'One For the Money' Review: Heigl's Grating Jersey Girl No Feminist Role Model

Director Julie Ann Robinson would have been better served if Snooki had been cast as the lead role in her Jersey-based rom-com “One for the Money.” No seriously, at least the reality show darling would’ve added legitimate spunk to the film. Even if they gave Pauly D a quick cameo, that would’ve gained a few laughs from me.

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“One For the Money” is set in blue-collar New Jersey and focuses on Stephanie Plum (Katharine Heigl), a character I can only hope exudes charisma in the Janet Evanovich novel from which the film is based. Heigl (“The Ugly Truth,” “Life as We Know It”) is famous for playing flighty women who are always on the verge of crying, and with her wavering Jersey accent she doesn’t reveal anything new in “Money.”

In the film, Plum goes to her parents’ house almost every night for dinner, and that’s when she drops the bomb that she’s no longer employed. Her mother suggests her daughter hit up her gross bail bonds cousin Vinny and beg for a new gig. Plum ends up scoring a job as a bounty hunter, and her first assignment is to track down town heart-breaker Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara), the guy to whom she lost her virginity. What a coincidence.

Morelli is a cop believed to have killed an unarmed man. While Plum is willing to do anything to help her financial and personal problems, she takes the case in hopes of gaining $50K for Morelli and maybe rekindle their high school romance. What a fabulous message to send to the modern woman!

Classic cinema star Debbie Reynolds (“Singing in the Rain”) shows up in a few scenes as Plum’s grandmother. She garners her laughs, then exits. If only each actor’s performance was less forced like hers, maybe the movie wouldn’t have been such a drag to sit through. However the actors could certainly blame director Robinson (“The Last Song”) for never letting “Money” beat to the sound of its own drum.

The film’s supporting characters are thrown into Plum’s sad life and aren’t even given anything to do. Irish born O’Mara (“Terra Nova”) and Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me”), who plays the Ranger who shows Plum the bounty hunter ropes, are put in for male eye candy.

“Money” is basically “The Bounty Hunter,” the lackluster rom-com starring Gerard Butler and Jennifer Aniston, which says a lot about this movie. I’m sure Evanovich’s novel is charming and a fun read, but the film version was barely watchable.

Perhaps this is simply a story that shouldn’t have made the transition to the big screen. Or, maybe a different director and lead actress would have made the film less groaning to watch.