I’m not sure if this is a boast or a confession, but I have read almost all of Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” books. Ten years ago, I would have been proud of that statement, but in recent years, as the quality of the series has declined, well, not so much.
When it was announced that Hollywood was going to produce a movie based on the first book in the Plum series (there are 18 now, plus a few novellas), One for the Money, fans of the franchise should have had two concerns: Would the actress playing bumbling Stephanie, the heart and soul of the books, capture her goofy charisma? And would the film do justice to the screwball comic tone of the novels?
The answer to the first question is “not to worry.” Katherine Heigl, who has a talent for choosing lousy scripts, nails the big three musts for an actress playing Stephanie: She’s the right mix of klutz, good girl, and sex kitten as the Trenton, New Jersey broad who, because of mounting bills and a hungry pet hamster, reluctantly takes a job as a bounty hunter.
Alas, the answer to the second question is, “not so much.” As directed by Julie Anne Robinson, One for the Money is a curiously flat film. There is a scene involving Stephanie and an FTA (“failure to appear” at court), an elderly exhibitionist, that should be hilarious. Instead the sequence, in which Steph transports the wrinkly geezer and his “twig and berries” to police headquarters, is just … peculiar.
The film’s climax, involving dead bodies, gunplay, and the unmasking of a villain, is similarly lifeless. In a movie like this, everything needs to click. It requires pacing and it requires chemistry. It needs to be more like Charade.
The supporting players (of vital importance to fans of the books) range from good enough to “what was the casting director thinking?” Debbie Reynolds, as Grandma Mazur, is OK but no more than that. Lula should have been played by Gabourey Sidibe. Vinnie should have been played by Danny DeVito. The movie should have been better. Grade: C-
Director: Julie Anne Robinson Cast: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Sherri Shepherd, Debbie Reynolds, Debra Monk, Nate Mooney, Adam Paul, Ana Reeder Release: 2012
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