Review of One for the Money

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Katherine Heigl stars in this crime thriller based on the 1994 novel of the same name by Janet Evanovich. The story follows Heigl as Stephanie Plum, a classic Jersey girl whose been unemployed for over half a year. Desperate, she turns to her cousin for a job as a bounty hunter for his bail bonds business. Jason O'Mara, Debbie Reynolds, Daniel Sunjata & Sherri Shepherd also star.
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Movie Review: "One for the Money"
--Movie Review: One For the Money

Rating: PG-13 (language, violence, sexual references, partial nudity, drug material)
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: January 27, 2012
Directed by: Julie Anne Robinson
Genre: Comedy, Crime & Action

Based on the beloved Janet Evanovich novel, "One for the Money" is the story of how the recently divorced Stephanie Plum became a bounty hunter. The movie stays mostly true to the book in terms of plot but is, overall, a mixed bag of romantic comedy clichés with a little bit of action mixed in.

Katherine Heigl stars as Plum, whose car is repossessed just minutes into the movie. She was apparently fired from her job selling lingerie at Macy's in New Jersey. The entire movie takes place in Trenton, where Plum grew up. Heigl and the cast give the Jersey accent their all but come up mostly empty. Some of the accents are either greatly over-exaggerated or, in the case of Heigl, intermittent.

The first fifteen minutes of the movie establishes what a sad sack Plum has become. She has no food, no money, and no car, and she is behind in the rent on her tiny apartment with outdated appliances. At a family dinner, her parents suggest she try to get a job with her cousin, who owns a bail bond business.

Her family likely meant for her cousin Vinny (Patrick Fischler) to hire her as a secretary. Instead, Plum railroads him into hiring her to find criminals who have skipped out on their bonds. She gets a 10 percent cut, which in the case of Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara) means a cool $50,000. She sees this case as her way out of debt, even though Vinny warns her to stay away from it. He would prefer for her to take easier cases like the elderly nudist who doesn't put up a fight when she takes him to jail. She secretly decides to take the Morelli case anyways.

Her ulterior motive is that Morelli is also the man she gave up her virginity to years before. She despises him because he is a womanizer who treated her bad and thinks that taking him to jail will help heal those wounds. Though Plum is depicted as a smart woman who is going through a bad time, she morphs into a naïve woman who tries to take Morelli in with no backup or weapon. The result is that she ends up fishing her car keys out of a dumpster after Morelli throws them in there.

Plum spends the bulk of the movie in humiliating situations, which is very frustrating for the audience. We are meant to want Plum to succeed in her job, but she keeps bumbling into situations that are way over her head. A girl who is supposedly as smart as her would have seen she was overmatched and backed out.

Luckily for Plum, she meets Ranger (Patrick Fischler), a highly skilled bounty hunter who takes her under his wing. He buys the broke Plum her first gun and even shows her how to shoot it. He rescues her from danger or silly situations more than once. He even calls to warn her of impending trouble. In short, he seems like the perfect guy. The audience is left wondering why Plum isn't flirting with him instead of the caddish Morelli.

Through a twist of events, Morelli ends up having to hide out in Plum's apartment. He is trying to establish his innocence while Plum just wants to take him to jail. After a fellow bounty hunter is killed in Morelli's car, Plum realizes the case is much bigger than a skipped bond. She reluctantly teams up with Morelli to find out who really committed the crime he was accused of.

Though the story does get a little gritty towards the end, this is still a romantic comedy at heart. As such, the audience already knows that there is likely a happy ending coming up. That is why the middle of the story is so important; it is supposed to keep the viewers entertained until that inevitable conclusion. "One for the Money" is mostly entertaining due to a few acting bright spots from Sherri Shepherd as a prostitute and John Leguizamo as Jimmy Alpha, who may or may not be a shady character.

The script by Stacy Sherman and Karen Ray has some fairly clunky dialogue that may frustrate fans of the book. Those who haven't read the book probably won't mind at all. Either way, it is best to just sit back and not take the movie too seriously. If viewers can suspend disbelief and ignore bad accents, they may be able to enjoy some charming performances.