by Deborah Harter Williams
Special coupon for Dinuba Platinum Theatre at the end of this review.
If you have ever enjoyed one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels (there are eighteen of them so you’ve had plenty of chance), you owe it to yourself to check out the movie and for added fun, see it with a similarly inclined friend.
It’s a great visit back to the old neighborhood (“The Burg”). While not everyone is just like you remembered, it was remarkably faithful to the book and fun to see the characters brought to life. Between costumes and casting the producers really pulled it off. I could not imagine how they would be able to personify the larger-than-life Lula but Sherri Shepherd (The View, 30 Rock) did it with style and her outfits were spot on Lula.
There were plenty of wonderful character vignettes, frequently short but well crafted – hats off to John Leguizamo, Fisher Stevens, Leonardo Nam and the truly menacing Gavin-Keith Umeh. In spite of their collective quirks, they came across as real people – Grandma (okay Debbie Reynolds was more twinkles than wrinkles), Vinnie, Connie, Mom/Dad, and Eddie – all recognizable. They took their characters seriously but seemed to be having a lot of fun, and for me it was contagious.
The film was full of loving details culled from the books – the cupcakes intercut with overdue bills in the opening titles, Rex’s cage, Stephanie’s underwear, the blue Buick and the cookie jar – and special kudos to whoever designed Bernie’s hair. The directing was restrained – no cheap laughs and some real moments of tension and fear. And yes, there are explosions, dead bodies, bloody fights and car crashes for those who appreciate same.
Katherine Heigl rises (and occasionally trips and falls) to the occasion. She captures Stephanie right down to the signature hair move. You could see her evolving from desperate for money and klutzy to savvy, determined and getting a few thrills from her new job. There was some real acting going on here even though the character, by design, is over the top.
Daniel Sunjata brought his usual sexy insouciance to the role of Ranger, and while he wasn’t on screen that much he did a great job of underplaying the notoriously enigmatic man in black. While he does look good in Kevlar one might have wanted a more darkly mysterious portrayal.
You might well want to quibble about whether Jason O’Mara as Morelli was quite as wonderful as one would have hoped. My hope had been for a more Italian-looking guy with smolder. But, I’m not sure anyone could have lived up to the Morelli of one’s mind’s eye. I recommend quibbling with cocktails after the show.
The movie has gotten quite negative reviews, many of which seem to be from folks who had not read the books. Since I can’t unread them, I can only imagine that viewing the film from this vantage point is an entirely different experience. I went to the theater prepared to be disappointed but kept revising my opinion upward as the movie went on. At the end, I stayed for the credits and ran into another Evanovich fan. She was also impressed and said that while she had stopped reading at book 13 she was going to go back and read the rest. Aficionados of Plum adventures will have plenty to like and discuss. Enjoy it with a friend.
One For The Money is now playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website.