One For the Money is silly, at times charming, fun. Unevenly paced but charmingly and energetically carried by Katherine Heigl, it’s harmless and worth the rental or streaming fee for a date night.
Here’s a trailer:
Released January 27, 2012
Written by Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray, and Liz Brixius. Based on the novel by Janet Evanovich
Directed by Julie Ann Robinson
Starring Katherine Heigl, Sherri Shepherd, Debbie Reynolds, Ana Reeder, Debra Monk, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, and Fisher Stevens
* * * * *
Stephanie Plum (Heigl), a recently divorced lifelong New Jersey woman, has lost her job selling lingerie at Macy’s. Pretty much at the end of her rope, she learns that her cousin who runs a bail bonds business is looking for some help. She convinces him to let her try to bring in Joe Morelli (O’Mara), a cop who is accused of murder, and with whom she had a fling years before.
Cue the meet cutes and charming dialogue interplay. What’s nice is that both of the leads are having a good time and they bring a certain amount of spark to their scenes together.
Morelli is trying to clear his name and Plum is trying to get paid. But she has no clue what she’s doing, so a local super bounty hunter named Ranger (Sunjata) takes her under his wing and shows her how to shoot a gun, among other things. Slowly Plum begins to realize that Morelli might actually be innocent, and she is also very soon way over her head and people begin paying for her mistakes.
A climax that ends with perhaps a little too much serious violence for the, til-now, charming and light-hearted film resolves the mystery, with Plum’s sharp tongue and attitude carrying her through.
This is a harmless, charming film. Nowhere near as bad as most critics say, the audience who is interested in seeing One For the Money likely will have, or has had, a very entertaining experience. Katherine Heigl could do with some more meaty roles, but she takes on the role of acerbic but still very happy Stephanie Plum with energy and a great deal of charm– and it’s not hard to believe her. O’Mara is suitably gritty and grumpy, but his Irish charm comes through without much effort and he and Heigl have chemistry.
What more do you want from an action comedy that is far more heavy on the comedy than the action? The altogether simple plot with relatively easy to fathom villains enables the leads to drive action through their interplay and proactive behavior. With Plum narrating her actions, and the production value pretty seamlessly portraying a time from about a decade or more ago, this feels a bit like a light-hearted pot-boiler– which is a fair description of Evanovich’s novels.
Which is also the point. Fans of the novels will surely love this movie.
All of that said, there are some weaknesses. Firstly, Ranger seems too easy of a plot contrivance, too willing to help without any ulterior motive. He could have been given more time to be fleshed out as a person. The pacing is brisk, but a little choppy in places. Plum seems a little too gung-ho about getting into hairy situations– she seems incapable of comprehending her vulnerability. On the other hand, Heigl does a nice job portraying this woman who has no idea how to cope with danger competently.
All in all, this is a fun, entertaining, not-too-clever and somewhat innuendo-filled and in one case risque film. Not for everyone. If you’re looking for more action, try Lethal Weapon.
Content warnings: A little salty language, some violence, and a moment of not-quite-nudity.
Writing: 3.5 Acting: 4 Overall: 3.5
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