Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book to Movie: One for the Money

I recently saw "One For the Money" starring Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara and Daniel Sunjata, a frothy quasi-chick movie based on the first book by Janet Evanovich in her 'Stephanie Plum' series of chick-lit mysteries.

It should be noted that I read the Stephanie Plum books over a decade ago--I stopped around volume 7 or 8 and haven't picked up the books since then.  Much like the Southern Vampire/Sookie Stackhouse mysteries I grew a bit tired of the premise and the seemingly constant guy ping pong Stephanie indulged in between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

The Book

Originally published in 1994, One For the Money, is the first in the Stephanie Plum mysteries about a lingerie department buyer turned bounty hunter living in a section of Trenton, NJ affectionately named 'The Burg'.   The Burg, short for 'Chambersburg' in South Trenton, was a diverse section of immigrants, though most people associate Italian-Americans as being a larger part.  Nowadays the Burg has a much more Latin/Hispanic population, many of the other cultures moving further into the Hamilton area of Trenton.

For the purposes of this novel however its a largely Italian-American population (which when I was growing up in the early to mid-90's was the truth still more or less).

The Movie

Optioned in 2010 and released in 2012, the movie follows Stephanie Plum, recently fired Macy's lingerie department manager, as she attempts a new career in the Bail Enforcement line of work and taking place primarily in 'The Burg'.  Important to note, though there are some general shots of Trenton in the film, its principally filmed in Pittsburgh.  Which is a lot cleaner, friendlier and more spacious than the Burg ever could hope for. 

Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie Plum, Jason O'Mara plays Joe Morelli and Daniel Sunjata plays Ranger with various other character actors playing other parts.  I thought Katherine Heigl did a pretty job as Stephanie and Daniel Sunjata wasn't horrific as Ranger (they made Ranger a lot more chatty, smirky and helpful in the movie than in the book) but he was not sex on two legs.  Jason O'Mara?  Who I enjoyed as Wesker in Resident Evil (3): Extinction, but who I detest in Terra Nova (then again I detest EVERYONE in that show), was not my idea of Morelli. He comes off less like this walking sex god charmer and more like a smirky 'come on baby' smooth talker.

There's some amusing bits, but the movie tries too hard to be everything.  It doesn't balance the humor and the action and the somewhat tragic circumstances that Stephanie falls into on a regular basis.  She had no chemistry with either Joe or Ranger, these are some of the most un-Italian American Italian-Americans I've ever seen.  They don't even do stereo-typing right.

Taken on its own the movie isn't god-awful.  If you've never been to Trenton (or New Jersey) the movie may even convince you that the city isn't as bad as they say.  But knowledge of the books, the city, the state and hell the places they so casually toss around soured my opinion.