The film is based on the 18-strong series of books by Janet Evanovich about bounty hunting wannabe Stephanie Plum. She's a quirky gal who loses her job as lingerie salesperson and stumbles into the bail bonds business with her first job being to bring in one of her exes, a former detective wanted for murder. Evanovich never hides from her status as a pulp writer, and so the film doesn't try to re-invent the wheel. It DOES try to emulate Elmore Leonard's work, which of course fails - most Leonard adaptations do, except for a trio of 90s flicks produced under the guise of Lawrence Bender & Danny DeVito. Again, had this been tagged for the small screen, especially with 18 novels worth of material to pick from, the quality would've seemed much more flattering. The fact that director Julie Ann Robinson's resume is almost exclusively lodged in TV work doesn't help in that regard.
|"Yup, all the writers on Grey's Anatomy have one of these now."|
So the story itself isn't the problem -honestly, does Titanic have that much of a story?- but the fact that, well, it's a bit dull and colorless in its execution. It lacks the grand spectacle quality that movies should have, and the humor side never generates more than a few polite smirks. Which is probably not helped by the fact that the three lead characters are played by TV stalwarts: Heigl, Terra Nova's Jason O'Meara and Rescue Me's Daniel Sunjata. Don't get me wrong, all three answer perfectly to the casting call of the books, but they all clearly have that smaller-scale ingredient that makes them look like fishes out of water here. That and the fact that it allocates barely enough screen time and material to solid vets like John Leguizamo and Debbie Reynolds to have them be credited at all.
Overall not nearly as bad a film as critics and reviewers made it out to be, and certainly a step up from the usual dead-of-winter atrocities usually dumped by studios in these cold months. Just not worth the increasingly exorbitant cost of a night out at the multiplex. And certainly not worth making sequels out of. I do hope though that someone will have the smarts to spice this up and make it a weekly treat on a cabler like FX or Showcase. It worked for Sookie Stackhouse, Dexter Morgan and Raylan Givens, so should it for Stephanie Plum. Played by someone less disliked than Katherine Heigl, however.
Final Word: 6/10