At the Movies: ‘One for the Money’ is bankrupt of humor
“One for the Money”
1.5 out of 4 stars
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Sherri Shepherd and Debbie Reynolds.
If you’re planning to view “One for the Money,” but you’re not sure what to expect, the old expression from which it gets its title provides the best advice. As long as you skip over the whole “two for the show, three to get ready” part and jump ahead to “four to go,” by which I mean leave the theater as quick as you can.
Unemployment hasn’t been kind to Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl). Months of trying to find a new career after being laid off from the lingerie department of Macy’s have only brought repossession of her car and an eviction notice at her apartment.
Applying for a position with her bail bondsman cousin (Patrick Fischler) doesn’t grant her the filing job she’d hoped for, but the idea of being a bounty hunter intrigues her. Even better is the prospect of tracking down her high school boyfriend (Jason O’Mara), a cop who’s been on the run from the courts in disgrace after a drug bust gone bad.
Taking home $50,000 for nabbing the guy who dumped her as teenager is all the inspiration Stephanie needs to take up the new line of work, training with an experienced “bail enforcement agent” (Daniel Sunjata).
However, as she trails her quarry and performs true detective work, she starts to realize she’s after an innocent man who’s in some major peril.
Heigl must have been looking for a way to break out of her rut of romantic comedies of the last several years where she’s always the unhappy single woman who finally comes to terms with the fact that love is right under her nose. Let’s admit it — “27 Dresses,” “Life As We Know It” and “The Ugly Truth” are all pretty much the same movie whether she’s playing against James Marsden, Josh Duhamel or Gerard Butler.
What seems like a plum role for the actress isn’t much different from her part in “Killers,” except she’s a brunette this time, she’s much more comfortable waving around a handgun and she has an uncharacteristic habit of pigging out on junk food.
O’Mara barely registers as her one-time beau, Joe Morelli, who fears her almost as much as the criminals out for his blood. Hey, you’d be nervous too if you were being hassled by a girl who once ran you over with a car.
Sherri Shepherd is used oddly as street-wise hooker Lula, who provides Stephanie with the lowdown on all she knows about the mess in which Morelli has gotten involved, while John Leguizamo is practically superfluous playing a fight promoter who knows more than he admits about the predicament.
Debra Monk and Louis Mustillo are fine as Stephanie’s cumbersome parents, while Debbie Reynolds is pleasant enough as her unpredictable grandmother, who’s just about the funniest person in the whole movie.
The laughs are few in this adaptation of the first book in Janet Evanovich’s ever-growing series. The depiction of New Jersey as a place where everybody knows everybody and gossips openly has been done to death and was hardly funny the first time.
This almost feels intentional by director Julie Anne Robinson, much more adept at handling TV episodes, as if she wants viewers to think they’re watching a brassy action flick with some occasional one-liners.
Everything is such a mish-mash, it’s not even worth trying to decipher which genre this falls into in the first place, mostly discomfiting the star’s fans more than anyone. If you’re expecting the “Grey’s Anatomy” actress to give you some cutesy quips, you’ll be let down and if you want to see her carve out a new niche for herself, you’ll be even more disappointed.
To be fair, Heigl tries her best to make “One for the Money” entertaining as an actress and as an executive producer, but it’s one of those debacles that no matter how much cash you throw at it, it’s about as good as it can get. Maybe pop-ins by Snooki and The Situation would have helped emphasize that Jersey authenticity.
Oh, well. Fuhgeddaboutit!