Published Jan 26, 2012Rather than glibly dismiss the latest Katherine Heigl rom-com – a weirdly anachronistic murder mystery homage to '80s studio underworld trash – for its many obvious shortcomings (lethargic direction, awkward comedy, misguided tone), it might be interesting to assess just why One for the Money misses its mark not only in execution, but conception.
In theory, reinvigorating the romance adventure genre, which triumphed with Romancing the Stone and died with Jewel of the Nile, could be a savvy move, injecting the modern staleness of "chick flicks" with a bit of life and death tension. Here, instead of focusing entirely on the antagonizing sexual chemistry between a potentially innocent cop wanted for murder, Joe (Jason O'Mara), and his bounty hunter, Stephanie (Heigl), who had a one night stand with him, the plot sticks to Stephanie's acclimation to the bounty hunter role, inevitably getting wrapped up in Joe's crime and finding an endless series of dead bodies.
It makes for an oddly dark and violent movie that actually could have worked if it maintained a sinister black comedy tone. However, director Julie Anne Robinson falls victim to broad comedy goofiness on occasion, adding cooking musical montages and senior citizen nudity to a text that doesn't call for it.
Although, in the modern context of Oprah book clubs, The Huffington Post and Dancing with the Stars, it's unlikely that a full-on, violent romance action film would find much of an audience anyways, making the cheeky one-liners and cutesy scenes of flirtation a borderline necessity, at least for the sake of an appealing trailer. Essentially, this forgettable experiment is a product of its time, wanting to try something a little different, but not having the guts or the cultural backing to go all out.
Still, despite not working on any level and featuring Debbie Reynolds at her most obnoxious, there's something vaguely watchable about this milquetoast female empowerment parable. It's just hard to say if that something is anything more than morbid curiosity. (eOne)