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One for the Money Review

Based on the Janet Evanovich novel of the same name, One for the Money centers on  divorced and out-of-work New Jersey native Stephanie Plum. Thanks to connections, she gets a job as a bounty hunter (don’t ask), and as it turns out, former lover Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) is wanted for a large sum of money. On her quest to bring him in to the cops, however, several other mysteries arise, and it’s up to Plum to figure out how everything fits together. Saying that One for the Money boasts merit feels far too generous, but to call it a cinematic abomination feels like just as strong a crime. Even in its rare grim moments, it’s ever so mildly enjoyable and its light pace keeps things moving along rather rapidly. However, the movie’s virtually devoid of personality and doesn’t boast anything that makes it genuinely stand apart from other hybrids of crime and comedy. Heigl gives the movie her best, with a New Jersey accent that isn’t overdone, a better handle on the flimsy script than she usually has, and smart line delivery of even the cheesiest zingers. Unfortunately, Plum isn’t made out to be an extremely noteworthy character. Who is this woman? Why are we paying attention to her? Why do we care? I honestly can’t answer any of those questions after watching this movie. Also worthy of some credit is O’Mara as Joe Morelli. There’s not a whole lot going on with the role, but he’s able to match Heigl’s wit with every step of the journey. Debbie Reynolds obviously has fun as the sometimes mentally absent Grandma Mazur, but one wishes that she’d have more material on which to chew. As prostitutes who help to move the movie along, Ryan Michelle Bathe and The View’s Sherri Shepherd churn out the most laughs of the entire film. The always reliable Daniel Sunjata turns in a confident performance as Ranger, a bounty hunter who helps Plum carry out her work, while the perpetually underrated John Leguizamo carries himself modestly in a small but pivotal role. Not much of a surprise, the script serves as the biggest fault for “Money.” Even though the film focuses on a former lingerie store worker becoming a bounty hunter with (obviously) no knowledge of the profession, it’s never particularly grabbing or interesting and tends to lead the film down accidentally baffling and confusing paths. Events in the film either seem completely out of place or far too convenient for a protagonist who might have been more interesting otherwise. While it’s certainly not one of the worst scripts out there, it definitely doesn’t stand out. Perhaps even worse, however, is that “Money” never misses the opportunity to ogle Heigl’s voluptuous figure, including an obscenely gratuitous shot of her covering herself naked in a bathtub and a less appalling but still ostentatious lingering close-up of her in a tight bra. Unless we’re counting the two prostitutes played by Bathe and Shepherd, sex has nothing to do with the story at hand. Those glimpses of Heigl are purely exploitative and add nothing to the film. Maybe the cinematographer was trying to make up for the shortcomings of the film itself (or to throw a bone to the reluctant boyfriends/husbands in the audience), but all I found myself doing was rolling my eyes. Is One for the Money a great film? No. Is it a good film? Saying even that would be a stretch, but it’s undoubtedly a slight step up for Heigl from the mildly similar Killers and Garry Marshall’s Hollywood free-for-all New Year’s Eve. Still, I’d definitely take careful consideration in deciding whether or not this one is worthy of your money.
Rating
4.0

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