Friday, May 10, 2013

One for the Money Movie Review

I've worked at a couple of public libraries over the years. When shelving fiction books I would frequently come across Janet Evanovich books. Evanovich has written a series of crime comedies starring her character Stephanie Plum; there are currently nineteen books in the series. Just recently a movie was made based on the first book. The trailer for One for the Money (2012) looked decent, so I gave it a try.
After losing her job, Jersey girl Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) is broke. Needing a job she is told that her cousin, a bail bondsman, needs someone to help out in the office. But the only open jobs he has are skip tracers. She learns that Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a guy she knew intimately years ago, is one of the "skips." She eventually finds him but wasn't really prepared so he gets away. Another bounty hunter, Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) takes Stephanie under his wing to show her the ropes. Eventually she finds Morelli again, but he claims he is innocent of the crime he's accused of and he is trying to prove his innocence. Stephanie thinks he's telling the truth so she stakes out the person who can help him. The two try to find someone who can prove Morelli's innocence but the problem is that people are attacked or killed shortly after Stephanie speaks with them. Something bigger than a missed court date is going on, and Stephanie is determined to find out what that bigger something is, and to find out if Morelli is as trustworthy as he claims to be.
I've never read a Janet Evanovich book, so I can't really say how the movie compares to its source material. I can say the movie is full of quirky, silly characters with New Joisey vibes. While they are quirky and silly, they aren't very deep or all that interesting. Stephanie's plight is easy to relate to; becoming desperate enough for money as to pick up any odd job that comes around and appeasing a family full of wacky characters is something many of us do anyway. I got the feeling that many of the characters in One for the Money were making movie cameos that  would delight only fans of the books.
Most of the dialogue was amusing, but only earned some laughs now and then. It's as if the movie was trying to set itself up for some funny situational humor but only managed to achieve humor through some of the dialogue. It resulted in a comedy that wasn't all that funny. There are plenty of antics that revolve around Morelli who is a possibly corrupt and murderous cop, and his still-enamored and inexperienced pursuer. This seems like an interesting twist on the traditional cat-and-mouse games that a lot of crime movies have.
One for the Money seemed more like a really long episode of a TV show rather than a major motion picture. The acting was sub-par and even awkward at times. Katherine Heigl is pretty and all, but her delivery was lackluster. The script seemed to be rigid and by-the-book; it was predictable for the most part and had the same scenes that nearly every crime movie has. The action is sparse; we have a car explosion and a few gun shots. This studio probably could have saved some money by making this a TV release movie without changing a thing.
My biggest complaint about this particular crime movie is that we're not given enough hints to figure out whodunit. It's a crime/mystery story and when we find out who the culprit is, it pretty much comes out of the blue. The story isn't all that deep or hard to follow, but a good story should make you understand how the crime could only have occurred the way that it did. We're given a lot of red herrings, but the one that actually develops into something is unforeseen and illogical. I don't think the gumshoe aspect was supposed to be the driving point of the movie necessarily, but the comedy wasn't all that successful either.
One for the Money wasn't a very good movie. It was amusing enough to avoid actually being called "bad." The acting was forced and awkward, the script was mildly charming, the low production value caused the overall quality to suffer, and the story was contrived. If you don't see One for the Money you won't be missing anything of value. I caught it on NetFlix Instant Play and because of that it might be worth catching if your queue has been depleted of other good movies. Apparently Evanovich was thrilled with the movie, but I really don't foresee the other novels in the series being made into films. The books may still be worth a shot; don't judge a book by it's movie.

What's your favorite crime movie? Were you able to solve the case along with the investigator? comment below and tell me about it!

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