‘One for the Money’ is dull, disappointing

One for the Money is dull, disappointing

Kira Lubahn

Album and film covers used under fair use exception to copyright laws.
Movies are never as good as the books.
This is especially true of “One for the Money.” The book of the same name by Janet Evanovich is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. The characters are likable and believable, and as the book goes on, the tension never stops rising.
Yet, the movie contains none of these things. Yes, I had high expectations going in and was already disappointed by the casting, but the longer I sat in the theater the more I realized how completely bored I was.
Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl, “Life as We Know It”) lost her job as a lingerie department manager months ago and the bills are piling up. So, with nowhere else to turn, she blackmails her shady cousin Vinnie (Patrick Fischler, “Dinner for Schmucks”) into giving her a job. As Vinnie runs a Bail Bonds Agency, this translates into Stephanie becoming the least-qualified bounty hunter of all time.
She decides to go after the bail jumper with the highest reward: Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara, TV series “Terra Nova). Stephanie and Joe, however, have history. He seduced and dumped her back in high school, and she may have accidentally hit him with her car in retaliation. Problem is, Joe doesn’t want to get caught, and since he’s a cop he has the skills to stay that way. Thankfully for Stephanie, she has Ranger (Daniel Sunjatab, TV series “Rescue Me”), who gives her lessons in bounty hunting.
While the set-up for the plot grabs attention, the actual execution of the story in the film is lacking. There are moments that are meant to be tense and they fall flat. The antagonist, Benito Ramirez (Gavin-Keith Umeh, “Jim), isn’t the least bit scary or intimidating. He feels more like a placeholder than a legitimate threat. The high stakes seem contrived, as if the film is trying too hard to get the audience to feel something. The plot seems forced and fake, nothing like the cleverly crafted story-line contained in the novel.
“One for the Money” also loses to the book with its characterization. Multiple times in the film I wanted to yell at Stephanie for doing something stupid and needlessly dangerous. In the book, Stephanie has a healthy sense of self-preservation and despite all her bumbling is believably capable. In much the same way, the film’s version of Joe comes off as a jerk, instead of the genuinely good guy he is supposed to be.
The only thing that would have saved this film is if it had been rated R instead of PG-13. Because of the lower rating, the witty conversations and sexual innuendos of the book are chopped up, pulled apart and watered down until they’re practically unrecognizable. The actions that are meant to show the audience why Benito is a threat are completely censored in the film. It’s a throwaway comment that he’s been charged with rape three times and never been convicted, yet in the novel the reader believes that Benito is dangerous because of what he says and what he does. The climax of the movie is also completely different than the one in the book, and I can only think that it was changed because the original would not have been allowed in a PG-13 film.
Besides the too low rating, the cinematography is nothing special and the music is cheesy at best. In addition, the film fails to take advantage of some of the funnier side characters, instead making them cheap laughs.
If you want high stakes, hilarious dialogue and a gutsy heroine skip the movie version of “One for the Money” and read the book instead. It’s much better.
By Kira Lubahn