LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Heist movies don't get
more low-tech than "Mad Money."
In this improbable and generally unfunny comedy, three
female employees rob the Federal Reserve Bank over and over
again as if it were a giant ATM: They just substitute their
lock for the bank's lock on cages of paper money heading for
the shredder, stuff those ragged bills in bras and panties and
walk right out. Really? OK, that probably wouldn't work, but
who cares if the women are engaging and the payoff fun?
Unfortunately, this is one heist picture where you root for the
robbers to get caught. They are too dim-witted, unsympathetic
and greedy to get away with anything.
The startling combination of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah
and Katie Holmes might be the answer to a trivia question a few
years hence when no one will remember that these three could
have starred in a movie together. The combination of top-drawer
talent will attract women, primarily older than 25, to
"Money's" opening weekend, but box office looks weak afterward.
It certainly is an inauspicious first release for Overture
Films, the movie production and distribution subsidiary of
Liberty Media television giant Starz.
Keaton plays an upper-middle-class woman in Kansas City
(the film actually was shot in Louisiana) whose country-club
way of life is threatened when her husband (Ted Danson) gets
downsized. Lacking job skills, she winds up as a cleaning lady
at the Federal Reserve. Her very first thought is to rob the
Somehow she talks two co-workers whom she would otherwise
ignore -- Latifah, a single mom who stuffs the shredding
machine, and Holmes, a fellow cleaner and airhead who dances to
the beat of her iPod all day -- into helping her waltz the
discarded bills out of the building. One heist leads to
another, greed kicks in and soon they have to draft into their
gang a security guard (Roger Cross) who gets wise to their
capers but has the hots for Latifah.
There's never much jeopardy or suspense involved in these
repeated robberies, nor does writer Glenn Gers ("Fracture") get
much mileage out of the comic predicament of three families
with bundles of money they can't put into a bank or any other
place that will establish a record of unearned largess. The
actors mostly flounder under Callie Khouri's direction. Their
characters fail to engage, and in Keaton's case line readings
and other business come off as downright abrasive.
You do wonder why Khouri, an Oscar-winner for writing
"Thelma and Louise," didn't take a crack at elevating the
script, which is based on a British telefilm "Hot Money."
Stranger still is that no one thought to look at Latifah's 1996
film, "Set It Off," an action movie about female bank robbers,
where the filmmakers keenly observe the lives of their thieves
to explain the desperation behind their brazen behavior.
Bridget: Diane Keaton
Nina: Queen Latifah
Jackie: Katie Holmes
Don: Ted Danson
Glover: Stephen Root
Bryce: Christopher McDonald
Bob: Adam Rothenberg
Barry: Roger Cross
Director: Callie Khouri; Screenwriter: Glenn Gers; Based on
the screenplay "Hot Money" by: Neil McKay, Terry Winsor;
Producers: Jay Cohen, Frank DeMartini, James Acheson; Executive
producers: Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Trevor
Short, Michael Flannigan, Robert Green, Wendy Kram; Director of
photography: John Bailey; Production designer: Brent Thomas;
Music: Marty Davich, James Newton Howard; Costume designer:
Susie DeSanto; Editor: Wendy Greene Bricmont.