[Screen It]


(2012) (Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara) (PG-13)

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Action-Comedy: An unemployed lingerie saleswoman tries her hand as a bounty hunter, and her first assignment puts her on the trail of a former lover.
In Trenton, N.J., Stephanie Plum (KATHERINE HEIGL) is newly divorced and has lost her job as manager of the lingerie department at her local Macy's. Strapped from cash with her bills coming due, she decides to go to her cousin Vinny (PATRICK FISCHLER) who operates a bail-bond business. Intrigued at the amount of money bounty hunters/skip tracers can make, she decides to try and collect a bounty on Joe Morelli (JASON O'MARA), a former flame she once ran over with her car after he took her virginity back in high school.

Joe is an ex-cop accused of shooting an unarmed drug dealer. But he is innocent and is working on bringing down a local heroin ring possibly involving a local gym owner named Jimmy Alpha (JOHN LEGUIZAMO) and Hernandez (GAVIN-KEITH UMEH), a small-time boxer turned enforcer. His investigation is complicated by Stephanie's bumbling efforts to insinuate herself into the case after learning about the various players from local prostitutes Lula (SHERRI SHEPARD) and Jackie (RYAN MICHELLE BATHE).

At the same time, she has to continually explain herself to her worrying mother (DEBRA MUNK), exasperated father (LOUIS MUSTILLO), and meddlesome grandmother (DEBBIE REYNOLDS). She also shares a flirtation and a friendship with Ranger (DANIEL SUNJATA), who tries to teach her the tricks of the trade and save her from herself as she gets deeper and deeper into the local crime scene.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a paragraph or two about the film's artistic merits.

"One for the Money" could have been a ladies' version of "Fletch," the great 1985 action comedy that featured Chevy Chase as a glib reporter on the trail of corruption in L.A. But there is no spark here. It's all forced wit and listless plotting. And it's all brought to the screen by a cast of mostly third stringers who are like stand-ins for the real stars that were likely offered this property first and wisely turned it down.

Author Janet Evanovich's working-class heroine Stephanie Plum is played by Katherine Heigl, standing in for Cameron Diaz or Angelina Jolie (a decade ago, Diane Lane or Marisa Tomei would have owned this role). Stephanie is a recently unemployed lingerie salesperson in Trenton, who decides to try her hand as a bounty hunter. Her first target is ex-cop Joe Morelli, played by Jason O'Mara standing in for Hugh Jackman (a decade ago, Aidan Quinn would have owned this role). Joe, who as New Joisey fate would have it, took Stephanie's virginity from her years earlier on the floor of a bakery, is wanted for supposedly killing an unarmed man. But he's really hot on the trail of a heroin ring.

The film drifts between cutesy scenes of Stephanie learning the tricks of the skip-trace trade (leading to a string of "Oh, I can't find my gun in my purse" scenes) to some surprisingly harsh, bloody violence in which various low-lifes end up shot, brutalized, or blown up in cars. Director Julie Anne Robinson never finds that balance between crime caper and wry, detached cynicism that "Fletch" delivered effortlessly. All concerned try, and for that I give the film a generous 3.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)

Reviewed January 27, 2012 / Posted January 27, 2012

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