One for the Money (2012) – Julie Ann Robinson

“I didn’t know what to do with it but it was something,” says Stephanie Plum, the department store clerk turned bounty hunter in One for the Money, when presented with a piece of evidence about the case she’s on. I imagine the filmmakers said much the same thing when the camera, the lights, the editing equipment and the script arrived on set.

I don’t want to call One for the Money the worst movie I’ve ever seen because that would suggest that it is singular in some way. I will say that I was having a perfectly lovely Sunday and then suddenly I wasn’t and my brain and sensibilities were being assaulted by this most terrible of films. The movie stars Katherine Heigl as Stephanie, who’s down on her luck because she’s an idiot and she’s laid off by the lingerie department she was working in and now she can’t afford her car or her apartment and has to beg for a job in her cousin’s bail company where she is immediately given the highest profile, most lucrative and most dangerous case they’ve got. The charge is Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) a cop who missed his court date and is accused of shooting an unarmed man. Morelli also took Stehpanie’s virginity back in their high school days and he never called and now she’s out for some payback. You see, she’s tough because she’s from Jersey, I mean, not any New Jersey that exists on planet Earth but a place where people talk with their hands, wisecrack dimly and where prostitutes are wacky eccentrics. Stephanie pursues the case while two handsome guys pursue her. Despite the fact that she is uninteresting, unintelligent and unlikable, she has her choice between both the hunky Morelli who, gasp, may not be guilty and another bounty hunter played by Daniel Sunjata.

I feel truly angry at the people who made One for the Money,people so cynical that they think we are are dull and witless enough to enjoy this movie. That we are so starved for art and incurious that a clumsy, insipid, unfunny, tone-deaf disaster likeOne for the Money passes for entertainment. Not only does it trade characterization for stereotyping, story for situations, credibility for the lowest forms of humor, it’s poorly made, full of continuity errors, thoughtless shots, and moronic blocking, especially during one of the most tensionless and idiotic final confrontations I’ve ever seen. It does succeed in keeping the boom mic out of the shot so … gold stars for everyone. One for the Money is the kind of picture where the highlights are when Stephanie says, “This time it’s personal” or when the villain confesses and explains his plan at the worst possible time because even though those are ridiculous clichés, they resemble actual movies, albeit bad ones.

Reader, I am so tired of movies that introduce a scenario in which Katherine Heigl has to hold a gun. I want to give Ms. Heigl the benefit of the doubt and posit that she can be at the center of a good movie. But she seems to insist on using this grating mix of smart-ass, scaredy-cat and airhead so that she becomes unwatchable. I have much more faith in her acting ability than her acumen for choosing scripts. It’s been five years since her breakout role in Knocked Up made her a movie star and the best scripts she’s worked with since then have been for 27 Dressesand an internet video about pet population control in which she asserts that she hates balls. O’Mara does his best to pretend to believe the things going on around him, a skill he must have honed on the TV show “Terra Nova,” the premise of which is only slightly more far-fetched. It pains me to mention that Debbie Reynolds is in this movie, but there she is, playing a part Betty White wouldn’t dream of stooping to.

 It bothers me that this movie was made. It bothers me that it took $40 million dollars to make it despite there not being a single idea or difficult shot in it. It bothers me that the closest it comes to art is when a Muzak version of “Habanera” can be heard on the soundtrack during a scene in an electronics store. It bothers me that I’ve spent even this relatively short amount of time thinking about this terrible movie and it bothers me that I have apparently spent more time thinking about it than anyone responsible for making it has. 

2 Responses to One for the Money (2012) – Julie Ann Robinson

  1. I will read this review when I am having bad days. “Reader, I am so tired of movies that introduce a scenario in which Katherine Heigl has to hold a gun.” Gets me every time.

  2. Katherine Heigl is like a hangnail: painful and always in the way. And even after it’s over, you know all too well that it’s only a matter of time before the next one pops up.

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