One for the Money

Tedious and tonally inept, this Katherine Heigl starrer looks to be a nonstarter at the B.O.

Stephanie Plum - Katherine Heigl Joe Morelli - Jason O'Mara Ranger - Daniel Sunjata Jimmy Alpha - John Leguizamo Lula - Sherri Shepherd Grandma Mazur - Debbie Reynolds

Based on the first novel in Janet Evanovich’s bestselling mystery-comedy series featuring spunky bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, “One for the Money” has been in development for nearly two decades, during which Evanovich has published more than a dozen follow-up novels. With that sort of time invested and franchise potential awaiting, one would assume that someone with a degree of passion for the material would have eventually found their way to the project. The end result strongly suggests otherwise. Tedious and tonally inept, this Katherine Heigl starrer looks to be a nonstarter at the B.O.

Unfortunately, much of the blame can be laid at the feet of Heigl (who also exec produced). That this mildly outspoken star has developed such a devoted cadre of detractors is a strange phenomenon indeed, and one not without strong sexist undercurrents, but she does herself no favors by displaying nearly all her actorly shortcomings here. Shrill, unfocused and irregularly attempting a deep New Jersey accent that seems destined for lasting infamy, she plays heroine Stephanie with an almost standoffish lack of conviction.

As the film opens, Stephanie has been unemployed for several months after losing her job as a lingerie buyer, and her bank account is mired in the single digits. After watching through the window as her car is repossessed, she agrees to take a filing position with her bail bondsman cousin, only to have his secretary offer her a freelance role collecting bail jumpers instead. Her interest is piqued when she notices that former flame Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) is among the most wanted; he broke her heart in high school and his bounty is huge, so she agrees to bring him in.

Stephanie’s obvious unsuitability for this particular job is essentially the basis for the entire film, yet within two or three minutes of being offered the gig, she’s tailing perps and breaking into vacant buildings with no one batting an eye. This type of head-scratching flippancy will emerge again and again throughout.

In any case, missing details never derail the pic’s romantic-comedy-esque trajectory: Stephanie pursues Joe while firing off forced bouts of flirtation; an ultra-studly fellow bounty-hunter (Daniel Sunjata) teaches her some of the ropes; and her wacky family (including a forcefully schticky Debbie Reynolds) tries to set her up with the neighborhood nebbish.

Also, she’s threatened and stalked by a serial rapist (Gavin-Keith Umeh); her ineptitude as a bounty-hunter causes several innocent people to be killed; and a friendly prostitute (Sherri Shepherd) is brutally beaten. A director with a feel for black comedy might have managed to marry these wildly incompatible tones, but in the hands of Julie Anne Robinson, the entire enterprise merely leaves a sour aftertaste. As Stephanie continually charges headlong into dangerous situations with unsavory men with nary a thought for her personal safety, only to be inevitably bailed out by a passing male savior, her behavior begins to seem less quirky than clinically insane. She’s far more Timothy Treadwell than Miss Marple.

Tech values are functional, and the aesthetic is thoroughly smallscreen. Like the book, “One for the Money” is prominently set in Trenton, N.J., though it was largely lensed in Pittsburgh; this location choice does the film no great detriment, it just doesn’t really make any sense.

Popular on Variety

One for the Money

Production: A Lionsgate release of a Lakeshore Entertainment and Lionsgate presentation of a Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment, Wendy Finerman production in association with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Abishag Prods. Produced by Finerman, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Sidney Kimmel. Executive producers, Katherine Heigl, Nancy Heigl, Andre Lamal, Eric Reid, Bruce Toll. Co-producer, Zane Weiner. Directed by Julie Anne Robinson. Screenplay, Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray, Liz Brixius, from the novel by Janet Evanovich.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Jim Whitaker; editor, Lisa Zeno Churgin; music, Deborah Lurie; music supervisor, Eric Craig; production designer, Franco-Giacomo Carbone; set decorator, Linda Lee Sutton; costume designer, Michael Dennison; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/Datasat), Danny Michael; supervising sound editor, Michael Babcock; re-recording mixers, Babcock, Tim LeBlanc; special effects coordinator, Ray Bivins; assistant director, Cara Giallanza; casting, Deborah Aquila, Ross Meyerson, Tricia Wood, Julie Tucker. Reviewed at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live, Los Angeles, Jan. 27, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 91 MIN.

With: Stephanie Plum - Katherine Heigl Joe Morelli - Jason O'Mara Ranger - Daniel Sunjata Jimmy Alpha - John Leguizamo Lula - Sherri Shepherd Grandma Mazur - Debbie ReynoldsWith: Gavin-Keith Umeh, Patrick Fischler, Ana Reeder, Nate Mooney, Debra Monk, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Annie Parisse, Leonardo Nam, Adam Paul.

More Film

  • Cocina Belleza

    San Sebastian: ‘Cocinar Belleza’s’ Sergio Piera, Toni Segarra Talk Culinary Art

    Cognoscenti of culinary documentaries relish how open the genre is, driving deep into technique, amazing spectators by revealing the profession’s depths. Rarely, however, does a documentary decide to sidestep the well-known beats of the genre, step back and capture a bigger picture that asks about the nature of beauty and art rather than culinary craftsmanship [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Orders Danish Supernatural Thriller Series 'Equinox'

    Netflix has ordered “Equinox,” a six-part Danish supernatural thriller series based on the well-known podcast Equinox 1985 which will be created by Tea Lindeburg (“Kødkataloget”). Set to start shooting later this year, “Equinox” will be executive produced by Piv Bernth (“The Killing”) at Apple Tree Productions, which is backed by ITV Studios. Production is expected [...]

  • Nina Wu Midi Z Un Certain

    Chinese Indie and Indian Films Dominate Pingyao Festival Lineup

    Chinese indie and Indian films dominate the lineup of the Pingyao International Film Festival. The main selection for the festival’s third edition will include 28 world premieres, organizers revealed on Monday. The event will screen 52 films from 26 countries and territories, with all of them having their China debut. The opening film is set [...]

  • 'Sound of Metal' Review: Riz Ahmed

    Toronto Film Review: 'Sound of Metal'

    “Sound of Metal” is a film with a potent, searing hook. It stars Riz Ahmed, who is such a sensational actor (just watch him in “Jason Bourne” or “Nightcrawler” or “The Sisters Brothers”), as Ruben, a punk-metal drummer, heavy on the tattoos and peroxide, who has been thrashing away as part of a caterwauling noise [...]

  • David Goodman

    WGA West's David Goodman on Agency Strategy: 'We'll Start Meeting as Soon as Possible'

    David Goodman, who was resoundingly re-elected president of the Writers Guild of America West on Monday, said the guild plans to meet with several talent agencies soon in an effort to ease the impasse over packaging fees and affiliated production. “Many agencies had indicated that they wanted to wait to see the results of the [...]

  • Australian Outback

    Legend Media Seeks Trio of West Australia-China Co-Productions (EXCLUSIVE)

    Perth, Australia-based production company Legend Media is preparing a slate of three feature films to be produced with partners in China. The company styles itself as one that recognizes the opportunities for Asian engagement that have fallen to Australia, through geography, trade and culture. The company aims to make use of the bilateral film co-production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content