Title: One for the Money
Director: Julie Anne Robinson (‘The Last Song’)
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara and Daniel Sunjata (‘Gone,’ TV’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’)
Movies based on successful novels and feature high-profile actors are often destined to become popular and entertaining, as they already have a built-in fanbase. But the new action comedy ‘One for the Money,’ which is based on Janet Evanovic’s 1994 book of the same name and features Katherine Heigl and Jason O’Mara in the lead roles, is one of the unfortunate adaptations that fails to live up to its source material. While the two actors have an easy-going and natural working relationship, the film lacks any true character or plot development.
‘One for the Money’ follows New Jersey girl Stephanie Plum (played by Heigl), who is forced to take a job as a bounty hunter at her cousin Vinny’s (portrayed by Patrick Fischler) bails bond agency in Trenton, after she loses her managerial position at Macy’s. While she doesn’t know anything about apprehending criminals and doesn’t even own a gun, Stephanie is happy to take on the job and by-pass the easy cases in order to apprehend former vice cop and murder suspect Joe Morelli (played by O’Mara). Stephanie not only needs the $50,000 fee from bringing Joe in, but also wants revenge on him for sleeping with her in high school and then leaving her. In the process, Stephanie must also deal with her meddling family and a boxer involved in the shooting who’s intent on hurting her and the witnesses she talks to.
Much like director Julie Anne Robinson’s last film, 2010′s romance drama ‘The Last Song,’ the action comedy also appeals to a large female audience. Women will surely relate to Stephanie’s struggles, including her desire to financially succeed without having to rely on anyone else and escape from their mother’s meddling ways, as well as seeking revenge on the man who hurt them in high school. Stephanie is a surprisingly independent protagonist who will do whatever it takes to stand up for what she believes in and what’s morally right, even if it means putting her own life in danger.
Despite Stephanie’s determination to find out what really happened the night Joe’s shooting, ‘One for the Money’ unfortunately fails to include any of the intelligent investigating Evanovich included in the novel. The film includes unrealistic situations, such as witnesses to Joe’s alleged crime instantly and willingly speaking to Stephanie. While she has no previous knowledge of the bails bond business, she also quickly picks up on the skills needed to succeed, such as shooting a gun, in the mere three days after she takes on Joe’s case.
‘One for the Money’ also disappointingly features an undeveloped plot-line that mainly relies on Stephanie’s hostility with other people to garner laughs. While she does want to help those affected by the shooting, she is unfortunately too focused on outwitting and upstaging Joe to realize what the best courses of action always are. ‘One for the Money’ also fails to present any true character development, which will surely leave fans of Evanovich’s novel unsatisfied. While Stephanie preaches how Joe hasn’t changed since high school, and still only cares about himself, she is continuously motivated to stay on his case just to obtain her revenge on him.
While screenwriters Liz Brixius, Stacy Sherman and Karen Ray ultimately failed to seemingly translate the character of Stephanie to the film adaptation, Heigl and O’Mara did have a witty, humorous relationship together. The two actors made it seem as though Stephanie and Joe do have a rivalry with each other that dates back to high school, and neither one has matured enough to mend their differences. But as they spend more time together as adults, they aren’t afraid to joke with each other to make light of their situation.
Lakeshore Entertainment should have been able to seamlessly adapt Evanovich’s ‘One for the Money,’ one of the most successful thriller debut novels of all time, into an intriguing, amusing movie. While Heigl and O’Mara did have an entertaining, free-spirited relationship with each other, and Stephanie was involved in several struggles that women could relate to, the action comedy unfortunately failed to provide any realistic situations or natural character development. The film was also unable to capture the true essence of what made the novel entertaining and exciting.
Written by: Karen Benardello