Jersey Girls make good with the lively movie version of best-selling author Janet Evanovich's "One for the Money," which sets up Trenton bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to hang out her shingle for an on-screen franchise.
Adroitly adapted from South River native Evanovich's 1994 novel that introduced the long-running character, "One for the Money" seems even better placed in the down-market America of the 21st Century. As Plum, charismatic Katherine Heigl is a laid-off lingerie buyer, one step behind the bill collectors, looking to get her head back above water.
On her latest visit for her dinner at her parents' tiny Chambersburg house, Stephanie belatedly delivers the bad news about her job moments before the sound of chains and gears out front announces her car is being repossessed. It is one of the charms of this movie and Evanovich's books that Stephanie knows the repo man, and almost everyone else in the neighborhood.
Stephanie' colorful family includes Debra Monk as her would-be matchmaker mom, Louis Mustillo as her long-suffering dad, and crucially, Debbie Reynolds as her irrepressible Gradma Mazur. She's apt to try out Stephanie's new handgun by shooting the roast chicken dinner.
That Stephanie now has a handgun comes from following her parents' advice, and reluctantly seeking a job with her sleazy cousin Vinnie, the bail bondsman, the expertly cast Patrick Fischler in a part only he should play.
Speaking of well-cast, Stephanie's first assignment brings her together with two of the more impressive hunks working today. For very personal reasons, she insists on going after disgraced vice cop Joe Morelli, played by Jason O'Mara with enough twinkle to almost charm Stephanie's pants off — again. He has missed a court date and is on the run after being charged with killing an unarmed man while off duty.
When Morelli eludes her, Vinnie puts her in touch with the ultra-competent, ultra-buff bounty hunter who goes by the name "Ranger." That prompts the repeated question from others, "What is he, an action figure?" As embodied byDaniel Sunjata, he could be. The character, a Cuban-American former Special Forces soldier, doesn't get a lot of backstory this time out, but he is very useful, from buying Stephanie that first gun to releasing her when Morelli handcuffs her naked (more or less) in her shower.
Yes, Stephanie does have a learning curve as she finds the skill set for bounty hunters is slightly different than that for lingerie sales. However, she is not just smart, but resolute. It never occurs to her that she can't handle the job, even if it requires putting her TV-watching to use.
Since the rest of Stephanie's support group consists of her pretty friend Mary Lou (Annie Parisse) via cell phone, and her hamster in an otherwise stripped-down apartment, the new "retrieval agent" also turns to the law and the non-law. Another family connection, cop Eddie Gazarra married to one of Stephanie's cousins, provides information on the case against Morelli.