One for the Money
Director: Julie Ann Robinson
Writers: Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray, Liz Brixius, and Janet Evanovich (novel)
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, Sherri Shepherd, Debbie Reynolds, John Leguizamo
Cinematography: Jim Whitaker
My first post for this website was about One for the Money and my worries that the movie version would not be as good as the book. If you’ve read any of my other posts you might have noticed that I talk a lot about the differences between the two mediums. I am a huge reader – one of those people who always has a book in their hand. And since Hollywood really enjoys making money off a pre-existing audience, many of those books have been turned into movies or will be turned into movies. So unfortunately for you, you’re going to hear me rant and rave about how the book was SO much better than the movie - many, many times. Because I have yet to see a film that actually makes me forget everything that I read.
I have to tell you that I wasn’t at all excited to watch this movie. Normally, I would work myself into a frenzy about seeing one of my favorite books on the big screen – only to be dissapointed when I actually saw it. With this film it was the complete opposite. I absolutely hated seeing the trailer, even going so far as to switch the channel every time it came on t.v. The weird casting choices, Katherine Heigl’s terrible accent, and some interesting lines that I don’t remember from the book all combine to make this a movie that none of my friends wanted to pay to see. But instead of following their lead I decided that in the interest of informing the public that I should make the sacrifice of my time and money to watch something that I knew was going to be terrible. So was my initial assesment of the trailer correct or did I find something about the screen version to get me past my hatred of fake Jersey accents?
We begin our story with the increasingly miserable Stephanie Plum. She’s lost her job as a lingerie buyer, most of her home ammenities have been pawned off in order to pay the bills, and she’s at her wit’s end trying to find a new job. Desperation drives her to Vincent Plum Bail Bonding Company, the offices of her cousin. After learning that the filing job has been filled she sets her sights on the quick cash of bounty hunting. Being completely ignorant of what tracking down criminals really entails, Stephanie finds herself on the trail of an ex-boyfriend by the name of Joe Morelli. Even with the help of fellow bounty hunter Ranger, she finds learning to take down wanted criminals is a bit harder than it looks.
It Follows the Book
It’s always what I’m most worried about when watching literature turned into movie reels, whether it will actually include some of the book or if just the character names were used (you may think this is impossible but it’s happened before – just watch and read Ella Enchanted). So I was pleasantly surprised when I heard many of my favorite lines from the book repeated verbatim in the movie. This isn’t normally the case. In fact after seeing the film I had an intense urge to read the book again. Which I did – just before writing this review actually. While reading it I could remember the scenes that matched the book. So that’s a solitary check in the win colum for the big screen version.
The Male Casting Choices
When I wrote the article about the trailer I mentioned how unhappy I was with the casting choices for the two lead male characters. They are important pieces to the story of Stephanie Plum, not to mention very sexy to read about. The picture I have of Joseph Morelli is a hard bodied Italian, with chiseled features and eyes that can make your clothes just slide right off. Ranger is described in the book with “biceps that look like they’d been carved out of granite and buffed with Armor All… around 5’10″ with a muscular neck and a don’t-mess-with-me body” (pg.33). Unfortunately, these guys just don’t cut it:
I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt for the movie, but it’s sort of impossible to do when I’ve built them up in my mind. This is especially difficult with Daniel Sunjata, the guy who plays Ranger. He’s been featured in romantic comedies such as The Devil Wears Prada and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. He plays the nice guy, the cute one who can swoop in when the male lead is being an asshole. He’s very cute, but that’s just the problem. Sunjata does not look like a man who could kill a guy. He flashes those dimples and you just want to pinch his cheeks. He doesn’t do anything to increase my confidence in his bad-ass abilities during the movie either. Morelli I can sort of deal with, no one was going to match the hot man I have imagined from the pages. But I cannot forgive them for Ranger.
Katherine Heigl’s Accent
In her defense, Katherine Heigl’s accent was only annoying part of the time. Unfortunately the part of the time that it wasn’t like listening to someone do a bad impression of Snookie from Jersey Shore was when she lost the accent entirely. If you watch the trailer then you have a pretty good idea about what you’re going to be listening to for most of the movie. It’s going to get on your nerves especially if you’ve ever lived in the NY/NJ area (like I have) or if you have ears. So be prepared to suffer through it. Hopefully after reading this your expecations will be so low for hearing anything even remotely pleasant come out of Heigl’s mouth that you’ll be able to watch it without getting angry at the world. My gift to you.
It’s hard to talk about this without giving anything away, but I’ll give it a shot. At the end of any mystery/thriller there is the final confrontation where everything becomes clear and you know who killed Mr. Boddy. Well in the movie they sped up this ending so that it didn’t really make logical sense to me. Someone gets shot – don’t worry I won’t tell you who – and then somehow is able to drive an hour back into town without passing out at the wheel or showing any visible signs of discomfort. In the book, and in real life, this doesn’t happen. I suppose it’s just movie magic, but I can’t really suspend my belief that when you get shot it should hurt a little.
Overall: 1.5 stars out of 5
One for the Money may have followed the book marginally well, but it also somehow managed to be a mediocre movie. How can you take a good story with funny, sexy characters and turn it into complete crap? Cast the wrong people and change the ending. And have a constant track of Katherine Heigl’s fake Jersey accent. Watching the movie simply made me want to read the book again – to wash the memory of what was on the screen out of my head. It’s unfortunate, because if it had been a good movie there might have been a potential for sequels with so many books in the series. Now I’m sort of praying that they don’t ever make another film in the franchise. Books are always better, and this is just one more example.