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Book to Movie: One for the Money

A million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed (1994), a fun little mystery series began; starring Stephanie Plum, the world’s most inept bounty hunter who lived in Trenton, New Jersey. This was a book series that everyone in my family enjoyed. I read it, my mum read it, my sister read it, my father read it and my grandmother read it. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum mysteries were hilarious and fun for all ages (well, sort of, there is some salty language, often death and occasionally some Sexy Times. *mmmmmm Ranger*.) Back in 1994 the only person I could see ever playing Ms. Plum on the big screen was Sandra Bullock. Especially when the movie Miss. Congeniality came out as the role she played there was rather Stephanie Plum-ish. And the only person I could picture playing Grandma Mazur was Estelle Getty (RIP).

Fast forward to today. It’s the year 2012 and we’re on book EIGHTEEN of the series. After many, many years of potential movie rumblings, the first book in the Stephanie Plum series was finally released in theatres. I have to say, not many people that I spoke to over last summer were at all thrilled with the casting of Katherine Heigl as Stephanie. I know I wasn’t. I’m not the biggest fan of her acting and I was sceptical of her ability to pull this off. Never mind the fact that I had no clue who the actors were that were cast as the two leading men, Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) and Ranger (Daniel Sunjata).

I am always wary of books becoming live and large on the big screen. With the exception of Harry Potter, I have yet to ever be satisfied with a movie representation of a book that I love. But after 18 years of loyalty to this series and having so much joy in sharing the books with my Mum, I knew that I had to go and I had to take her with me.

I had the day off on Friday and I had gift certificates left for the cinema, so I called up my Mum and said, “let’s go on a date!” and we did.

Was the movie stellar? Not at all. Did it suck? Not as much as I thought it would. Perhaps because we went in there expecting the worst we were easily appeased by what we saw. I don’t know. I do know that Katherine Heigl didn’t completely ruin the Stephanie Plum role but she did seem like she was phoning it in at times. Sure, Stephanie is from Joizey and can be a bit of a hardass, but she’s also pretty giggly and bubbly in the books. Heigl did not capture the effervescence of the character at all. Sometimes she seemed downright bored with the role. I would have liked way more bubblicious in the representation, but if I ignore that part, she didn’t suck. I could SEE Stephanie Plum by looking at her (and Katherine Heigl looks so much prettier with brown hair if you ask me!) but often her line delivery was lacking and sadly flat.

All of the secondary characters were pretty good, though. I loved the actor they cast for Cousin Vinnie (Patrick Fischler) and although they cut down on the amount of screen time Lula gets (since it’s the first book and she’s not as huge of a role), I thought she would make a great Lula if they keep on making movies (plus, I just happen to like Sherrie Shepherd). I was ok with Debbie Reynolds playing the Grandma Mazur role, though I think they made her too young looking and well-made up. In the books, Grandma Mazur is always in track suits and seems a little less together in the brain than Reynolds portrayed her.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I am all about Ranger. Mmmmmm. But I couldn’t stand him in this movie. I do not find the actor playing him particularly good looking but besides that, he had these awful bags under his eyes and just looked run down and not the healthy, ex-military guy he seems to be in the books.

I was, however, madly in love with Morelli by the end of this movie. Madly. I don’t even like Morelli in the books! I could finally see why Stephanie let him show her the way to heaven on the floor of the Tasty Pastry when she was 17. heh

I don’t think that One for the Money should have been a big screen movie though. I feel like this would have worked much better as a made for TV movie. Heck, put it on HBO or that other one I can’t think of right now, so you can keep the swearing and whatnot if you want, but it doesn’t need to be in a theatre. In fact, the movie itself didn’t even have anything remotely I’M A MOVIE! about it. I felt like I was watching TV the entire time. There was nothing Big Screen about it.

Not to mention the humour, that’s so everything in the books, wasn’t there. I rarely laughed out loud. I think a lot of it was due to the semi-bored and disinterested acting of Katherine Heigl. She just didn’t bring the funny.

I would enjoy move movies in this series if they stuck to TV I think. Maybe perked Katherine Heigl up a little. Gave her some life. Oh, and change the actor for Ranger. I don’t know who I can think of to play him, but I didn’t think this Sunjata guy worked very well.

At least Hollywood didn’t ruin the movie/book experience. They did a half-decent job, but it wasn’t quite right. Of course after 18 years with a series you feel awfully possessive of it and you just want everything to turn out like you have in your head. So not everyone will be happy, I get that.

Overall, I didn’t think this movie was as horrible as I thought it was going to be, but I am certainly happy that I used gift certificates for it and not my own money.

Plus, bright side, I got to have a lovely date with my Mum and I can’t think of the last time we were out together, only us, that didn’t involve some sort of hospital trip. heh

Mum & I

Bottom line? If you don’t mind spending the money and you’re curious, go for it. It’s not as awful as we all thought it would be. If you don’t want to spend the money, just wait for it to some out on DVD or show up on Netflix (or whatever other streaming thing you can get in the US that we Canadians can’t) because I think it would work well on the small screen. Of course, you can’t get those delicious movie theatre nachos when you’re at home though. I go for the nachos myself.

10 comments to Book to Movie: One for the Money

  • I was eagerly anticipating this blog post. When I first heard about this movie I was frightened. Quite frightened. I saw photos for it and was not impressed with their choices for actors or the fact that the movie didn’t seem to come even close to the books. I probably will wait to watch it on Netflix or something but I know I’ll watch it. I just think it is disappointing they couldn’t have made this a fun one considering how hilarious the books are. I’ve embarrassed myself in public laughing over these books. Sheesh.

    • Cat

      I wish I wasn’t so torn about this movie. I didn’t like it but I didn’t hate it. It just needed more pizazz! It was OK, that’s about it. But I can see most of these peolpe working out as the characters develop if they make more. Not Ranger though, I didn’t like him at alL!

  • I’ve only read the first seven books in the series but I was also disappointed by the choice of actors. That being said I still want to see the movie, even if it weren’t all that. It is not in the theaters yet here in Norway, but when it is I’m going to ask my sister out on a date. I’m so happy I read your posts, now I can be pleasantly surprised since my expectations is very low.

    By the way your mum looks like such a wonderful person! The kind that just radiates that she is a nice person 🙂 And you look so much like her!

  • I am glad you enjoyed the experience! I have read the first book in the series, but I haven’t read on. It is just too long and I am in the midst of too many other series. Maybe one day.

    • Cat

      It seems long, but these books are super duper fast reads and great when you need a pick-me-up and a laugh. Just sayin’. heh

  • Yay for Mumi time!

    So sad to hear it’s not funny.

  • I’ve been hoping this wouldn’t be too terrible, since I love the Stephanie books so much. Glad it was okay, and it’ll be good to see it with realistic expectations. Plus hey, a fun outing with your mom!

  • Mummy

    What a well-written and balanced review. I agree with everything you said! Plus I had FUN too! 🙂

  • I had heard mixed reviews of the movie, and like you, I wasn’t thrilled with Katherine Heigl in the lead. But I’ve only read a couple of the books so I’m not as invested as you. But I still hoped to see a laugh-out-loud funny adaptation and I’m sad to hear that this isn’t it. I’ll still see it, but I’ll probably wait for Netflix like you suggested. Great review! (And Ranger is so yummy, and that guy is totally not Ranger!) 😉