One for the Money

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
One for the Money Movie Poster Image
Lackluster bounty hunter romp has some startling violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2012
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's chief message is that it's never too late to try something new (like a career), as long as you commit to it, ask for help from experts, and keep trying. Despite being called "cupcake" and underestimated by all of the men in the movie, Stephanie prevails.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Stephanie is plucky and doesn't let others' low expectations get her down; she does her best to learn how to be a good recovery agent.


The first half of the movie has some gun violence (a couple of the scenes are played for laughs) and pushing. Things ramp up in the second half: There's a car explosion that kills a character; two men are shot off camera, and their dead bodies are shown; another character is fatally shot; and there's a violent fight in which one person is bloodied and bruised and the other is pepper sprayed to unconsciousness. A body (not shown) is discovered stashed in a container.


Although there's no actual sex or even kissing, there are regular references to sex, prostitution (two prostitutes are prominently featured in several scenes), a high-school sexual encounter, and a sexual fantasy. One sequence focuses on Stephanie being handcuffed naked to a shower rod (her body is shown in profile, with her hand covering only her breasts). An elderly nudist's bare bottom is shown as he's taken into custody. Morelli attaches a wire to a shirtless Stephanie; viewers see her bra and a close-up of her cleavage.


Frequent use of the exclamations "goddamn" and "Jesus Christ" or "Christ," as well as "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "bitch," "t--s," "hell," "crap," "damn," and insults like "idiot," "stupid," "d--k," "whore," and the like.


A few car brands -- Buick, Ford Explorer, Chrysler -- and frequent references to Macy's. Stephanie drinks Yuengling beer with Morelli.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug references include a character who opens the door with a bong visible in his apartment; he acts high on pot. References to a heroin dealer, and in one scene the heroin is discovered and discussed. Stephanie and Morelli drink beer together, and wine is consumed by adults gathered for dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that One for the Money is a mystery comedy based on the best-selling Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich. Following a Jersey girl (Katherine Heigl) who's down on her luck until she learns the basics of bounty hunting, the movie offers some empowering lessons about what women can do. But there's some troubling violence in the movie's second half, as well as frequent language (especially "s--t," "a--hole," and exclamations like "goddamn"). Although there aren't any real sex scenes, there are plenty of references to sex, virginity, and prostitution, as well as two moments of partial nudity: one when an elderly nudist shows his bare butt, and the other when the main character is handcuffed to a shower rod, revealing the outline of her naked body (with strategic parts covered by her free arm).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAnnie G. July 13, 2020

One for the money

funny detective work
I like it
Adult Written byDallen02 September 21, 2019

Love it

I love this movie
Teen, 13 years old Written byTara13 July 3, 2014

Want to recommend for the good/funny parts but just to many iffy scenes, :/

Sadly, although i liked this movie for the good parts there was just to many things that were bad. Language, nudity, violence, it was all just a bit to excessiv... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byTotally500 July 18, 2012

one for the money

this is a fine movie bit chessy but still enjoyable

What's the story?

Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) is a Jersey girl with no prospects: She's just lost her job, her car gets repossessed, and she has no love life. But everything changes for Stephanie when her cousin Vinnie (Patrick Fischler) offers her a temporary gig as a bail bond recovery agent. Her biggest score would be to find missing cop Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara), Stephanie's former high-school fling who's wanted for shooting an unarmed criminal while off duty. As Stephanie learns the ropes of her new profession from a seasoned bounty hunter, Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), she realizes that Moretti isn't a killer after all and helps him track down the real criminals responsible for the murders.

Is it any good?

Based on Janet Evanovich's best-selling Stephanie Plum mystery series, this Heigl-produced film is a lackluster adaptation. The script is full of cliches, annoying phrases, and flat dialogue, so even though the actors all try to rise above the shoddy lines, they rarely succeed. Heigl once again proves that Knocked Up and the first couple of seasons of Grey's Anatomy remain her best work; these days she's charming but unable to find a great leading role -- ONE FOR THE MONEY included.

Considering that the book series has several installments, the written Stephanie Plum must be the kind of underdog character you can't help but love. But in this big screen adaptation, she's at times laughably inept or embarrassingly clueless. At least the interactions between Stephanie and Ranger are amusing (particularly when he tries to teach her how the job is done). What isn't as believable is how casually the fatal violence of the climactic scenes is introduced. After being played for comic relief in the first half, the violence escalates to a startling level in the last sequences. But since there's no substance to the plot, viewers may feel the entire story is underwhelming and predictable -- precisely what the mystery genre must avoid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the role that gender plays in the story's appeal. Would the movie work -- or be considered funny -- with a male protagonist?

  • Talk about the movie's violence. Is all of it necessary to the plot? How does the movie's tone affect the impact of its violent scenes?

  • Does the movie make you want to read the books? Parents familiar with the books, discuss any major differences between the novel and the movie.

  • One for the Money shows that someone with little initial knowledge can learn the ropes and succeed in a new profession. What are some other movies that follow a character who slowly but surely becomes an expert at his or her new job?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong heroines

Themes & Topics

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