Katherine Heigl's career needs a facelift. Although she started off with small film roles, she found her niche with television. Truthfully, she fits in perfectly with the hospital melodrama that landed her on the map - 'Grey's Anatomy' - but unless she's willing to make a change, that's where she needs to stay. The movies that she has done follow one of two molds: Heigl either plays a super uptight bitchy character or she's smack dab in the middle of a by-the-numbers formulaic romance. Something needs to change.
Following suit, she doesn't play the prude in 'One for the Money.' Rather, it falls in the formulaic category. 'One for the Money' is based on the book of the same title by Janet Evanovich. Evanovich has created a very successful series revolving around the character that Heigl plays – Stephanie Plum. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Stephanie is a blue collar girl, which immediately nixes the opportunity for Heigl to play a prude. Instead, she's a tough woman who can carry her own and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty in order to do so. The movie picks up right after Stephanie is fired from her plush lingerie sales position in an upscale department store. With nothing to lose, she accepts a job with her sleazy cousin (who is referred to as "Cousin Vinny" on more than one occasion). The position she wants was recently filled, so Stephanie takes the only other open position as a recovery agent – aka, bounty hunter. In order to score big and stop from being evicted from her apartment, she must go after a highly wanted man who just-so-happens to be one of her exes.
Wait a minute! Isn't this the same idea behind the Jennifer Aniston movie 'The Bounty Hunter.' Yes, which is the reason I feel Lionsgate didn't put much into the marketing of 'One for the Money.' Instead, it seems they simply relied on fans of the book series to fuel its theatrical run. Is it better than 'The Bounty Hunter?' Yes, but not too much better. 'One for the Money' is still formulaic, highly predictable, and filled with nonsense. Let me explain.
Stephanie is hunting down Joe Morelli, the guy that she lost her virginity to as a teenager on the floor of a pastry shop. When Joe failed to call her after their first rendezvous, Stephanie hit him with her car and broke his leg in three places. Now, after holding a grudge for 20 years (or so), Stephanie melts the first time she bumps into him. Being inexperienced, she's unable to bring him in and get her bounty – but even when she's able to, she lets him go. In fact, Stephanie devotes more time to solving the mystery of Joe's case than she does doing her new job.
How's Heigl? Since she's not playing a bitchy character, she's easily tolerable, never annoying. Female audiences may find her actions and reactions cute and funny. The worst part about her performance is the atrocious New Yorker dialect she attempts. But, despite the bad accent, she delivers her lines with a strong comedic cadence. Most of the dialog in the movie resembles that of a gumshoe detective movie – and it works well for the story at hand. Presumably taken word for word from Evanovich's novel, the banter between characters is fast, witty, and funny, seldom leaving you more than a split second to catch the jokes before moving on. Some scenes, in particular those with Stephanie and her family, require you to pay close attention in order to catch everything that's being said. The script itself is much better than any romantic comedies Heigl has done prior.
An odd aspect of the movie is how is paints Stephanie in the violent situations that come with the job. It's understood that she's a tough chick, but it's strange that she doesn't react at all to being shot at, shooting at others, and seeing death take people down right in front of her. The tone of the movie as a whole makes these moments feel very odd. The quirky comedy scoring doesn't help either.
'One for the Money' isn't a movie that a lot of guys are going to be too happy to sit through, but the majority of the woman who give it a shot should enjoy it. This is a movie made by women for women. On that level, it completely works. Mrs. Hickman joined me for the viewing of this Blu-ray and was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it ended up being.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Lionsgate has placed this brand new title on a Region A BD-25, which is very surprising because most new studio titles get the standard BD-50 treatment. Included is a redeemable code for a Digital Copy of the movie. The single-disc eco-Elite keepcase slides vertically into a glossy cardboard keepcase with identical cover art to that which appears in the keepcase. Prior to the main menu, there are unskippable FBI warnings and a Lionsgate vanity reel, as well as skippable trailers for 'What to Expect When You're Expecting,' 'Casa De Mi Padre,' 'Man on a Ledge,' 'Killers,' 'The Switch' and HDNet.
'One for the Money' has been given a sharp and clear 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode presented in a wide 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Despite being crammed onto a BD-25, there is really only one barely noticeable compression flaw – aliasing. Less than a handful of times the slightest amount of flickering can be seen on car grills and tightly wound cloth patterns. That's it. Aside from that, it's quite sharp - so sharp that had there been CG touch-ups to Heigl's face (like in 'New Year's Eve'), they would stick out like a sore thumb again.
Black levels are strong and consistent. Details aren't at all lost in shadows and the colorization is quite explosive. 'One for the Money' features a bland color palette so that the wild primaries introduced burst on the screen. These loud colors are vibrant and alive, but never overly saturated when they're not supposed to be. Only once are they over-saturated, but it's an obvious directorial decision. Stephanie enters a pothead's neon apartment for questioning and all details are consumed by the lighting.
The only non-compression-related flaw I found was an overall lack of depth to the movie's image. You never get that filmic third dimensional feel. Instead, everything appears flat.
Although Lionsgate has been giving most new Blu-ray releases the 7.1 audio treatment, 'One for the Money' is only given a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. It's not bad, but just like the digression to BD-25, it's not on track with other releases from the studio.
As much as I hate generic action-comedy soundtracks (the worst of them being 'Red'), the way that it's mixed sounds fantastic. From the very start, all scoring is mixed throughout the channels, creating a nice dynamic sound that fills the theater. The effects are also mixed in the same manner. Imaging abounds and the surround and rear channels are just as much in use as the fronts and center. Cars screech, bullets whiz and rain falls around the room in spectacular fashion.
The only big issue with the audio is within the dialog tracks. Heigl narrates a chunk of the film, and it always sounds clear and fantastic. But in scenes that contain both narration and dialog, the difference between the vocal levels is made apparent. The narration is much louder than the in-movie dialog, causing you to frequently adjust the master volume to hear everything that's said. Luckily, the narration isn't constant and this really only happens in several scenes.
It appears there are three audiences that are going to enjoy 'One for the Money:' Women, fans of Katherine Heigl's other movies, and fans of Janet Evanovich's books. It isn't as terrible as I predicted it would be, but it sure isn't as entertaining as one would hope. In comparison to the majority of Heigl's other movies, it's slightly better than the others. The story is predictable and the cliché-riddled, by-the-numbers script is, at times, witty and smart. One sure thing is that 'One for the Money' is better than its similar counterpart 'The Bounty Hunter.' The audio and video qualities are both very strong, but could use improvement. The special features are slim, but one featurette in particular will make the Evanovich fans happy. I'd prefer to not watch 'One for the Money' ever again, but if it was between this and every other Heigl movie out there, I'd pick this.