Making the Grades
In an effort to fill theater seats, moviemakers often attempt to appeal to the widest possible audience. So combining romantic comedy with a little action is understandable in One for the Money. Unfortunately, the violence gets far too graphic for this light entertainment option when men push a woman out of a truck after severely beating her. Later a character is repeatedly shot in the chest and another dies in a car bomb explosion.
If the plot seems familiar, that’s also understandable. In 2010, Gerard Butler takes on an almost identical role as The Bounty Hunter who is sent to bring in his bail-jumping ex-wife played by Jennifer Aniston. The film tanked with critics and didn’t do much better with the paying public. Sadly Katherine Heigl and Jason O’Mara’s characters in One for the Money may not fare much better.
For one thing, it’s hard to believe someone so naïve and overdressed as Stephanie Plum (Heigl) could ever expect to make it as a “recovery agent.” Sporting high heels, she minces into her cousin’s (Patrick Fischler) bail bond office and asks for a job. Of course the case she is most interested in involves Joe Morelli (O’Mara), a wanted cop who took her virginity on the floor of a bakery when she was 17. While the $50,000 recovery fee is attractive for the financially struggling woman, the thought of meting out revenge for being dumped doesn’t hurt either. But when Stephanie starts to ask too many questions in the seedy neighborhood where Joe hides out, bad things begin to happen to the people who talk.
Sexual tension arises between the hunter and the hunted—or at least that’s what we’re supposed to believe. But what audiences get is a stream of sexually suggestive quips and gags. (One of Stephanie’s other cases involves an old man who refuses to wear clothes, resulting in the unveiling of some saggy male buttocks. Partial female nudity is also exposed when a naked Stephanie is handcuffed to her shower rod by one of the disgruntled individuals she is after.) Profanities also riddle this script, along with crude terms for sexual activities and a couple of rude hand gestures.
In this fish-out-of-water tale swimming with exaggerated characters like a meddling, mildly delusional grandmother (Debbie Reynolds) and a cocksure fellow bounty hunter (Daniel Sunjata), Stephanie’s ineptness is played for comedy—at least until a decomposing body is found. Then this chick flick turns rancid faster than you can say, “Hands up Morelli.”
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about One For The Money.
How realistic is this portrayal of the bail bond business? What stereotypes does this movie support? What job qualities does Stephanie bring to this position?
What dangerous things does Stephanie continue to do, even though she is supposed to be afraid for her life? What is the likelihood that she would be able to evade the thugs who are after her?
This movie mixes romantic comedy with action. Does this combination work for you? What other films do this more successfully?