Monday, October 3, 2011

One for the Money - Is it Worth the Dough?

The movie trailer for One for the Money was released this week on the Internet and yea the fur, it is flying.

First, some background.

One for the Money is a mystery/comedy novel with romantic elements by New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich about Trenton, NJ-native Stephanie Plum. Stephanie has just lost her job as a lingerie buyer for a department store, is about to have her Miata repossessed for back payments, and is desperate to avoid moving back home to The Burb. To avoid this horror, she signs on as a low-level bounty hunter, chasing down the skeevy skips that populate the capitol city of the Garden State, everything from flashers to mob enforcers to a recently-divorced depressed woman who robbed a truck full of Cheetos.

Her first job is apprehending fugitive cop Joe Morelli, a reformed bad boy (though not too reformed) who, as a teenager, relieved Stephanie of her virginity behind the counter at the local donut shop. She paid him back by running him over with her dad's Buick thus breaking his leg.

To bone up her bounty hunter skillz, she asks Ranger, bad ass Cuban bounty hunter extraordinaire who'd like to relieve Stephanie of just about everything else, to mentor her in his mysterious ways. Along the way to getting her man, Stephanie partners with a former hooker who thinks Cluck in a Bucket is diet food, watches every car she touches catch on fire, and discovers that pineapple upside-down cake can pretty much solves just about every problem.

I highly - highly - recommend this series (up till about book 12, but that's a different post) and not only because it's set in New Jersey (holla!). It is fast and sweet and laugh-out-loud, pee-your-pants funny and if that's not enough to draw you in, well, you've got a real problem (though I hear there's an app for that).

You might assume, based on this, that I would be thrilled to have it made into a movie. Cautiously excited would be a better description. They'd better do it right, I thought with typical Jersey ferocity.

Of course, they didn't.

[Click the jump to see the trailer]

First of all, it's being filmed in Pittsburg - Pittsburg - and not New Jersey. Apparently, we can host the loathsome and nauseating antics of non-Jersey skanks down the shore, but we can't benefit from a potential franchise that is originally based in our state. Then there's the cast - but I'll get to that in a minute. And now this trailer.

We've got a blonde actress with questionable leading power dyed to be a brunette, an Irish actor for the Italian cop, dyed to be a brunette, and a full-of-himself charmer for the deadly bodyguard. Mostly, I like Katharine Heigel and have to say after seeing this trailer I'm not as completely opposed to her in this role as I was initially (though I can name at least three other actresses better suited for it). I've been fond of Jason O'Mara (currently headlining Terra Nova) since he played Stiles on The Agency and unearthed the Monarch of the Glen episodes that feature him too. He is not Joe Morelli. And I've never connected with Daniel Sunjata, (though that may be more the roles he plays than the man himself) and hate that he's playing Ranger (especially when Benjamin Bratt would've rocked this role).

Then there's the wink and the cupcake.

These are the two moments in the trailer that put me on high alert. Ranger winks at Stephanie; Morelli calls her cupcake. Straight outta the book.

Except it isn't.

In the book, when Ranger winks at Stephanie, it's hot. Ranger is sex on the hoof and that signature wink is so steamy, it could straighten Stephanie's naturally curly hair.

Cupcake is Morelli's pet name for Stephanie and when he uses it, it's hot. Morelli is a walking pheromone; when he walks into a room, women look around for flat surfaces to lay down on and Stephanie herself usually reaches for her zipper automatically.

In this trailer, both these moments are played for cute. Cute. These men are far from cute. Worse, I think this is indicative of the entire movie's flavor and that, well, that would be tragic.

I don't expect a movie based on a book to be a direct play by play of the source material; different mediums require different approaches and what plays on the page doesn't always sizzle on the screen. I do expect it to carry the same ethos, to get the rhyme and rhythm of the book, to personify its essence before our eyes. Fans of the book are the built-in audience for this flick; piss us off at your own peril.

