One for the Money Review
One for the Money Movie Review
One for the Money, starring Katherine Heigl, is a hybrid movie, combining romantic comedy, mystery, and a little suspense. If you are looking for a suspense filled mystery, or a steamy romantic love story, this movie will disappoint you. But if you think you might enjoy Katherine Heigl, as a tough, sarcastic yet vulnerable bounty hunter, along with a fair amount of humor and a cartoon like cast of secondary characters, you can have a good time at this movie.
The Plot of the Stephanie Plum Movie
The One for the Money movie, based on a the first novel of a series of best selling books by Janet Evanovich, features Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. Stephanie has been out of work for six months, laid off as a lingerie sales manager at Macy's. She would rather do anything than marry the man her mother thinks would fix things, so she goes to work for her sleazy cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, who hires her on to collect some of his clients who have skipped out.
Stephanie begins to learn the trade under the mentoring of Ranger, played by Daniel Sunjata, who despite being genuinely macho, takes her under his wings, and takes her to target practice. Stephanie quickly becomes obsessed with bringing in Joe Morelli, a vice cop who is on the lamb, after allegedly shooting an unarmed man when he was off duty. She has two big reasons to focus on Morelli's case. One reason is the 50K she can earn as her commission, and the other is that he is still as attractive as when she lost her virginity to him.
A cast of supporting characters includes Debby Reynolds as Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur, Patrick Fishler, as Cousin Vinnie, and Sherri Shepherd as Lulu, a prostitute who becomes Stephanie's sidekick. Of the three, Shepherd puts in the most memorable performance, while Grandma Mazur is disappointingly unconvincing, especially for those who wanted Betty White to play the role.
A Chick Flick or a Whodunnit?
This movie was directed by a female, Julie Ann Robinson, and based on a book by Janet Evanovich. The sceenwriters include a team that includes three women, Stacey Sherman, Liz Brixuis, and Karen Ray, while Katherine Heigl had a role in the production. With so many women at the heart of the production, you would expect that the romantic comedy elements might be stronger than the whodunnit, and you would be right. Indeed the whodunnit part of the Evanovich novels became increasingly absurd as the sequels progressed and it was the tension in the romantic triangle between Plum, Ranger and Morelli that sustained the series.
In the movie the triangle does not get established in any depth, and most of the romantic tension was between Heigel and Omara. While Omara did not- in this reviewers opinion - seem very likable or compelling as the leading man, Sujata's Ranger pleasantly surprised, and clearly upstaged Omara. While he bore no resemblance to the Ranger of The Evanovich series, he was more appealing than Morelli, and was a strong but understated version of Ranger.
The mystery was not really the point of the story and simply provided the main reason for the "lady in jeopardy" pretext for suspense. It mostly gives Morelli and Ranger excuses to protect and flirt with Plum. And while Plum was, in the novel both tough and vulnerable, Heigl's portrayal makes her a little more inept and girlish than is needed, although this does permit her character to develop to a strong finish.
If You Loved the Stephanie Plum Novels
If you loved the novels by Janet Evanovich, you might be disappointed by this movie, as Evanovich is a master craftsman with witty sarcastic dialogue, while the movie was written by a committee, none of whom have Evanovich's talent. Some of the characters are too cartoonish, while the ones Evanovich conjured made you feel as if you had lived in Jersey all your life.
Morelli was more testosterone and action figure, at least as played by Jason Omara, than the good cop with a protective heart that the novels portray. While Sunjata's Ranger is not as mysterious, he is commandingly strong and convincingly able, in a more understated but effective way.
The movie left out too much in its effort to be commercial, so motivations tended to be way too shallow, and you don't have the chance for romantic tensions to develop so they rely more on sexual tensions. Suspense never even matters.
All in all I found the movie still to be entertaining even though I am a fan of the series and prefer the books to the movie. If you check your expectations at the ticket window, and just enjoy the movie, it can be a fun and entertaining movie but not a Stephanie Plum novel. Heigl puts in a capable performance (with the exception of her Jersey accent) but not one that will define her career, like it might have done, had she risen to the opportunity presented to her by this larger than life role. Good isn't good enough for Stephanie Plum skippy.
Three and one half stars are about right for this One for the Money Movie.