Movie Review: “One for the Money”

1starOn today’s edition of “Smart Women, Stupid Choices,” Katherine Heigl! She left a halfway decent medical soap opera for a string of of increasingly mediocre, decreasingly romantic “comedies” pairing her with increasingly bland leading men.

She may have thought she’d landed a plum (ahem) when she secured the rights to Janet Evanovich’s Jersey bounty hunter heroine Stephanie Plum. But “One for the Money,” which Heigl also produced, is a malnourished exercise in stardom so insecure she surrounds herself with no name actors who make no impression at all.

And didn’t Jen Aniston (even stupider choices) already do a bounty hunter movie?

Not to pick on TV actor Jason O’Mara, playing the cop and ex-beau newbie bounty huntress Stephanie dogs in the film, but who? She’s gone from co-starring with Gerard Butler and Ashton Kutcher to O’Mara, who is competent and easy/hunky on the eyes. But charisma? Chemistry? Zip.

Heigl traded down to TV and “Last Song” sob sister Julie Anne Robinson for a director, and then let her pack Stephanie’s world with the blandest supporting cast ever. That makes for the most colorless movie this side of Oscar favorite “The Artist.” That’s in black and white, for you Heigl fans who don’t get out much.

Stephanie’s lost her job selling lingerie at the Newark Macy’s and just lost her car to the repo guys. She needs a job, cash, or something, at least, to share with her dully, stereotypical blue collar family. Looney granny (Debbie Reynolds, not her finest hour) is the only one who understands.

“Good judgment is or sissies!”

So the hot lingerie saleswoman hits up a relative for a piece of his bail bond business, skip tracing folks who miss their court appearances and cost the bondsman (Patrick Fischler) money. She needs a big score, so she tackles a killer cop (O’Mara) whose bond was pretty steep, a guy she has history with. Yeah, she lost her virginity to Joe Morelli, back in the day. Trenton’s a small town, and Jersey girls and Jersey boys swim in a tiny pond.

“We’re ancient history,” Joe smirks, on seeing his pursuer. “Like the pyramids, baby!”

Stephanie learns on the job, chasing Joe. Sometimes, he schools her. You’re coming after a bad cop, you’d better bring cuffs and a gun. More often, she’s taught by a commando-like bounty hunter who likes to be called “Ranger” (Daniel Sunjata), a potentially colorful character who sets off no sparks in the story or with Stephanie.

The skip tracer movie skips back and forth as Stephanie stumbles into asking questions, befriending hookers, calling in old favors from cops she grew up with and the like. there’s a mixed martial arts connection, a best friend she only meets by phone (that actress fails to register at all), a few glorified cameos (Reynolds, John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens) and a lot of blander-than-bland narration.

“Unfortunately for him, I hold a grudge.”

Heigl could be commended or giving lesser lights in the acting universe their shot, for entrusting this literary heroine with female screenwriters and a female director. But when you’re given a big break, you need to deliver. These women — to a one — suck. Bad screenplay structure, unsnappy “snappy” dialogue, bland characters blandly played.

And there is Heigl, in the center of it all, wisely choosing a character, stupidly thinking that an array of skin-tight jeans a a couple of scenes showing a little skin givve “One for the Money” worth our money.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, sexual references and language, some drug material and partial nudity

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Jason O’Mara, Daniel Sunjata, John Leguizamo, Debbie Reynolds

Credits: Directed by Julie Anne Robinson, written by Stacy Sherman, Liz Brixious and Karen Ray, based on the Stephanie Plum novels of Janet Evanovich. A Lionsgate relase.   Running time: 1:29

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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