One for the Money (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

One for the Money (2012)

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A few minutes into One for the Money, I began to slide down into my seat. Was I watching The Bounty Hunter again? Here's the story of a bondsman going after their mark with whom they had a personal stake. In the course of bringing the perp in, they find that they might be innocent and have to work their ass off to save themselves from a hail of gunfire and close situations.

One for the Money luckily escapes the designation of being one of the absolute worst movies I've subjected myself to in the last half decade (like, say, The Bounty Hunter) and instead falls gently towards somewhere in the middle.

Katherine Heigl is Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter on the trail of one of her ex-lovers who's skipped bail. He's Morelli (Jason O'Mara), a former cop with a Gerard Butler-ish smile but significantly less smile wattage. She's new to bounty hunting, so it's good fortune that he and expert bondsman Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) keep interceding in her clumsy shenanigans. The two male stars never share the screen, and it's a shame, since a the movie is exactly a shirtless wrestling match between the two away from descending into pure unbridled female fantasy.

Disregarding that, it's still pretty damn close.

"You may think I'm Gerard Butler, but, no, I'm his sensual cousin who keeps his shirt on."

After Jacob and I had a debate last week over what entitled a strong female character, and Stephanie Plum would be pretty unqualified for half the equation. She seems to tear up at the slightest provocation, and spends 70 minutes of the 80 minute getting alternatively lucky and having one of the slabs of beef sweep into frame at the last second.

Katherine Heigl is, to allow some personal preference to slip in, a strikingly beautiful woman, and the film lingers on her curves at every opportunity. Breasts, buttocks, what have you. Either Stephanie Plum or the wardrobe department have a fanatical devotion to high heels and low cut shirts, contrary to all evidence that they seem to hinder Plum's suddenly active social life at every opportunity.

But, hell, that's not so bad. At least they're jeans and not leather-- my lingering hatred of Underworld: Awakening may be coloring my perceptions here, but still-- and Plum at least manages to take a couple of stands that are agreeably bold. That she can eat a ton without gaining an ounce is another facet of the fantasy; hell, that's one I wish I had right now, especially after eating three bars of toffee and drinking a half of bottle of wine.

Yeah, this is my stomach right now. Oof.

Plum is hard to understand without regarding her circumstances. She's living in Trenton, New Jersey, which is a world unto itself; families are tight, Italian, and overly concerned with everything except the incredible amount of violence that seems to happen within blocks of each other. The streets are filthy, and the people who inhabit them range from smatterings of 'fitfully quirky prostitutes' to a smorgasbord of 'angry sexual predators'. If their was ever a film to convince people not to go to New Jersey... well, I don't think it needs to be made, but here's one anyway.

Director Julie Anne Robinson has mostly functioned in television and doesn't add much in the way of directorial intent here. She's competent, and does a good job of making New Jersey seem like a dangerous, ugly place. She'd probably be better served if the characters could keep a handle on their accents, but that's neither here nor there.

She gets a number of good actors out of the woodwork here, including the legendary Debbie Reynolds. Reynolds plays the grandma going senile who says wildly inappropriate things; again, totally not veering into creaky stereotypes. There's also John Leguizamo and Fisher Stevens lurking on the outer reaches, making the film one Bob Hoskins short from a full on Super Mario Brothers reunion.

(In case you're reading this and you're just dorky enough to say, "Wait, what about Dennis Hopper?", well, he's dead. Way to be insensitive, jerk.)

Here's the other Slab McBeefcake, "Ranger". He mostly smiles and swoops in whenever Morelli can't.

My favorite character was Mary Lou (Anna Parisse), who is Plum's friend who we only see on the other end of the phone when Stephanie needs to deliver exposition, but finds that her she's passed the amount of voice over she's allowed for any given scene. It's like the movie tried to fit in every supporting character from Janet Evanovich's book series, and this was the best they can do.

By the final third of the movie, I started watching the audience's reaction every so often. They looked delighted and entertained. I couldn't begrudge them; this was escapism competently made and well paced. It's just that that's still the best you can say about it.

Frankly, by the film's end, I was just glad there were two guys for Stephanie to chose from.

PS -- I couldn't fit this into my review, but the best line of the movie comes from one of the prostitutes, insisting that she doesn't go both ways, simply notes, "I'm strictly dick-ly." What a phrase.

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Posted by Danny

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  1. oh jeez…this movie looks tough to get through. better you than me. 🙁

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