Film review: One for the Money ***
Despite taking its title from Blue Suede Shoes, this movie sadly fails to rock
Movie trends are cyclical and right now we are getting ready for the traditional summer blockbusters. First out was the insanely successful The Avengers, which set the tone and pace for the US summer season.
I've listed the forthcoming action-driven fantasy epics (see right) so you can plan your viewing. That leaves me with only one film worth reviewing this week, and while it is not absolute junk, it's also no masterpiece.
One for the Money is a slick crime movie made entirely by women. The director is Julie Anne Robinson; Katherine Heigl (pictured) plays the lead character; and the screenwriters, Stacy Sherman and Karen Ray, created the script based on a novel by Janet Evanovich. That's a lot of woman-power and it gives the film a quirky edge.
Evanovich's literary career took her on a bumpy ride. She graduated from university, but soon after that she became a suburban mom. In her spare time, she wrote romance novels to earn extra cash.
Then she saw the Robert de Niro movie Midnight Run, in which he played a bounty hunter, and that gave her an idea. In 1994 she wrote a crime novel about a female bounty hunter named Stephanie Plum. She called it One for the Money and the book received strong reviews and it sold well.
Evanovich had found her "chick-lit" groove, and her subsequent Stephanie Plum books frequently topped the New York Times bestseller list. Nonetheless, it took 18 years and 22 books to get Hollywood's attention. Finally, the first book in the series has been made into a movie.
Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, a down-trodden divorcee with a family that does not understand her. Her mousey brown hair and dowdy clothes are as dull as her life.
On a whim she decides to become a bounty hunter, a private investigator who tracks down criminals and hands them over to justice in exchange for cash. She's a total rookie. She's hopeless with a gun, but she knows this is her last chance to be an independent woman.
The script gives her an interesting partner. Morelli (Jason O'Mara) was her heart-throb at high school, but it was a stormy relationship and now he's a tough ex-cop, working on the shady side of the street.
There's also Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), a cop who has reservations about how tough and competent Stephanie is, but he likes her and that creates a story - of sorts - that plays out in Pittsburgh. To Robinson's credit, the film is cleverly shot and creates a real sense of place.
It features a great cast of supporting players, including the legendary Debbie Reynolds, who plays her few scenes with bright, vulgar energy. But, finally, the elements do not connect into a coherent structure.
There are some good laughs, but not enough. Heigl tries to be slick and feisty but she comes across as whiny and irritating.