The Penny Promise

Reviewed By Michelle C. Danko
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: G
Released: October 28, 2001
Cast: Scott Christopher, Bobby Edner, Jennifer Capo, Lawrence Lau, and Bruce Newbold.
Production Company: Movies 99

Will Duncan is the most honest person you could ever meet. He has purposefully chosen not to lie- not even a hint of deceit will leave his lips. With Will, a promise is just as sacred as the truth. He will always keep his word- even when the task seems impossible.
Will loves Annie Farnsworthy who comes from a wealthy family. He wants to marry Annie, and goes to her father for his blessing. He, however, doesn’t think that Will is good enough for his daughter, and he wants her to marry George Hampton, a wealthy, driven, successful school superintendant. He will do anything in his power to prevent Annie from marrying Will and does so by having Will make another promise. Will has to save $10,000 or 10,000 pennies before he will allow him to marry Annie. He figures that, since Will is a science teacher that it will take him forever to raise the money. By the time Will saves $10,000, he hopes that Annie will finally “see the light” and marry George.
Together with his wife, they put a plot in motion to get Annie and George together. But at what cost?
Will, in an attempt to gain the money necessary to marry Annie ends up doing odd jobs, and selling off his antiques. Yet every time he seems to get ahead, he suffers a setback. From loosing his job to ruining a painting, Will just can’t seem to save any money. No worries, though, as Will figures that it will somehow happen.
Meanwhile, Annie’s brother, Dustin just entered High School. He wants to be in with the popular crowd. The head of the group is George’s son who delights in messing with the young boy. Dustin in an attempt to fit in wants to buy an expensive jacket. However, when he goes to his dad, he gets the speech that he should earn it himself and a discussion on the importance of hard work. In his desperation, he goes to the department store and is going to shoplift the jacket, but decides at the last minute not to, and puts the jacket back. The store manager, who happens to be George’s son, catches everything on tape- but not Dustin returning the jacket.
In an attempt to get Dustin to comply with a plot from George to frame Will, his son accepts Dustin into the group. To celebrate, he gives Dustin a jacket… and an initiation. Dustin has to use another kid to “catch a phone robber” who will, coincidentally be a framed Will.
Dustin unknowingly complies, and sets the plot in motion against his friend Will. The night of the initiation was the night that Will was to take out Annie and her parents as a celebration. Dustin comes over to visit shortly before Will leaves, and discovers a sizeable amount of money hidden in a globe. Dustin tells Will to keep it- it’s his money. The globe was sold to Will by George who took it from the previous owners, and Will tells Dustin that he can’t accept the money- that it belongs to someone. He intends to ask George who it belongs to so that he can return it.
Things go from bad to worse in Will’s life when George’s plot is put into motion that night. On the way to the restaurant to meet Annie and her parents, Will sees someone who is robbing a phone booth. He scares away the criminal, and notices the money all over the booth. He leaves a note for the police, gathers the money, and intends on reporting it after leaving the restaurant. Dustin’s friend enters the scene, and instead of catching the actual phone robber, he comes across Will gathering the money for the police. Assuming that Will is the robber (amongst other things), he goes to the police.
Will goes on to the restaurant to meet Annie wherein he sees her with George who “just happened to be dining” there. Angrily, he confronts them. Forgetting that he put his gerbil in his pocket, the gerbil escapes and walks on George who shrieks in terror. This causes quite a commotion in the restaurant and coupled with Dustin’s friend’s report to the police, Will is soon arrested.
In a series of events, what should have been a misdemeanor turns into more serious charges being laid when the money in the globe goes missing and the owners show up. Will didn’t take it, and doesn’t know where it went. Will he find it in time? Will he be imprisoned for an act that he didn’t commit? Will he loose Annie to a deceitful George?
More importantly, will the guilty parties come forth and tell the truth?

I loved the message of The Penny Promise, and I think it is an important one to get across to children. The message is the importance of telling the truth and always doing the right thing. Will tells Dustin that if he is faithful with little, he will be faithful with much. He says that it is the little things that we do that really define us. The viewer also learns that sometimes telling the truth can be hard, but it is better to be honest and live without fear because you have nothing to hide. There is a freedom in being truthful.
The plot is delightful and funny. It draws the viewer in immediately and you find yourself “rooting for the underdog”. Also, I appreciated the values wherein Will and Annie were courting, and saving their first kiss for marriage. The father wouldn’t have it any other way!
There isn’t anything in this movie to really be aware of. There is almost a shoplifting incident, but Dustin does the right thing in the end. It is a really enjoyable movie to watch as a family, and I would highly recommend it!

Many thanks to Debi Nelson from for allowing us to review the movie! The Penny Promise can be purchased on their website for $19.95 USD