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Movie Review

Stephanie Plum is in a pickle.

Laid off from her gig as a lingerie salesman at Macy's, she's in desperate need of cash. Her car's been repossessed. She's getting overdue rent notices from her landlord. She's got a hamster to feed. (Well, it could be a small Guinea pig, but they eat the same stuff.) What, exactly, is a car-free, rodent-owning, former lingerie saleswoman equipped to do?

Bounty hunt, of course. Isn't it obvious?

Stephanie bums the job off her cousin, Vinnie. She gets a gun from her new bag-the-bad-guys mentor, Ranger. She gets a car from her slightly crazy grandmother. She gets an assignment—apprehending a dude named Joe Morelli who's wanted for murder.

And she gets into lots of trouble.

Hey, she always knew that bringing Morelli in would have its share of complications. He's an ex-cop, after all—not the easiest of prey to track down. He's her ex-beau too, if you can count a one-night, virginity-losing tryst on the floor of a bakery a beau-making relationship. Steph took the breakup hard (she hit Morelli with a car shortly thereafter), and nobody's saying she's completely processed her feelings for him yet.

Still, none of that explains the threats. Or the firebombings. Or the deaths of her sources.

Stephanie Plum has gotten in way over her head.

Positive Elements

It's great that Steph, rather than waiting for her unemployment benefits to come and then go, or moving back in with her parents, decides to get a job—one that, however dangerous it might be, is important. And it's also nice that she shows the initiative to move out of her comfort zone and learn a really tricky job on the fly. That takes gumption.

Indeed, we can laud her general courage. Not the weathering-a-hail-of-bullets kind of courage (though she shows a bit of that too). But rather the sort of courage that all of us could use every day—the courage to look foolish as we move toward competency, the courage to ask questions, the courage to take the hard steps we all sometimes need to take. Stephanie may be many things. But a wimp? Hardly.

Spiritual Content

Steph has a run-in with another bounty hunter who steals the keys to her SUV—a vehicle she, in turn, stole from Morelli. She watches from her apartment as the guy gets in the car. "God's gonna get you for this, Morty Beyers!" she hollers.

"Screw God!" Morty shouts back. He gets into the car … and it promptly explodes.

"Well, I told him," Stephanie thinks to herself.

Elsewhere, Steph talks with Morelli's mother, who still harbors ill will toward her for running over her son. Even if the Pope beats her with a stick, she insists, "I'm never forgiving you." Someone else genuflects. Morelli wears a cross around his neck.

Sexual Content

Despite their mutual protests, Steph and Morelli still share an attraction. That why it works when Morelli nearly kisses Steph as a ploy to steal her car keys. He breaks into her apartment and barges in on her as she's taking a shower, handcuffing her to the shower rod. And as he's doing so we see quite a lot of her body, with only the most critical parts covered or obscured. Later, still handcuffed to the shower, she solicits Ranger's help, using her clothes-free state to convince him. He, and we, see her wrapped in a transparent shower curtain. Afterwards, Steph's left to wonder whether she should worry that two guys, in the same day, have seen her naked and have walked away.

When the two work together at one point, Morelli fits her with an eavesdropping wire, asking her to take off her shirt. He practically drools over the sight of her in her bra (which we see too). Jokes are made about them sleeping together in high school, and somehow the cannoli gets mixed up in that sexually charged conversation.

Prostitutes reveal quite a bit of leg and chest. And Steph's interaction with them triggers a quick gag about her wanting a lesbian tryst. A rapist's crimes are mentioned. Steph takes in an elderly nudist/exhibitionist. We see the man's naked buttocks and hear him tell someone how the fresh air is good for "the boys."

There are cruder references than that made to both male and female body parts. Someone makes a crass reference to oral sex, and double entendres evoke other forms of sexual conduct. We hear about a dominatrix. We listen to Steph's grandmother extol the virtues of wearing "a nice thong." The exterior of an XXX movie theater is seen.

Violent Content

People fire guns and get hit by the bullets coming out of those guns. One is killed by five bullets to the chest. Two others are found dead with holes in their foreheads. One good guy is hit in the chest. (He's saved by his body armor). Another is struck in the rump.

Two men get into a huge fight, culminating with one of them getting pepper-sprayed and hit over the head with a metal bar. A barrel contains a dead body that, judging by the reaction of the folks who open it, has been stashed in there for quite some time. A prostitute is thrown out of a car, bloody and bruised from a severe beating. An SUV blows up. Steph clotheslines a fleeing criminal. We hear about how she broke Morelli's leg in three places. Steph says her father contemplates how to kill her grandmother and where to bury the body. Characters discuss bloody bullet holes.

MMA fighters go at it in the cage. Steph is threatened by one of them, who says, "I'll cut you up and sell you for parts," after throwing her against the cage wall. Steph's grandmother shoots an already dead (and cooked) turkey. Someone's apartment is set on fire; we see the aftermath.

Crude or Profane Language

Close to 20 s-words. Well more than 20 uses of such words as "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "b‑‑tard," "d‑‑n" and "p‑‑‑." God's name is misused at least 30 times—close to 10 times with "d‑‑n." Jesus' name is abused another dozen times. We see two obscene gestures and hear multiple crudities assigned to sexual body parts.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The bad guys are involved in a heroin ring, and there's a dusting of the drug in a boat. Steph interviews someone who admits to having been wasted, and later is referred to as a known pothead.

Steph's parents serve and drink wine at dinner. Morelli and Steph drink a couple of beers. A hookah sits in a corner of an apartment.

Other Negative Elements

Steph steals Morelli's car and helps a fugitive. Several characters lie. People show deep distrust of law enforcement.


One for the Money is based on the first of Janet Evanovich's light Stephanie Plum mystery/adventure novels.

That said, and without casting any judgment on those books, which I've not read and therefore will not review here, literature is not a word that easily comes to mind after sitting through this foul and frothy film. Now, sometimes even bad movies can offer up a smattering of good messages. But, alas, that's not the case here. This is a throwaway film in every sense of the word, loaded with swears, gratuitous sexuality and antisocial behavior.

A plum of a movie? More like a prune. But that's not right either, 'cause those are good for the digestion.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum; Jason O'Mara as Joe Morelli; Daniel Sunjata as Ranger; John Leguizamo as Jimmy Alpha; Sherri Shepherd as Lula; Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur


Julie Anne Robinson ( )





Record Label



In Theaters

January 27, 2012

On Video

May 15, 2012

Year Published



Paul Asay

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