Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Debbie Reynolds, Sherri Shepherd
Janet Evanovich (Novel), Karen McCullah Lutz, Karen Ray, Kirsten Smith, Liz Brixius, Stacy Sherman
To call One for the Money a disappointment would be an overstatement. Let's face it. Katherine Heigl has reached that point in her film career where cinematic expectations are modest at best.
A modestly entertaining romantic comedy? That would be nice.
A film with a few hearty laughs? Heaven.
Just one film where she doesn't actually come off as Katherine Heigl? That would be a miracle.
One for the Money is Hollywood's latest attempt at starting a franchise, this time bringing to the big screen the novels of the wildly popular Janet Evanovich. Now then, it's really difficult to imagine that Evanovich is actually happy with this film. Actually, I picture her joining the Man on a Ledge but really being suicidal.
Okay, maybe not.
But, given the years that Evanovich has put into bringing the character of Stephanie Plum to life in her novels it has to be disappointing to see such a vacant, empty portrayal as that which unfolds in One for the Money. As much as I do enjoy Heigl's work (Really!), she's woefully miscast here as a character whose rabid fans are almost sure to be disappointed here.
Beyond the fact that Heigl is serving as one of the film's executive producers, there's really only one logical reason why she was actually cast as Plum, a Jersey girl who loses her job selling lingerie and out of desperation takes a job as a bounty hunter with a family business. Heigl has always had a tendency to play entertainingly insecure characters, and the character of Stephanie Plum is most endearing to her fans because of her flawed humanity. Unfortunately, the similarities between the two end right there as Heigl is almost your stereotypical Miss Priss, a pollyanna sort of character whose entire image and screen presence runs counter to this idea that she could convincingly pull off a rough-and-tumble Jersey bounty hunter.
Okay. Okay. I know it's acting but, if we're being honest, it's not like Heigl's ever sold herself as a brilliant actress. She gets by on her screen presence and "girl next door" personality. She needs to take roles that accentuate these qualities. This ain't it.
In this film, we start off with the set-up. Plum is on the verge of losing everything and takes the job as a bounty hunter. She gets a little more excited about the gig when she's asked to pick up a vice cop (Jason O'Mara) accused of shooting an unarmed man. Oh, and the vice cop just happens to be an ex-boyfriend who unceremoniously dumped her.
For someone who projects such strong femininity in her real life, it's baffling why Heigl is so attracted to these roles and films where old school machismo is stressed and where women seem to find themselves in "funny" victim roles. But, time and again it seems like Heigl finds herself in such films.
Give it up. They don't work.
She's also typically horribly miscast with her men, only occasionally managing to find a decent on-screen match (No, not Josh Kelley). While Jason O'Mara isn't as bad a mismatch as was Gerard Butler, there's not much going on here that's worth watching when the two are on screen.
While he doesn't come close to saving the film, John Leguizamo at least redeems himself in an otherwise sparkless film. Ana Reeder is also decent here, though Debbie Reynolds seems clueless about where to go here and director Julie-Anne Robinson clearly didn't give her any decent guidance.
It will be interesting to see if Heigl's loyal legion of fans will show up for this film, and it will be interesting to see exactly the response from Evanovich's fans who've waited for this opportunity. This year, American audiences proved that there's an appetite for intelligent and imaginative female comedies with Bridesmaids, which even managed to snag an Oscar nomination for Melissa McCarthy. It's disappointing and even a tad depressing to see such stale and formulaic material, especially when it's being adapted from truly beloved, well written novels.
There's no other way to say it. This was Heigl's big shot at a really "plum" role and she blew it.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic