I should have known this wasn't going to be as good as I'd hoped. I've read ALL 18 of the books in this series and loved them all. Total beach trashy fiction, but well worth every read. But, when the movie's release date was moved from August 2011 to January 2012, I should have known nothing great was coming. Sadly, it was true.
One for the Money and the rest of the series by author Janet Evanovich follows a down on her luck Trenton native named Stephanie Plum. She loses her job selling lingerie at Macy's and her cousin hires her to be a bounty hunter (basically assuming she'll cause no trouble and their mutual grandmother will leave him alone). However, Stephanie has more spunk, curiosity and a knowledge of the actual workings of the gossip network in the neighborhoods she grew up in. That, and a total ineptitude and tons of luck means she's pretty funny to follow on these quests to make a living by bringing in bad guys who skipped on bail.
Katherine Heigl plays Stephanie - with a good attempt at a NJ accent, and the brown curly hair from the book. I've always thought of Stephanie as attractive, so once I actually saw Heigl in character I was sold (despite misgivings going in). However, none of the other characters in the movie come as close to living up to their literary counterparts. Plum's on-again/off-again future boyfriend Morelli is played by Jason O'Mara, and while good looking isn't the rough Italian Trenton cop from the book. He's good, but doesn't capture the character particularly well. The other love interest is relatively minor in the first book, Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), isn't given enough time to smolder like Ranger does in the book. While good looking, sexy, and obviously in charge, he doesn't quite get to sex-on-a-stick like literary Ranger whose mode of flirting is to just look at Stephanie and say "babe" and she melts. An actor must have a certain charisma to pull that off.
The story is pretty simple - Stephanie needs money and Morelli is on the run after being accused of murder. She tracks him down while attempting to avoid having sex with him too. She enlists Ranger's help to learn how to shoot a gun, etc. Another person who helps her (and has a much larger role in later books) is Lula (Sherri Shepherd) - a self-professed 'ho in the worst part of town. She helps Stephanie and in later books they become friends. Lula is large, crazy, dresses like a 'ho, and insists on donuts and fried chicken whenever life doesn't go her way.
Overall, the movie failed to capture how lucky Stephanie is to survive all the mishaps - her cars frequently get blown up, people break into her apartment constantly, etc. She's basically barely able to get by picking up the easy cases, but often wins big as something is dumped in her lap. She's funny, sassy, and inspires devotion in too many people. The movie was fine - it captured some of the moments from the book well. But overall, it DEFINITELY doesn't make you want to see another 17 versions. Best Heigl in a while, but that's really not saying much.