A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie from the director of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is aimed more at mothers than kids. But some teens, especially girls who are fans of Queen Latifah or the celebrity circus that surrounds Katie Holmes, might be interested in checking this heist chick flick out. If you're considering a mother-daughter matinee, know that the main characters become unrepentant robbers motivated at first by necessity and later by greed. There are several conversations about sex (or the lack thereof) and a few scenes of passionate kisses, as well as some language (including "bitch") and social drinking.
What's the story?
In MAD MONEY, Diane Keaton is once again a wealthy suburbanite with a $300 haircut and a custom-tailored wardrobe (must be part of her film contracts). But her character, Bridget, can no longer afford the trappings of fine living because her husband, Don (Ted Danson), is out of a job, and, after 30-plus years as a housewife, she has no marketable skills. She desperately accepts a custodian job at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, where she's immediately smitten with the sight of piles of cash. Her eagerness to return to a life of conspicuous consumption leads to a scheme involving herself and two co-workers with access to the money -- Nina (Queen Latifah) and Jackie (Katie Holmes). With just a mail-ordered Master Lock, the three "blue-collar" women start stealing six figures' worth of out-of-circulation bills.
Is it any good?
This light, amusing heist tale may be hard to believe, but as a chick-flick fantasy, it's entertaining enough for a ladies' night out. Director Callie Khouri is an expert at for-women-by-women films, having written and directed The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and penned Thelma and Louise. What's disturbing is that, unlike other women-targeted movies with messages about empowerment and friendship, this one is also about greed. While Nina -- a single mother living in a crummy neighborhood -- has an understandable desire for extra money to a buy a house and pay for tuition at a private school, once Bridget brings herself out of debt, she has no real need to keep going. Neither does Jackie, who seems perfectly content to live in a trailer with her cute and loving husband. Eventually, it becomes all about the lust for stuff -- high-end appliances, custom motorcycles, walk-in closets, and 10-carat diamonds.
The ladies, who are nothing alike but still manage to exude a fun-loving familiarity with each other, make light of their felonious activities by claiming that they're basically "recycling" bills that would've been shredded. Even when they're in custody, it never quite seems that what they've done is criminal, which is a bit ludicrous. Led by Keaton's excitement over initiating the scheme, the trio's infectious glee over hiding stacks of bills in their push-up bras and support panties is surprisingly hard to resist. Even though the film is flawed, it's better than Keaton's other recent comedies, and it's ultimately like enjoying a happy hour with good friends -- brief, funny, and easy to forget.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's theme: that money can buy you happiness. What did it buy the main characters? Did any of them do something good with the money, or were they all equally greedy? According to the product placements seen in the film, what specifically does money buy you? Do you think the movie glamorizes criminal behavior?
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