One for the Money

To me, the bar was set so high by the 1988 film Midnight Run which starred Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin, that they really haven’t wanted to make more Bounty Hunter films since then. They’d be compared to Midnight Run and come off second best. Oh, every once in a while someone tries; like in March of 2010 we had The Bounty Hunter which starred Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler. Roger Ebert described this movie as ‘drek‘. He said while watching it his ‘eyes glazed over‘. And finally, he said that this “is a film with no need to exist”. Strong words indeed. The rating scorecard on IMDB was 5.2 out of 10 by more than 34,000 viewers.

Well we are now about one month into 2012, and there’s been another attempt to mine some laughter, thrills, excitement, and cash through the sale of tickets to see another film in the Bounty Hunter genre. Released into wide distribution just last Friday, January 27th, was One for the Money. The film’s star is Katherine Heigl, and the film was directed by Julie Ann Robinson who directed some episodes of the hit TV series Grey’s Anatomy.

I can’t give you any quotes from Roger Ebert about this film because he hasn’t reviewed it yet. Most likely, that’s because he hasn’t seen it, as the producers chose to not make it available for press screenings. So far on IMDB, 796 viewers have rated this film, and the collective score averaged out at 4.9 out of 10. That’s an even lower score than The Bounty Hunter which was routinely panned by the critics.

Where to start? There’s very few laughs. In fact the only one I can remember is when Debbie Reynolds,   in this film she’s playing lead character Stephanie Plum’s grandmother – picked up Stephanie’s gun and was waving it around at the dinner table before shooting up the cooked turkey. This might have been more funnier if it had gone off immediately, but instead Reynolds waved it around for a few minutes to ‘set up the joke’. It’s been a long time since Debbie was America’s sweetheart when she starred with Gene Kelly and Donald O’ Connor in Singing in the Rain. That film was released only 60 years ago in 1952. Maybe she got the role because her number was less costly than Bette White‘s. (I’m guessing about that.)

Then, there’s no sex. The ‘hero’, who was the cop named Joe Morelli who skipped bail on murder charges, but instead of high-tailing it out of Trenton, NJ., he stuck around town – he ogled Heigl’s bra-clad figure for a moment or two.  All of which was a set up so he could install a microphone into her cleavage, so she’d be wired. Anything else about sex was only spoken of as a remembrance.

Stephanie came to the bail-bonds recovery business because she was divorced, jobless, and was behind in her rent as well as her car-payments. This is a situation commonly referred to as ‘desperate’.  As she put it to her family, ”I’ll own my car for about another 10 seconds”, and sure enough, the auto repo guys were hoisting it onto their truck seconds later.

She knew nothing about handcuffs, picking locks, or hand guns. But before the film was over she became an expert in all three. She went from selling ladies underwear to apprehending murderers or murder suspects within minutes – ok over a few days.

Its not so much that film was poorly done – I mean it was technically visually ok. The acting wasn’t bad either except for John Leguizamo who mailed it in, Debbie Reynolds who was over the top, and Daniel Sunjata (below) who was fine as Plum’s trainer in the fine arts of recovering bail jumpers. Everyone else, including Heigl, was just passable at best.

The real culprit here is the lame script. I mean Bounty Hunter films should have action, laughs, thrills, and a bit of suspense or surprises. It had little or none of the above. The only thing that is surprising is that I paid money to see this one. It’s not worth the money. They should have entitled it – One for the Money – No Refunds or Exchanges. Two point zero out of five.


14 thoughts on “One for the Money

  1. Nice review!

    I was curious about the film, due to the HUGE popularity of the books. I’ll wait for DVD, if that.

  2. I’m glad that I saw your review before going to theaters. I was very close to getting a groupon to see it for my girl and I. Even then, it seems like it would’ve been a waste!

    • Save it for a DVD rental, or a streaming from Netflix – and even then, you’ll have wasted either time, money, or both. Better yet – wait for it to be in RedBox $1 rentals. Thanks for the comment.


  3. My friends and I saw a deal on GroupOn for this movie and decided to purchase it, make it a group event. Wish I’d seen your review earlier 😦

    On the bright side, it was a cheap ticket (although that should have been a hint)

    • Well if you enjoy a night out with friends, in a group event there’s the good time of before and after the film. Don’t say cheap – say we saved some money! Thanks for the comment.


  4. Even with the hunky Jason O’Mara, I won’t be watching this one. I can’t stand Katherine Heigl anymore even though initially I kind of like her. The Ugly Truth was just horrid, even with my fave actor Gerry Butler in it, I still hated that movie. Without having seen this, I’d agree with your suggested title: One for the Money – No Refunds or Exchanges.

  5. My wife enjoys the books and talked me into watching the movie.
    She said there was a lot that just didn’t seem to ‘translate’ well into film… I guess I can see that. Either way, I think we were both kind of disappointed.

  6. Thanks for the comments. This is a film that hasn’t received a ,lot of positive ink. Yet a lot of folks are going. But they come back disappointed.


  7. Whew. Katherine Heigl is just box office poison — everything she touches seems to turn to shit. Who is this woman’s agent? Great piece, JMM, about what sounds like an awful film.

    It’s a shame because the books are breezy and really funny and set in one of those down-at-the-mouth American cities (Trenton, NJ) that ought to make for a solid and perfectly enjoyable film — the kind of film that gets onto regular rotation on one of those cable channels, like TNT or TBS.

    Just goes to show you that everybody likes to read a nice, solidly negative review every once in a while. It saves us all from that morass of movies that score in the 3 to 3.5 range.

  8. I don’t as a rule give out low ratings – mostly because if the film is that much of a turkey, I won’t see it. But since I see and review so many films on the day they open, I took this one in because I had a scheduling conflict meaning this was the only one I could see on that day. Ergo I handed over the dead presidents and received a ticket. And the rest is history memorialized on my blog. Thanks for chiming in.


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