Posted: 01/20/2008


Mad Money


by Laura Tucker

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Sometimes a film can have so much star power, you just think there’s more it could have done. This is the case with Mad Money. With stars Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, and Ted Danson, it should be a huge star vehicle, and should have Keaton’s great comedic timing and Queen Latifah’s ‘tude that puts you in your place. Yet, it just seems like it just quite isn’t all there.

To make matters worse, Mad Money falls to stereotypes. Diane Kenton stars as Bridget, an upper class woman who hasn’t held a job of her own in several years, and whose degree is in Comparative Literature. Her husband, Don, is played by Ted Danson, and the two even high the upper crust last name of Cardigan.

Queen Latifah plays the single mom living in a bad neighborhood, wanting a better life for her two sons, Nina Brewster. She works at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, burning the old money that has been taken out of service. Holmes plays a young woman that is so ditzy everyone assumes she’s on drugs, Jackie Truman. Yet, she is entrusted to move the bins holding large amounts of money around the building.

Don loses his job through downsizing, and reluctantly admits to Bridget that even before he lost the job, they were already $286,000 in debt. While he sits around and feels sorry for himself, she’s left to look for a job, and can’t find anything other than working as a janitor in the Federal Reserve . No matter how many times I looked at Keaton in that janitorial jumper, I just couldn’t wrap my head around her being a janitor. Her hairstyle still looked upper crust, as did the rest of her. She should have had her hair pulled back in a ponytail with grown-out highlights or something. It just seems too unbelievable.

Somehow, the degree in Comparative Literature leads Bridget to being a criminal mastermind, and after her first day on the job, and comparing it to the “Frontline we saw on third-world slave labor,” she just can’t handle the fact that she’ll have to work for everything she wants. She devises a plan to steal the old money that is being destroyed at The Federal Reserve, knowing it’s not counted after this point. She pulls in Nina and Jackie, with the feeling that “Crime is contagious.”

Everything comes down to a Master brand lock. Between the three of them, they manage to switch the locks on bins of money waiting to be destroyed, dump some into the trash, switch the locks back before anyone knows, then meet in the bathroom to distribute the cash and hide it in their clothes. The three unlikely cohorts pull off the finely executed plan, and resolve to do it again, just enough times to get the things they want out of life.

There are a few parts of the movie that come off as believable, such as the three unlikely criminals counting their money for the first time, and there are also one or two laugh-out-loud moments, yet overall, I thought there should be more. In a movie with this much star power, the whole thing should come off as believable, and with the comedic timing of the stars involved, the whole audience should have been laughing throughout.

Not that I expected all that much out of Mad Money, but I at least expected to admire the acting skills of this finely assembled cast, and expected to leave with a smile on my face, after laughing all the way through. Instead, at the end of the film, it looked like many felt the same as I did. You can tell the mark of a good film at the end, if people remain glued to their seats throughout the credits, not wanting it to be over. Instead, by the time I stood up and put on my coat and collected my things, the theatre was nearly empty.

Laura Tucker is a freelance writer providing reviews of movies and television, among other things, at Viewpoints and Reality Shack.

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