Trailers are made to draw an audience. It's marketing and marketing can be manipulated, much like a book blurb, to entice the largest amount of viewers. Everyone has gone to a movie at some point only to discover it's nothing like what was advertised. If we're lucky, this will be the case for One for the Money. As it stands, this looks to be a movie made for the box office, not for the material or the characters, and one that is likely bound to disappoint.

Though for once, I really hope I'm wrong.


  1. Yep. I'm prepared for a crashing disappointment, though I'll go see this film. Wrong, wrong, WRONG casting (Grandma Mazur is more like a naughty-minded chicken in a hot-pink jump suit than the put together, plump Debbie Reynolds. And Ranger DOES. NOT. WINK OR SMIRK. Nuh uh. Heigle may work. O'Mara looks the part (and seems wickedly funny enough) for Morelli. Connie & Lula - may work. Direction will be the killer or the savior of this film and I have my doubts. This book, too, has some very dark moments. If it is played strictly for laughs without the Benito Ramirez tingles of fright, well, it just won't work. Looking forward to Leguizamo, though! That's cool casting.

  2. Exactly! If it's played on for the laughs and the romance, it misses huge pieces of what made the book great and that's just a crying shame.

    Thanks for the (double) comment! ;-)

  3. Disclaimer: I haven't read the books. That said, why does everyone have to sound like they're from Joisey? And if these books are set in Trenton, chances are they'd sound more like they're from Philly. My pet peeve. I'm going to wait for the reviews.

  4. I share that peeve. The easy answer? Because they have absolutely no clue what they're doing and stereotypes are easy.

  5. I actually thought the trailer looked BETTER than what I'd pictured in my head (which shows you how low my expectations are for this movie).

    Not filming in Jersey doesn't bother me because there are reasons why productions can't film where they want. (Who knows what tax incentives Pittsburgh offered that Jersey didn't?) Hopefully the flavor of the scenery is the same.

    The casting was definitely a head scratcher, and I have a hard time seeing O'Mara as Morelli. But they're actors (duh) so let's hope they transform into the characters we know and love.

    What worries me is that this was originally slated as a summer 2011 release, then got pushed back to Jan 2012...which if you know anything about the movie industry is the dumping ground for all movies that suck the big one.

    Not a good sign. BUT I'll be there on opening day!

  6. I didn't know the release date had been pushed back! Not a good sign, indeed.

    I realize as actors, it's their job to make the characters believable, but when you have roles like these where so many people have already played "who would you cast?", to go off the reservation at the very basics doesn't bode well.

    One way or the other, we'll find out...

  7. I haven't read the book yet, although I own the first three in the series (in an omnibus) and they're on my TBR shelf as we speak.

    The trailer looked mildly entertaining...but it sounds like I'd better watch the movie BEFORE I read the book.

  8. Kiersten You are speaking directly to my heart. I've been scared of this movie coming out since the cast was announced. My biggest concerns are also with actors chosen for Morelli and Ranger. I don't think these two will do it. I can cut slack for O'Mara, but Ranger needed to be spot on.

    As far as who would I cast: I'm thinking a Mark Wahlberg type for Morelli. Just the build, but Mark could probably pull it off.
    Antonio Banderas would have made a great ranger about 10 years ago. Now I'm not so sure if anyone would fit the bill.

  9. I was thinking Benjamin Bratt would've made an excellent Ranger. As for Morelli, well, Eddie Cahill, Peter Facinelli (w/out the blonde Twilight makeover), or even Boreanaz. All 3 are Italian-American (though Cahill's blue eyes wouldn't work) are in sync w/O'Mara's age. Of course, I'd love to have seen Joe Manganiello in the role, but I'm biased that way. ;-)

  10. If you haven't read them yet, Witchy, I would DEFINITELY wait and see the movie first. In my experience, almost every time I've read the book first, I've been disappointed and nearly every time I've seen the movie first, I've liked them both.

  11. read all the books twice and laughed my head off. did not agree with casting in any way. I see morelli like a young john stamos I don't know who could play ranger he is too hot to duplicate. Heigle as steph -- no cannot even think who could do it justice. but the books are great too bad casting was so sour -- could have been a great tv series