A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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?
- In theaters: January 27, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 15, 2012
- Cast: Jason O'Mara, John Leguizamo, Katherine Heigl
- Director: Julie Anne Robinson
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Topics: Adventures, Book characters
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, sexual references and language, some drug material and partial nudity
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.