About four years ago, I became familiar with Stephanie Plum's Trenton, NJ. The eighteen novels – plus several 'between the numbers' novellas – have all been books I enjoyed to various degrees. So I was definitely in the target audience when One For the Money was adapted for the silver screen.
Stephanie (Katherine Heigl) falls into the bounty hunting profession by sheer necessity. Downsized from her job as a lingerie department manager, she is behind on her bills, relieved of her car, and past due on her rent. She needs some financial stability quick, and would prefer to find another job rather than troll for a husband (much to her mother's dismay).
Her last resort for employment is in her cousin's bail bonds office, tracking down people who fail to appear (FTA) at their court dates. Fortunately, there is one big fish for Stephanie to catch with a fat $50,000 capture fee. Even sweeter is the identity of this skip – Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), who once broke her heart. She got even by breaking his leg with her car, but revenge is best when served again, right? Especially if it's lucrative? Of course!
Stephanie doesn't initially own a gun, can't shoot, unashamedly approaches the 'hos on Stark Street looking for information, and nearly gets assaulted in an MMA cage as she questions the looney tunes fighter Benito Ramirez (Gavin-Keith Umeh) about his missing girlfriend. On the plus side, her first capture is relatively easy to apprehend (though he is an elderly male neighbor who believes in staying in the natural, unclothed state in which he was born, even on the way to the police station to reschedule his court date), she gets some shooting lessons and help on a few captures from expert and very attractive bounty hunter Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), and Morelli actually helps save her bacon a few times.
As a devoted fan, I really enjoyed this movie because it did an AMAZING job with casting. Even though I think Betty White probably would have been better as Grandma Mazur, Debbie Reynolds was convincing as this quirky character. Ana Reeder had Connie's hairdo, cleavage and attitude portrayed to a T. Vinnie Plum – who I'd always imagined as looking somewhat like Leisure Suit Larry – was all I'd expected via Patrick Fischler. And I really liked Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum though I thought she could do with fewer pairs of heels and a couple more pounds on her frame. I also heard a lady a couple rows back complaining Stephanie wouldn't have been wearing the necklace they put on her for the film.
Much like I expect secret passageways and a car chase from an Indiana Jones movie, One For the Money also included a couple scenes with Stephanie's hamster Rex and most of the classic gags from the series:
- Stephanie having to drive Uncle Sandor's giant blue Buick
- A vehicle Stephanie had recently been driving getting destroyed
- Grandma Mazur doing something humorously ridiculous (such as accidentally turning a roast chicken into target practice)
- Ranger calling Stephanie 'babe' and Morelli calling her 'cupcake'
The only thing I was really missing was some Cluck in a Bucket and a box of donuts. Maybe next time.
I have no idea how long it will be until One For the Money will be available in the queue since it's still in major theaters. If you already know you don't like this book series and don't really care for goofy female quasi-crime fighters, I'm not sure why you'd bother to go see it. Unless you have a strange compulsion to see all films in which John Leguizamo has at least a minor role.
p.s. Shout out to Heather Purdum, who was a sport and went to see this movie with me. Even though I nearly lost the parking pass.