Unfortunately, after reviewing both Jessica Simpson and Katherine Heigl movies in one week, I feel like I’ve just walked into the grocery store after leaving an all-you-can-eat stomach-punch buffet. I just wish that I had any hate left in the tank to spit toward Mad Money, but mostly, it just made me sad. Sad that the folks behind it will no doubt be (deservedly) crushed by the Cloverfield monster and Skankzilla (and having seen both, I don’t know which is more terrifying — and don’t fret, Dan will have your Cloverfield review up soon). Also sad that Diane Keaton — beautiful, beaming, amazing Annie Hall — has been left saddled with Hollywood’s dregs. Sad that Callie Khouri, who gets a lifetime’s free pass for her Thelma and Louise script, and I don’t care how bad Ya Ya Sisterhood was — can’t find a better project to direct than this one. Sad that Queen Latifah has pissed away a once-promising career. And, so very sad that this is what’s become of Joey Potter. After a week on the talk-show circuit, and seeing the dichotomy between the characters in the movie, the old Katie Holmes, and the preprogrammed, soft-spoken animatronic slenderbot that’s been haunting me on the small screen all week, it’s hard for me to argue that the woman can’t act. She deserves an Oscar for at least one of those roles; I just don’t know which one.
Anyway, Mad Money is designed, at least, to be a (light, so very light) female-empowerment flick about three women who throw caution to the wind and decide to rob the federal reserve, but what it really is is a 100-minute time suck that lightens your wallet and leaves you lethargic. In the film, Bridget (Diane Keaton) needs money to support her upper-middle class lifestyle after her husband (Ted Danson) got laid off from his upper-middle class job; Nina, a modest single-mother, needs the money to put her children in a private school; and Jackie — a nondescript, flighty woman who lives in a trailer and listens to her iPod constantly — needs the money, well, just because she wants it, and because her boyfriend is tired of working in a meatpacking factory. So, after Bridget is forced to take a position as a janitor at the Federal Reserve (the funniest moment in the entire film is seeing beautiful, radiant, beaming Annie Hall in a custodian jumpsuit, but only because of how laughable it is), she conspires with Nina and Jackie to pilfer some of that money the Reserve shreds after new currency is put into circulation. And, as it turns out, there’s not a lot to the heist — no cool diagrams and complex plans; just changing a lock and throwing some money in the trash for the janitor to take out.
It won’t hurt anybody, right? The money doesn’t actually belong to anybody! They’re helping to stimulate the economy by increasing spending! Such is moral quandary they are faced with, but it was hard to pay much attention to it while the Statute of Liberty’s head was being tossed around NYC in the next theater. Also, because Money was boring. In fact, the worst I can really say about Mad Money was that it had no zip — it was flat and immensely dull and it made me anxious to get up and go, and the second it ended, the entire experience left me, like a bad spirit that’d realized it’d just inhabited the wrong body. But that spirit nevertheless left me with that sad feeling.
Why? Because at the height of your box-office powers (as Heigl is right now), you can take damn near any role out there — see Amy Adams, who mixes it up and never does anything she’d feel embarrassed about afterwards — but for Diane Keaton and, probably the director, who ain’t exactly the flavor of the month anymore, it’s either do movies like this one or Because I Said So or retire, because decent roles for sixty-something year olds (even beautiful, amazing, radiant ones) just don’t exist anymore. And it’s sad, too, that Hollywood studios don’t manufacture meaty roles for older (or talented, but not stunningly gorgeous younger women), which means that Jessica Alba, Katherine Heigl, Jessica Biel, and Scarlett Johansson control what we have to see in the theaters because the parts they choose are the parts that are made. Not, of course, that this phenomenon is limited to women — Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller can all make any fucking movie they want, but they all insist on making the same one, over and over and fucking over. But, at least they have the choice, while Diane Keaton and, really, Queen Latifah, probably just choose the less awful between two scripts offered.
The point is, Mad Money was bland, inoffensive, and as forgettable as Luke Wilson has become. Diane Keaton did her best, but her best wasn’t nearly enough to save it. Queen Latifah brought the same tired sassmouth she brings to every role, only it’s obvious her heart isn’t in it anymore … and Katie Holmes — oh, seeing her even in a bad, sort of goofy role hurt my heart a little, cause all I could think was: Only when she’s actressin’ can she be herself anymore. And I don’t have to tell you much more than that, because you’re not going to see it anyway, at least not before TBS starts airing it on Saturday afternoons in 2011. And when that time comes, if you have anything better to do, like change the channel, I’d recommend it.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Ithaca, New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.
Mad Money / Dustin Rowles
Film | January 18, 2008 | Comments ()