One for the Money, or a Fan’s Wet Dream

I had been a fan of the books for four years.

I had waited patiently for at least three years.

I had devoured eighteen books, four novellas, and a short story.

The project had been eighteen years in the making.

Finally, after the book was published in 1994, One for the Money was released in theatres January 27, 2012, and I almost peed in my seat out of pure happiness for what the Gods had bestowed upon me.  If you really want to sum up how emotionally attached (potentially to an unhealthy state?) I am to this film, take a minute to look and see how many times I have personally talked about movies on this site.  That’s right, for all two of you that decided to take a gander: Zero.  I haven’t bothered.  And why?  Because One for the Money wasn’t fucking released until just now.  That’s why.

For those of you not familiar with the books, and if you aren’t then you need to go cry in the corner and think about all the things that are wrong with your life, One for the Money is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series written by Janet Evanovich- the patron saint of writing a shit-ton.  This information is already listed above, but it needs repetition:  this woman has written eighteen books in the same series along with four novellas and a short story, because she loves me.  Or maybe because she likes the series, or maybe just writing in general.  I like to think that she does it because she loves me.  Right, Janet?  I’m sure she reads this, you know.

But I’m not on here tonight to praise St. Janet.  I’m on here because this movie rocked, and everyone that still religiously looks at this blog needs to know that.  Now, so far actual critics (also known as unhappy pricks who cry every time they pass a mirror- Also, they smell) have picked apart this film, to the point that it currently has a 0% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes.  That’s pretty rough for any movie.  Strap on the fact that this movie is about a female bounty hunter whose only prior experience is selling lingerie at Macy’s and I have no idea what the hell is going on.

Oh, wait.  I do.

Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, a new bounty hunter whose only prior experience is selling lingerie at Macy’s.  Following so far?  She’s strapped for cash, so she agrees to take on a few failure-to-appears, and the hilarity rolls out.  Also, the guy she’s trying to hunt down happens to be Joe Morelli, a high school boyfriend that she ran over with her car once.  Oh, yeah.  Shit just got real.  And if she can bring Joe Morelli in, she gets $50,000 and a pat on the back for doing it in heels.  I should write chick-flicks.

Now, the movie itself is not a masterpiece.  Yeah, it has tons of flaws, including a beginning that made me think it was going to be the worst thing I had seen since I dreamt I was being attacked by sausages in my sleep.  But the film has something that you can’t quite fully comprehend.  Maybe it’s the setting or the costumes or the cleavage.  Hell, maybe even the lighting designer was just that good.  Part of me, though, wants to put a lot of praise on the cast.

I’ll be one to admit, when someone told me that it was going to be Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, I was outraged.  Then I asked for clarification on who it was and realized the person had not said Sam Kinison.  That would have just been ridiculous.  I mean, he’s a man AND dead.

After Googling to find out who the hell Heigl was, I felt better about the whole thing, and she works in the film.  I found myself getting slightly annoyed with her voiceover work at parts, but she made up for it with the fact that her acting was close to how Stephanie is portrayed in the book.  She’s naïve and not totally sure of herself, but she’s pissed and she has a job that she needs to do.  It worked, and, in the end, you can’t help but find her charming, just like the Stephanie that’s been fleshed out over the years.

Top this off with the fact that the cast also includes Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur, the grandmother you would have if she stopped taking her medication and opened a few bottles of whiskey, and you’ve got the start of a good supporting cast.  I was just happy to see Debbie Reynolds doing something that didn’t have Halloweentown in the title.  Then there’s Debra Monk playing Stephanie’s mother, giving a performance that, again, just seems to fit.   Jason O’Mara, though completely different in look and even style to how I had imagined Morelli brought a different flare to him that made him more human than I had imagined, and I liked that.  It might have had something to do with the fact that I was watching an actor rather than reading a page, but whatever.  Don’t judge me.

The supporting cast has two big stars, though, that deserve special notice.  Ana Reeder as Connie, the file clerk at the bonds office was a bit of brilliance.  When you first see her in the bonds office you’re not quite sure what to think of her.  Sort of like a woman that you need to give a few shots to before she’ll loosen up and tell you the tales of her life at sea.  But it just makes her character even more funny and interesting, and not another smudge on the wallpaper of this film, like she could have easily been.  The other notice goes to Sherri Shepherd.  Playing a hooker must be interesting.  Playing the hooker that is Lula must be a bonkers experience.  From the way she holds herself in those skin-tight outfits, to the careful delivery of her lines, Sherri Shepherd walks away as the most memorable and the best part of the cast.  She has wit and heart, and that’s something that makes the middle of the this film have a bit of a tragic side.

Alright, so I’ve gone ahead and praised this film, but there’s one last thing about it that is the secret to the success of this film.  It’s that the soul of this film is the soul of the book.  The two were written in the same style, and the movie never has a problem using the book as its one and only guide, keeping the sort of things that made the book so damn popular to begin with.  The writers even use tiny things to keep the avid readers of the books smiling, letting us see the world of Trenton that Evanovich has slowly created in the past eighteen years.  That’s right, writers, I saw the Pino’s number listed in Stephanie’s phone- wink, wink.

Most importantly, though, they keep the heart and soul of Stephanie herself.  Stephanie is a character that a lot of people can relate to.  Helpless in most situations, but not one to give up just because things aren’t easy for her.  Mix in some humor and hookers and you have a golden, though slightly imperfect, film.