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Bridget and Don Cardigan are trying to get back on their upper-class feet again after Don's job was "downsized" out of existence. But it's been a year now, and Don finally reveals that they're in debt to the tune of almost $300,000. So Bridget determines it's time for her to do a little job hunting.
She heads off to the unemployment office, but her experience as a well-to-do mom and the fact that she possesses a decades-old English degree doesn't take her very far. Instead, a rough-edged employment officer tells her, "People your age in the workforce are considered a real pain in the a--!"
The former socialite eventually lands a job as a janitor at a Federal Reserve Bank. Trouble starts, however, the moment she gets an eyeful of stacks and stacks of money piled everywhere. Bridget's "over qualified" mind goes to work and she immediately devises a plot to steal old, soon-to-be-shredded cash right out from under the camera lens of the highly secure bank system.
After recruiting Nina and Jackie, two other covetous female cogs in the big money-destroying machine, Bridget whips her team into shape and they pull off their first heist. The only problem now is where to stash all the moola. That mattress thing is so passé.
Nina is a single mom who is very loving and protective of her two young sons. The only reason she gives in and joins the robbery plot is because she desperately wants to keep her son away from inner-city pressures by sending him to a private school. (Not that the end ever justifies the means, something she never communicates to her son by admitting her choices were both illegal and foolish.)
Likewise, Nina's boyfriend, Barry, sincerely cares for her and tries to protect her when she gets into trouble.
[Spoiler Warning] When the authorities discover what's been going on, Jackie makes a deal with the police on the condition that Nina be set free and be able to stay with her boys. Words don't change actions much here, but characters do repeatedly state the fact that it is their greedy desire for more things that drives them to keep stealing in the face of a near certain discovery.
A song playing on the radio says, "Can't nobody do me like Jesus."
When the women are trying to sneak money out of the bank, we watch them stuff the cash into their bras and panties. Barry puts his hands on Nina's clothed breasts and feels the money under her bra. One quick scene shows a close-up of a man's hand slipping a dollar bill into a woman's g-string panties. (We see her bare hips and midriff.)
Nina wears a number of low-cut tops. Several of the bank guards ogle her chest, and one of the guards says, "You got me so cuckoo for your cocoa puffs." Nina and Barry start out kissing passionately and are later discovered making out in a coat closet with their clothing disheveled and partially removed.
Sexual innuendoes and discussions are scattered throughout the script. For instance, when Don finds that the girls have somehow gotten a lot of unexpected cash, Bridget asks him if he wants a lap dance. In another scene, the girls encourage Nina to have sex with a man, and they talk over some physical aspects of the interaction.
Attempting to elude the authorities, Jackie and her husband, Bob, rig a gas explosion that obliterates their motor home. Bridget accidentally drops some cleaning products on the floor, and a number of startled guards draw their guns and point them at her. Later, FBI agents and policemen break into the girls' residences with weapons drawn.
Crude or Profane Language
The s-word and "h---" are both tossed around about 10 times each. Other crudities include "a--," "b--ch" and "d--n." God's name is misused well over a dozen times, including once or twice in combination with "d--n."
Drug and Alcohol Content
People drink beer and mixed drinks at two different parties. The girls all drink beer and shots of alcohol at the bar where they regularly meet. Bob and Don drink beer in front of Bob's motor home. Jackie drops her purse and a hypodermic needle falls out. (We later learn she's a diabetic.) Nina jokes about paying her son's school bill in crack cocaine.
Other Negative Elements
As the girls discuss a secret signal, one of them suggests they flip the middle finger. Bridget uses Nina's love for her son as a way to manipulate her to join their team. Bridget walks into a men's bathroom and talks to a man standing at the urinal. Bob bares his backside to the authorities.
OK, we've all been there. You're driving along on a wintry day, hit a patch of ice and struggle valiantly to control several thousand pounds of steel as it glides its merry way along a glacial toboggan run. Ugh. Now that you're visualizing such a scene, imagine that while you're staring out the window at the lamppost your front fender is about to crunch into, someone is jawing at you from the passenger seat. Feel free to picture any talkative soul you want.
Have you got that hapless torment in your mind's eye? Can you capture that moment when you wished you'd never driven this way or kept this kind of company? Well, stretch that out over an hour and a half, and you've got a pretty good idea of what sitting through Mad Money is like. The filmmakers aimed at creating an amateur heist flick scattered with zany mayhem and lots of laughs. But they shot that arrow into the air, and it fell to earth I know not where—certainly nowhere near this movie.
Even putting aside the dishonest choices, crude lingo and male ogling that coarsen this tale, this is simply a stinker of a flick. It's made up of cardboard characterizations and vapid life philosophies. Bridget tells us, for instance, "They say money can't buy happiness, but it sure as h--- buys everything else." And she never backs away from that creed. Despite a few momentary reflections on how greed can result in poor choices, in the end these women learn nothing, avoid punishment and walk away with their ill-gotten gains.
Add in lukewarm punch lines and a plot that is so transparent it must have been written on Saran Wrap, and Mad Money ends up delivering, really, only one good thing: a solid reason to spend your mad money on something else—like a new set of studded snow tires.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Diane Keaton as Bridget Cardigan; Queen Latifah as Nina Brewster: Katie Holmes as Jackie Truman; Ted Danson as Don Cardigan; Roger R. Cross as Barry; Adam Rothenberg as Bob Truman
Callie Khouri ( Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood)