On a rainy night, convicted bank robber Carl Quigley (Miguel Ferrer) escapes from prison and heads to a warehouse to recover a hidden safe box containing $1,000,000, which he hid there sometime before his arrest. It is not established exactly how he obtained the money.
The film then cuts to 11-year-old Preston Waters (Brian Bonsall), whose father (James Rebhorn) works as an investor for a living and is very frugal with money — so much so that when Preston is given a blank check from his grandmother for his birthday, his dad fills it out for only $11.00. When invited to classmate Butch's birthday party at an amusement park, Preston doesn't want to go because Butch acts more like a bully than a friend (unbeknownst to Preston's parents) and because Preston's father only gave him enough money for tokens to go on the kiddie rides.
Quigley visits bank president Edward Biderman (Michael Lerner) in his bank office to discuss his plan, threatening Biderman's family if he does not comply with it. Quigley leaves Biderman the stolen money, as the bills were consecutive and traceable, telling Biderman his plan to swap the stolen bills without suspicion. Quigley explains that his assistant and right-hand man, Juice (Tone Loc) will be stopping by Biderman's office with a check to be cashed for $1,000,000 the next day at 1:00 P.M.
After the meeting, Quigley runs over Preston's bicycle in a Jaguar XJ while Preston was riding out of the bank's parking lot chasing after Butch who stole his birthday check. Pressed for time as he sees a police car patrolling the area, Quigley, posing as a realtor, gives Preston a signed blank check and tells him to give it to his dad so they can buy him a new bike. Instead, Preston fills out the check for $1,000,000 by printing it on his computer. He goes to the bank the next day and is directed to Biderman's office by a teller (as the teller thought Preston was joking and she could not cash a check that size herself). Thinking that Preston is Quigley's assistant, Juice, Biderman cashes his check with $1,000,000 from a safe behind a painting.
As Preston is leaving the bank, the real Juice enters Biderman's office with another check for $1,000,000. Realizing that Biderman mistook Preston for Juice, the trio begins a frantic search for Preston. Meanwhile, he embarks on an extreme shopping spree over the course of 6 days, buying a castle-style house (by outbidding Quigley using the voice box on his computer over the phone) along with many other expensive items (limousine service, go-kart track, water slide, etc.). He spends $999,667.83 of the original $1,000,000. Preston covers himself by saying he is making these purchases for a millionaire known as "Macintosh" (named after the brand of Preston's computer) who lives in the castle house. He also makes friends with his limo driver Henry.
The entire time, Preston was being investigated by FBI agent Shay Stanley (Karen Duffy) (working undercover as a teller at Biderman's bank and Preston's crush) for money laundering, as the bills he was using to make his purchases were Biderman's watermarked ones.
At a birthday party Preston throws for Mr. Macintosh that forced him into debt (it was actually his birthday) leaving only $332.17 in his account, he is forced into a showdown with Quigley, Juice and Biderman. After the trio manage to capture him and demand to know what happened with the money, he admits Macintosh is a false name, to which Biderman suggests that Quigley can use Preston's purchases and the Macintosh name to give himself a new identity.
When the trio is confronted by the FBI at Preston's castle house, Quigley claims to be Macintosh. However, with the FBI knowing that Mr. Macintosh had been using the watermarked bills, they arrest Quigley, Juice and Biderman. Shay kisses Preston before parting ways and Preston and Henry say their farewells. After Preston gets home his family throws him a birthday party. His father apologizes for being so harsh with him when it came to money. Preston's family surprises him with a cake and ask him to make a wish. Preston thinks he already has everything he wished for, until he sees Shay's flyer at the bank and decides to make a wish about her.Brian Bonsall as Preston Waters
Karen Duffy as Shay Stanley
Miguel Ferrer as Carl Quigley aka Mr. Macintosh
Tone Lōc as Juice
Michael Lerner as Edward Biderman
James Rebhorn as Fred Waters
Jayne Atkinson as Sandra Waters
Michael Faustino as Ralph Waters
Chris Demetral as Damien Waters
Rick Ducommun as Henry
Maxwell Strachan as Quincy Carmichael
Alex Zuckerman as Butch
Alex Morris as Riggs
Debbie Allen as Yvonne
Mary Chris Wall as Betty Jay
Angee Hughes as Woman in Parking Lot
Frank Williamson as Preston's computer (Macintosh)
The movie was filmed in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. The castle house that Preston buys was filmed at 1415 Wooldridge Drive in Austin, which is now owned by filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. The theme park in the beginning of the movie was Six Flags Fiesta Texas; several of the park's attractions, including The Rattler and Power Surge, were filmed in this movie. The bank featured in the movie is in the historic Alamo National Bank building. The Bank lobby was featured and it has a 23-story office tower above it. The building opened in 1929 and today houses the Drury Plaza Hotel.
The film got poor reviews, with Peter Rainer of The Los Angeles Times stating that what was "missing from this film is any trace of the joy in simple pleasures. Preston isn't a very imaginative child; he's a goodies gatherer." Janet Maslin of The New York Times said that it "looks like the best bet for family audiences in a season short on kiddie-oriented entertainment. And it's a movie that no parents in their right minds should let children see." The Chicago Tribune stated that "[w]ith its contrived plot, its MTV-inspired montages and its blatant shilling for products, it is film as hard sell, and it comes with a decidedly suspect warranty. Its mercantile instincts are so primary it looks like an infomercial." It currently holds a 13% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews.
Blank Check debuted at No. 3 at the box office behind Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Getaway with $5.4 million in its opening weekend. In total, the film went on to gross $30.5 million domestically in North America.