ONE FOR THE MONEY
*1/2 (out of 5)
January 27, 2012
Katherine Heigl as STEPHANIE PLUM
Jason O’Mara as JOE MORELLI
Sherri Shepherd as LULA
Debbie Reynolds as GRANDMA MAZUR
Daniel Sunjata as RANGER
Patrick Fischler as VINNIE PLUM
John Leguizamo as JIMMY ALPHA
Directed by: Julie Anne Robinson
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Believe it or not, there was actually a time when I liked Katherine Heigl. This was back in the day before she became famous, playing the teenage daughter of Gérard Depardieu in “My Father the Hero” and the teenage daughter of Steven Seagal in “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.” And then there was her brilliant turn of acting in “Bride of Chucky.”
Heck, I even liked Heigl in “Knocked Up” and when she started out in “Grey’s Anatomy.” But it was her success, mainly from “Grey’s Anatomy” and on the shoulders of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen in “Knocked Up,” that revealed her to be a stuck up, arrogant, entitled and obnoxious wannabe movie star.
As you can tell, this will probably turn out to more of a hit piece on Katherine Heigl than a full-blown review of “One for the Money.” But I think that’s fair. After all, Heigl’s name is all over the movie’s credits, including naming herself and another Heigl as producers. If she’s going to make this movie as much about her as anyone else, why not make the review as much about her as anything else?
“One for the Money” is the first adaptation of Janet Evanovich’s extremely popular book series about Stephanie Plum, a single woman from New Jersey who has to become a bounty hunter to make ends meet. In this film installment in the series, Plum stumbles across a bigger murder mystery and conspiracy when she tries to take down an old boyfriend of hers who jumped bail.
First, let’s deal with the non-Heigl aspects of the film. The story’s okay. It’s not great or a work of genius, but I can see how it became a best-selling light read for housewives across the country. In fact, seeing how the story shook out will lead me to suggesting to my wife that she check out the books. I think she’ll really enjoy them. The characters seem to have some spunk, and it’s not heavy literature.
And judging by the smattering of people in the audience where I saw this, and the fact that they were all women in their 50s and older, sometimes with their husband in tow, it seems that the books’ fans will enjoy the movie… if they can stomach what I can only refer to as “The Heigl.”
Ultimately, “One for the Money” could work as a Lifetime TV movie if it got a punched up script. After all, eye-rolling lines like “We’re ancient history, like the pyramids” is given to the audience not once, but twice. And with Jason O’Mara calling The Heigl “cupcake” throughout the film, along with nauseatingly cliche narration by The Heigl, the movie quickly grated on my nerves.
There are other problems with the script that most likely evolved in the adaptation stage. A lot of focus is put on Plum’s family, gathering around the dinner table with what is meant to be the hilarity of family dysfunction. However, these scenes are awkwardly shot and achingly unfunny. Additional plot elements come out of nowhere, including Plum chasing down other fugitives and her family knowing people who amazingly reveal breaks in the larger case. This is just lazy writing.
A few months ago, 20th Century Fox released the film “What’s Your Number?,” starring Anna Faris and Chris Evans. That film was not terribly well written and had many problems. However, the charm of Faris and Evans raised its quality to a certain level, to the point that I actually enjoyed it. I remember saying that if The Heigl was the star, it would have been unbearable.
Well, maybe if Anna Faris played Stephanie Plum, I would have liked this better. Unfortunately, everything that is wrong with “One for the Money” is the result of her.
The Heigl struggles with the New Jersey accent, eventually pulling it off but not offering a shred of believability for her as a spunky Trentonite who’s fallen on hard times. She fails to elicit any sympathy from the audience, and she’s terribly boring on screen. Were it not for her tight shirts that show off her ample chest, nothing would be worth looking at.
In the end, whether you like this movie depends on your tolerance level for The Heigl. And for me, that tolerance is as low as her career has been slipping lately.