Blu-ray Review: One for the Money

STUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: Julie Ann Robinson | CAST: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, John Leguizamo, Daniel Sunjata, Sherri Shepherd, Fisher Stevens, Debbie Reynolds
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 5/15/2012 | PRICE: Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.95
BONUSES: featurettes, gag reel, deleted scene
SPECS: PG-13 | 91 min. | Action comedy | 2.40 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Though it’s filled with a host of colorful characters, scenarios and settings, the action-comedy One for the Money, based on the first book in novelist Janet Evanovich’s bestselling series, is remarkably dull.

It’s the film’s predictability and the sense that it was constructed on some sort of genre graph or template that proves to be its undoing.

One for the Money movie scene

Katherine Heigl tries to figure out what went wrong in One for the Money.

Story-wise, we’re presented with a spunky heroine, Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl, Life As We Know It), a proud, out-of-work Jersey girl who snags a job as a recovery agent at her cousin’s bail bond company. Her first assignment is to track down a murder suspect, former vice cop Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara, TV’s Terra Nova), who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart back in high school. It’s a good thing hunky fellow bounty hunter and tutor Ranger (Daniel Sunjata, TV’s Rescue Me) is on board to help out (and flex!) when the bullets begin to fly…

Heigl’s performance is unspecial but adequate, with her seasoned skills at light comedy beating out her over-cooked Jersey accent by a nose. Everyone else is fine, as well, though a little more energy wouldn’t have hurt.

The Trenton, New Jersey atmosphere is technically on-target, but lit and photographed in such a way that it comes off like catalog photography and not a genuine or threatening environment. Yes, One for the Money is supposed to be a lighter piece of entertainment, but it’s tough to fear or cheer for Stephanie when the backdrop doesn’t pose any threat or texture. And the fine Blu-ray transfer gives the setting an even crisper, safer look.

So, it’s the uninspired, generic nature of the story and scenarios that hit the wall here: Shootout in a run-down boxers’ gym? Searching for clues in a darkened warehouse? Check. Interrogating hookers on the bad side of town? Check. (Oh, and I give two checks for co-star Sherri Shepherd, who nearly bursts out of her streetwalker’s bodice during her scenes). Stephanie flirting with her hex and her colleague but not jumping on either too soon? Check. There’s nothing new here, nor anything different or exceptional.

The bonus package includes two featurettes—an interesting one on the world of real-life female bounty hunters and bond agents, and a standard one on the making of the film. It’s in the latter that co-writer Lix Brixius declares, insanely enough,  that “Stephanie Plum is the most beloved female character in fiction.”  Not long after that, she talks about how she used an abridged version of the book from iTunes as a blueprint to adapt the book into the movie which begs the question, ‘Just how beloved is the character if you’re adapting her from abridged edition of her story?’

Oh well–I don’t imagine there’ll be another abridged adaptation in the immediate future.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.