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June 2012

One For The Money

cast: Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, John Leguizamo, Debbie Reynolds, and Daniel Sunjata

director: Julie Anne Robinson

91 minutes (12) 2012
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
EIV blu-ray region B
[released 18 June]

RATING: 7/10
review by Donald Morefield

One For The Money

Based on a 1994 novel by Janet Evanovich, One For The Money is essentially a romantic comedy adventure. On its cinema release, this $40 million picture was rather unfairly trashed by critics. Despite a few moments of crime-story tension and a shootout finale, it's a light-hearted affair, not an action thriller. Perhaps many reviewers expected something like Renny Harlin's The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996), but were disappointed by this 21st century variation that often plays to the strengths of sitcom, not a parade of criminal violence.

After being fired from a shop's lingerie sales department, adorable klutz Stephanie Plum asks her cousin Vinnie (one of many filmic references in a busily constructed narrative) for a job. Vinnie is a bail bondsman, and he reluctantly hires Steph as a skip chaser/ recovery agent, assigned to arrest suspects who fail to appear in court as ordered/ required by law. With help from an established professional bounty hunter, the self-styled Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), wannabe heroine Steph attempts to ensure that ex-cop Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara) is brought to justice. He's worth $50K since he jumped bail. Poor Steph is out of her depth and in way over her head, but she learns fast enough to swim through a murky underworld so she is not drowning here. Pittsburgh locations stand-in for a New Jersey setting, and there are numerous slapstick pratfalls to contrast against gunplay menace.

"Does your mother know that you're carrying a gun?" Miss Plum is portrayed brilliantly by Katherine Heigl (perhaps still best known for TV drama Grey's Anatomy). At times, she looks and acts very much like Claudia Christian, and the resemblance is uncanny but thankfully not distracting. Untrained and obviously not tough, but a quick study, Plum is beautiful when she gets angry and embodies other movie clichés just as adeptly. This is often sharply written, generally witty, and very good fun, while sticking to a familiar but never tired Hollywood formula.

Overall, this is far superior to Andy Tennant's patchily entertaining The Bounty Hunter (2010), but not in the same class as Tony Scott's uneven yet ultra-stylised Domino (2005). In many ways, the character of Plum recalls Amanda Donohoe's performance in cult TV movie, It's Nothing Personal (1992), which certainly seems to be a more likely source of inspiration for Evanovich's on-going series (two dozen, so far!) of romantic mystery books, instead of Martin Brest's amusing road movie Midnight Run (1988), which the American authoress has cited as her primary influence.

With John Leguizamo as crooked Jimmy Alpha, and Debbie Reynolds playing Plum's slightly crazy grandma, there's plenty of variation of tone and substance here, which elevates the urban shenanigans of Plum's newfound profession to a crowd-pleasing high-five closure. Don't let the critics put you off. This is movie that mixes old-fashioned and postmodern traditions, and does so with a lightness of touch that deserves attention. If you were a fan of TV shows Remington Steele (1982-7) and/ or Moonlighting (1985-9), this quirky offering should appeal to your sense of humour.



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