A generation later, it’s tried again, this time trading in author Sara Paretsky for Janet Evanovich. The character is Stephanie Plum, the result is One for the Money, and it should kill her the career of its star, Katherine Heigl (The Ugly Truth), but likely won’t. I like her as an actress, but she has terrible taste in projects.
Laid off six months prior from Macy’s lingerie department, Stephanie is so desperate for a job that she works as a skip tracer for her cousin Vinny’s bail bonds biz. One of her assignments is Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara, TV’s Terra Nova), a former lover and current officer wrongly accused of shooting an unarmed man. After first trying to bring him in, she agrees to help him.
Oh, she also once hit Joe with her car — a never-funny running gag, as are her constant overuse of salt and sucking down Big Gulps. Heigl is note-perfect in the role … if unbelievable, disengaging and ill-accented is what she was going for. She’s proven adept at comedy in the past, but not only do her skills not help here, they aren’t even present. Simply running in heels and/or digging through her purse aren’t the knee-slappers director Julie Anne Robinson thinks them to be.
The most unpleasant element to Money is how it looks down at anyone unlucky enough not to be as attractive as Heigl (despite her orangey skin sheen a shade away from Oompa-Loompa) or the male characters who have plucked or will pluck the Plum. The African-American hookers are pure cartoons to the point of insult; Debbie Reynolds does the batty Betty White thing, playing the unsound mind thing for laughs, like nearly shooting a houseguest with a gun from Stephanie’s purse (which Stephanie fails to inform her grandmother is loaded as the old woman waves it about carelessly, looks straight down its barrel, etc.).
The film is a jumble of exposition, best represented by a joke nearly 20 years past its expiration date, in which Stephanie tells Joe he looks like the Unabomber. One big bomb, this definitely is. —Rod Lott