out of Five
Running time: 91
Engaging blend of chick flick and detective thriller that more or less succeeds, thanks to a winning performance from Katherine Heigl, a wisely chosen support cast, a strong sense of its New Jersey setting and a decent script, though a chase scene or two wouldn't have gone amiss.
What's it all about?
Directed by Julie Ann Robinson and based on the best-selling book by Janet Evanovich (one of a series of eighteen and counting), One For The Money stars Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, a recently divorced, ex-lingerie buyer from Trenton, New Jersey, who takes a job as a bail bondswoman-slash-bounty hunter at her cousin Vinnie's (Patrick Fischler) firm in order to make ends meet. She immediately lands the case of wanted local cop Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), who just happens to be a figure from her romantic past.
However, when she catches up with him, Joe outwits her and escapes, but not before he's protested his innocence, so Stephanie turns detective in order to solve the case and clear his name, while still collecting her share of the bounty for turning him in. Along the way she receives help from a variety of sources, including her feisty grandmother (Debbie Reynolds), sassy streetwalker Lula (Sherri Shepherd) and handsome fellow bounty hunter Ranger (Daniel Sunjata).
Attempting a blend of chick flick and detective thriller is no mean feat, but director Julie Ann Robinson just about pulls it off, even if it's weighted slightly more towards the former than the latter. Heigl is engaging and likeable as Stephanie and she has strong chemistry with both O'Mara and Sunjata (the film has something of an equal opportunity approach to eye candy – yes, there's a scene where Heigl is handcuffed naked in a shower, but there are also two good-looking male leads).
There's also strong support from a superb cast that includes Debbie Reynolds (who steals all the best lines as Grandma Mazur), John Leguizamo (as fight promoter Jimmy Alpha) and Sherri Shepherd (very funny as Lula). On top of that, the script follows the tried and tested detective story route (asking questions, getting threatened, avoiding death, frequent corpses), while Robinson conveys a strong sense of the New Jersey setting, both in terms of thick Noo Joisey accents and the locations.
That's not to say the film is entirely without flaws – there's no real sense of danger, for example and a chase scene or two wouldn't have gone amiss either. It's also not quite as funny as it ought to be and Stephanie's breezy narration doesn't work quite as well as a voiceover as it does in the books.
While by no means perfect, One for the Money is an enjoyable, well acted blend of chick flick and detective thriller that deserves a shot at a franchise. Worth seeing.