One for the Money -- A Movie Review
Katherine Heigl is Stephanie Plum
When I sit down to read a book, I like to be entertained. I like my romance served with a little bit of adventure and suspense. Throw in a little humor along with it and I’m hooked. That is why I’ve stuck with author Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum throughout seventeen of her crazy adventures as a Trenton, New Jersey bounty hunter.
I haven’t gotten around to reading Explosive Eighteen yet, but I’ve definitely been looking forward to the January 28, 2012 release of One for the Money, the movie starring Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. In spite of other reviews to the contrary, I think Heigl pulled it off pretty well. Stephanie Plum definitely came to life on the big screen. I thought it was cast just right. Great job, Katherine!
When I first read the announcement that Heigl had been chosen to play Stephanie Plum, it appeared that some readers were opposed to Heigl. Many stated that, if she were playing the part, they weren’t going to see it. Too bad for them. I jumped at the opportunity to see one of my favorite characters come to life, and of course, I wanted to see if Heigl made it happen.
In the series, Stephanie Plum is a thirtyish woman from the Chambersburg ("the Burg") area of Trenton, New Jersey. After she loses her job, has her car repossessed and is about to be evicted from her apartment, Stephanie is desperate for work. She ends up at cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds office and begs for work. She finds out there is a $50,000 payout for bringing in Joe Morelli. Morelli is a local cop and the guy who took Stephanie’s virginity on the floor of a pastry shop back in high school -- and who didn’t have the decency to call her afterwards. She blackmails Vinnie into giving her the case and off she goes, beginning a lucrative series of books for Evanovich and a movie for Heigl. With the setting being in one of the most ethnically diverse areas of New Jersey that also has a Mafia presence, there is no lack of strange plots and goofy characters to draw from. The movie stays true to Evanovich’s book.
But This Guy is Irish!
Just because I think Heigl worked as Stephanie Plum, that is not to say that I think the casting in One for the Money was good. I was disappointed on several fronts. On the way out of the theater, I told my daughter, who has never read the series, that I was disappointed in the casting of Jason O’Mara as hunky Joe Morelli. Another movie patron in front of me turned around and said, “Me too!” We agreed that, while O’Mara is definitely built, he didn’t fit the picture in our heads of the Burg’s resident hunky and handsome local (and Italian-American) bad boy turned good cop, turned bad boy. To be fair, during most of the movie, he was on the run and, naturally, looked pretty scruffy. Maybe I just didn’t feel the chemistry between the two characters until right up at the very end of the movie, and even then, it was fleeting. Not to say O'Mara isn't hunky, he just isn't Morelli. Who does fit the bill? I’d like to hear some suggestions.
Debbie Reynolds as Grandma???
When we read a story, we use our imaginations and we do have a picture in our heads of what the characters look like. Maybe when casting a movie from a novel, actual readers should get to vote from a list of contenders. I would have never ever cast Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur. In my head, Stephanie’s spunky grandma was very similar to Estelle Getty, Dorothy’s spunky mother on Golden Girls. I can imagine Estelle whipping a gun out of her purse and shooting a roasted chicken off the table, but it is a real stretch to even see Debbie Reynolds doing it. Yes, I know that Getty has passed on, but her spunky memory has remained. Wasn’t there someone, anyone else, who could take her place?
I Love Lula
Lula is a prostitute in the One for the Money, who, after being beat up for giving information to Stephanie Plum, decided to give up the business. Though we didn’t get nearly enough, Sherri Sheperd as over-the-top Lula was a great match. Lula doesn’t really come into her own in the first book, so I’m hoping for a sequel so we can see what Sheperd can really do with Lula's character. Still, the few minutes that she was on, she hit it. When Jackie, another prostitute on Lula’s corner, played by Ryan Michelle Bathe, berates her for giving Stephanie information in exchange for some snacks, she says, “What? I’m hon-gry!” The way she said it nailed it for me and brought Lula straight from the book to life on the big screen.
Vincent Plum, owner of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, both Stephanie’s cousin and employer was also miscast, at least in my mind. Patrick Fischler was Vinnie in the movie, but in my head, Danny DiVito has always been the star in the role. In the book, Vincent Plum is often described as a weaselly and grouchy little man, who has some strange sexual fetishes. I think DiVito would have been perfect and would have added some dimension to Fischler’s portrayal of Vincent’s character, as brief as his appearance was. When a series has eighteen books to its credit, the casting director needs to think long term success, not one hit wonder.
Daniel Sunjata as Ranger
Bring It On!
Last, but not least, Ranger’s character was played by Daniel Sunjata. He is another character that figures prominently in the series, but not so much in the first book, which the movie is based on. Ranger is a bail bondsman who is easing out of the bounty hunter biz to start a security company, but he tries to show Stephanie the ropes of being a bounty hunter. There wasn’t really enough interaction in this movie for me to really decide if the casting was right on in this case. There is no doubt that Sunjata has his hunk on. It remains to be seen how it translates to chemistry with Heigl in a sequel, however hard it is to imagine anyone not having chemistry with this one. If there is a sequel, I’ll be there to see it. Sure, I think the movie is going to be snubbed by the Golden Globes next year, but sometimes all we want is a little light-hearted entertainment. Bring it on!