It was with great trepidation that I went to the theater to see One for the Money, based on the first book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I haven’t exactly been circumspect about what I thought of the casting – for Stephanie Plum, Ranger and Morelli. Heck, I even posted my own choices for the main characters. Because I thought the film-makers were completely off target on most of their choices, I hadn’t planned to see the movie.
But then I saw a couple of bloggers, bloggers who enjoyed the books, post that they liked the movie. I decided to keep an open mind and check it out.
To my surprise, I didn’t hate it. Now, before you think I’m giving it a full endorsement, let me say that I didn’t love it, either. There were some things that the film-makers did well, and some that they didn’t. First, the script – the screenwriters did a pretty good job of adapting the book, in spite of a slow beginning. I wasn’t crazy with how it started out – the first dinner scene at Stephanie’s parents’ house was awkward and not funny, and that’s mostly because the casting for Mr. and Mrs. Plum and Grandma Mazur just wasn’t right.
Debbie Reynolds is a fantastic actress, but she is no Grandma Mazur. She’s not nearly old and shriveled enough, and is too va-va-voom. In the book, when Grandma Mazur raves about wanting a thong, it’s funny because you can’t imagine this old, prune-like woman wearing one. When Debbie Reynolds makes the crack, you figure she’s probably already got a couple dozen.
Next, Mr. Plum. I always pictured Kevin Arnold’s dad from The Wonder Years – the strong and silent type who expresses his irritation in grunts and pissed-off expressions. He hardly says a word in the books, and it’s only when he’s been pushed way past his limit. In the film, Mr. Plum complains about Grandma Mazur in a whiny voice – it doesn’t have quite the same effect. Mrs. Plum was okay, but nothing spectacular.
Okay, let’s talk about a few characters they got right: Vinnie, Lula, and Connie. None of these characters make huge appearances in the film, but they all were cast well and I can see how funny they would be in the sequels. Also, Benito Ramirez – the actor who played the boxer-slash-murderer-slash-rapist was very creepy and shudder-inducing.
Now, my apologies to all of you who had held out hope that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would play Ranger, but I could never picture him playing the part. Yes, he has the build, but he’s not Latino. Daniel Sunjata was absolutely perfect as Ranger – I hope they make a sequel simply so I can see him in the role again!
My biggest surprise was how much I bought Jason O’Mara as Joe Morelli. I know, I know, O’Mara is so Irish he’s barely lost his accent, and he doesn’t have brown eyes like melted chocolate, but he gets Morelli. The way he carries himself, the way he can switch from completely pissed to turning on the sex appeal, the way he says, “cupcake”…. I actually LOVED him as Morelli. So sue me.
Of course, that just leaves Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. And I still believe that this was a casting mistake on the part of the producers. She wasn’t as horrible as I expected, but she wasn’t Stephanie either. She acted like Stephanie, but she didn’t become Stephanie, if that makes any sense. Her accent came and went – mostly went – until she hit a funny line, and then it was like she was doing a Robert De Niro impression, and not a good one. There were a few scenes where she was good – the scene with Benito Ramirez, the scenes with Lula, and she did have good chemistry with both men. I think she could get better – but, just in case any of the producers are reading my blog looking for advice for a possible sequel – she needs to drop the accent. If she can’t get it, she should just use her own voice and the New Jersey euphemisms – it will sound much more authentic than a really bad accent that comes and goes.
So, there you have it – it wasn’t everything I could have hoped for, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected, either.
(One other little nit-picky comment: pronunciation of names. Because I listened to all of the books on audio, I heard names like Kuntz and Mazur pronounced by Lorelei King, narrator extraordinaire, and was bugged when they were pronounced differently in the film.)