One For The Money

Never was there a more apt title, particularly as I’ve read that Katherine Heigl was paid something in the region of $15 million to star in it (and took a producer credit too). One For The Money is a bloated mess of a movie that somehow cost something like $40 million to make and yet looks and feels like a tv-movie of the week. Indeed there’s nothing here that the average cop tv show of the ‘seventies couldn’t have done much better.  Lightweight to the point of floating off into the stratosphere, this was a pretty dire romantic/comedy/thriller with a plot so aimless I lost track by the mid-way point.

Based on a popular series of books (eighteen of them, I’m told, which would infer great popularity but I’ve never heard of them, guess I’m out of the cultural zeitgeist for sure), featuring a sassy, badass rookie bounty hunter by the name of Stephanie Plum, One For The Money was evidently an attempt to launch a series of movies aimed squarely at a female demographic- it’s a typical ‘chick-flick’ movie.  But why a major Hollywood movie? Why not a tv show?  I can see how the format would have well-suited a tv series (something as light-hearted as Chuck, for instance) and the way it sets everything up it just feels like a pilot for a tv-show. Up on the big screen it seems rather vacuous and pointless. There’s no attempt at art here, or any pathos, it’s just very dumb fun, and you get the feeling its everything the film-makers wanted it to be, a movie made with expectations as much toward video sales as cinema tickets, as much towards Sunday afternoon Network tv showings as an audience in front of the silver screen. I’ve hardly seen a film more ‘straight to video’ than this one.

When did Hollywood start aiming its aspirations so low? I remember back in the ‘seventies when Star Trek:The Motion Picture was being advertised- the words  ‘The Motion Picture‘ really meant something back then. Regardless of how the actual film turned out, when it was being made there was a chasm of difference between a tv series/tv movie and a Hollywood Motion Picture (well, there at least seemed to be).  But things have changed so much since then. There doesn’t seem so much of a gap between television and movies anymore (indeed, Cable Television in particular can be argued to surpass in quality what is seen in a cinema these days).

That One For The Money could be so lightweight and yet somehow cost $40 milion and still feel like a tv-movie, well, there’s clearly something wrong. I’m not suggesting it had to have a $100 million budget and loads of bang and fx and stunts etc, but really, I’m suggesting it shouldn’t have been a movie at all. It should have been a tv pilot.   If  I’d paid £16 to watch this at the cinema with my wife I’d have felt I’d been robbed; even for a Blu-ray rental it felt like a wasted hour or so, but I can hardly imagine how I would have felt departing a cinema having paid to watch this. There was just the impression that no-one was really trying, as if it were just about the pay-packet for the cast and crew, and perhaps an easy buck for the studio jumping on a popular book series.

Most distressing of all though- Katherine Heigl isn’t a bad actress, and she’s certainly easy on the eye, but really, $15 million? Is the world mad? The more I read about the inflated salaries of Hollywood’s supposedly A-list talent the more I shake my head at the insanity.  I don’t blame Heigl particularly;  God knows so many others are getting paid similar amounts, the numbers they are paying the likes of Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler are just shocking, frankly, considering their ‘talent’ and the horrible films they are in.  Is Hollywood so awash with cash that it can waste dollars like that on a generation of actors that are, frankly, utterly inferior to those of past generations?  I’m sure some directors could make an entire movie for $15 million, and a better movie than One For the Money at that.

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