One for the Money

Released 01/27/2012                              Rated: PG-13

I just started reading this series. The characters stand out to me more so than the mysteries do, but I’m liking it. I remember the poster for this movie, but I apparently don’t remember the trailer because I thought it looked more like a comedy. To be clear, it is a comedy, I just feel like the preview was funnier.

Stephanie Plum is down on her luck having been let go from her job a few months back. Her cousin runs a bail bonds store, but when they don’t have an administrative position available Stephanie decides to become a bounty hunter, tracking down people who have skipped out on their court dates and bringing them in. A flame from high school is an FTA with a huge price on his head, and Stephanie is more than eager to bring him in. Problem is he’s an ex-cop, and she has no idea what she’s doing.

So it feels like we don’t get to really meet these characters, particularly Stephanie and Joe, we just jump right in to the story. Understanding their personalities and their shared history invests us further into the plot. It shines a light on why Stephanie is eager to bring him in, and enforces their dynamic later. For instance: there’s no mention of how Morelli is a charmer. We just see him flirt his way into getting away from Stephanie when he realizes she’s trying to bring him in. I’m all for “show, don’t tell,” but you have to let us in on why Stephanie wants to go after this guy. I will say that Katherine Heigl and Jason O’Mara were both perfect in their respective roles. They really worked well off of each other, too. I’d totally watch another installment if they came back.

Per usual with an adaptation things get altered. For the most part they stayed pretty close to the book, but there are three instances that I have a problem with. The biggest one is Ramirez’s character. They do a lot of telling not showing that he’s psychotic when it comes to women. The movie actually seems to forget about him until it needs him to be a thing again. It’d be one thing if he wasn’t supposed to be woven into the main plot, but he is, so this is a major problem. He’s supposed to be stalking Stephanie because she turned him down at the gym (which I think they could have done that scene better, but whatever.) And while I preferred a certain scene with Lula in the movie, despite the fact that it still reinforces Ramirez’s psychotic nature, it’s not as much as it does in the book. At the very least he should have been calling Stephanie throughout the film, reminding us of his presence and persistence.

The second instance, and this may be nitpicking, is the inclusion of Big Blue. Having read a few installments in to the series I get that the two go hand in hand. I’m not upset that they included the car, but it makes Stephanie’s decision to commandeer Morelli’s vehicle that much weaker. So her car gets repossessed leaving her to buy a cheap klunker that turns out to have a massive oil leak. It’s because she needs both reliable transportation without having to constantly pour oil into the damn thing and a way to lure Morelli to her that she takes his truck. Instead she takes it because she just doesn’t like the Buick that’s been in her family forever. And considering that they don’t even focus on it much, it just doesn’t seem justified to me.

The third is the conclusion. For the most part it wraps up the same, but it works better in the book. I think the reason for that is the fact that this is a movie about Stephanie and Morelli, and it forgets about Ramirez and Alpha until it needs them again. Considering that this takes away from our red herring and reveal it deters from making the pay off seem worth it, and almost makes it seem like it’s coming out of left field.

Anyway, it’s not bad. I only have these hang ups because I’ve read the first couple of books. It’s a fun flick. I’d see another one if they made it, but considering that this one didn’t quite make back its budget that doesn’t look like it’ll happen. I found Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur to be the best part of the beginning. She definitely grounded the character for me. Check it out.

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