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1 review, 6 user ratings

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One for the Money
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Finally, This Generation's "V.I. Warshawski". . ."
2 stars

With its aggressively quirky nature and relentlessly colorful cast of characters, "One for the Money" comes across less as a fully functioning feature film and more like a busted pilot for a series for the USA Network. This attempt to launch a big-screen franchise based on the best-selling novels by Janet Evanovich featuring the adventures of spunky bounty hunter Stephanie Plum contains a number of the ingredients required to make a successful action-comedy but has no real idea of how to put them together into a coherent or entertaining whole. It certainly isn't the worst film in the multiplex these days--it probably isn't even bad enough to fully warrant Lionsgate dumping it into theaters this weekend with no press screenings and a minimum of hype--but there is a fairly decent chance that it may be among the most forgettable of the bunch.

Katherine Heigl stars as Stephanie Plum and when we first encounter her, she is a Jersey Girl on the skids--she just lost her job selling lingerie at Macy's, her car has been repossessed and she is about to lose her apartment over the back rent. Needing cash in a hurry, she goes to work for a bail bondsman relative as a bounty hunter tracking down people who have skipped bail. Among the people she is tracking down is Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), an old flame with whom she has a checkered history (he took her virginity and broke her heart, she ran him over with her car and broke his leg). Now Joe is a cop accused of murder who has skipped bail while trying to clear his name and while Stephanie tries tracking him down, she becomes involved in investigating the case as well, a web of murder and deceit involving a missing girl, sassy hookers, a violent boxer, mysterious deaths and a guy who seems so nonchalant and unnecessary to the proceedings that he couldn't possibly have anything to do with the brutal goings-on. If that isn't enough, we are also treated to such sights as a hunky expert bounty hunter (Daniel Sunjata) teaching Stephanie the ropes, her wacky grandmother (Debbie Reynolds. . .yes, Debbie Reynolds) playing with her gun at the dinner table and shooting the turkey, Stephanie getting handcuffed naked to her shower railing in classic PG-13 fashion (i.e. nothing is shown that might not be glimpsed in a Maxim pictorial) and metric tons of junk food that we are supposed to believe that Stephanie is chomping on at every available moment, a conceit somewhat subverted by the evidence provided by the aforementioned shower scene.

For many viewers, just the mention of the name Katherine Heigl is enough to send shivers up their spines these days thanks to the grim string of abysmal romantic comedies that she has been cranking out over the last few years. To be fair, her flinty and fairly abrasive personality is somewhat of a better fit for her character her and she doesn't descend into the kind of fluttering foolishness that has marked too many of her other films. Unfortunately, she is never quite convincing either--her accent runs the gamut from hard-core Joisey to non-existent and she always comes across as someone pretending to be lower-class without ever quite nailing it in the way that, say, Mia Farrow did in the great "Broadway Danny Rose." And yet, the film might have survived her unsteady portrayal if the rest of it had worked better than it does here. The screenplay is a mess that gathers together plenty of incidents without finding a strong through line (there are times when it feels as if whole scenes are simply missing) and the direction by Julie Anne Robinson (auteur of the pulse-pounding classic "The Last Song") demonstrates absolutely no flair for the material. Throw in the complete lack of chemistry between Heigl and the ultra-bland O'Mara and you have a film that is more like a mid-day stumble than "Midnight Run."

Of course, because I am slamming a film centered on a female character--especially one going through the motions that might ordinarily be performed by a male--there is a good chance that some amateur critics might have the knee-jerk reaction that my dim view of "One for the Money" is based entirely on blatant sexism and nothing more. To such people, I would simply suggest that they head to the local movie theater and take a gander at Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire." Like this one, it offer up an action-packed story with a female character in the central role. Unlike this one, both the central character, portrayed by mixed martial artist Gina Carano, and the story that she is fronting are interesting and compelling enough to allow the film to transcend the cliches of its genre. "One for the Money" doesn't have any such ambition--it feels as if everyone involved just kind of gave up at a certain point--and what might have been the beginning of a perfectly agreeable film franchise instead winds up as little more than this generation's "V.I. Warshawski."

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21370&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/27/12 18:16:28
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User Comments

7/20/12 Sean Harrison Entertaining, if otherwise mediocre film. 3 stars
5/24/12 mr.mike Heigl is fair at best and the romcom banter is cringe-inducing. 2 stars
5/16/12 The Taitor It's the Bounty Hunter movie with the roles reversed, should have been aborted. 1 stars
1/29/12 Kim Heigl is miscast as Stephanie Plum. I love the books but...ugh. 3 stars
1/28/12 Barbara was awful..miscast from start to finish 1 stars
1/27/12 Gail If I hadn't read the series, I wouldn't like the movie. 3 stars
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  27-Jan-2012 (PG-13)



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