever he wants whenever he wants. It’s like a dream come true. Eventually, however, that dream starts to spiral into a nightmare, overtaking Joe’s existence and threatening to cost him everything of real value in his life.

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