Is Mad Money for when you go mad or get mad??

February 10, 2008 at 9:00 am | Posted in movies | 1 Comment

Employment Agent: Are you proficient in any type of software?
Bridget Cardigan: I know Google… [laughs].

Mad Money
AMC Loews Stony Brook – February 8, 2008

Warning: contains spoilers. But really… were you going to see it anyway?

How do movie careers end? Take for example John Travolta. World-renowned in the seventies for his TV role on Welcome back, Kotter and the films Grease and Saturday Night Fever… then virtually disappeared in the eighties only to resurge in 1994 with Pulp Fiction followed by a slew of others great films. He has become part of movie icongraphy and continues to release blockbusters left and right, most recently reinventing himself in Hairspray. There are many examples of great actors waining and waxing in their careers. But how do you know when an actor is washed up? finished? kaput in this business of show?

Admittedly, the draw in this film is the combination of the three main female characters. These three women (Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes) are an unlikely grouping, to say the least. In all three cases, this project comes at an interesting time in their respective careers. Usually this mediocre quality of film marks the beginning of the end for an actor or actress, but I just don’t want to believe that’s true of these women. Written and directed by Callie Khouri, best known for Thelma & Louise and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Doesn’t that say it all right there?

Like Travolta, Diane Keaton enjoyed some success in the seventies (most notably Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and the Godfather series) and again resurfaced in the late eighties to a modicum of success up until and including now. However, nary a blockbuster hit. Her more recent films, though for the most part enjoyable, have not held enough box office weight to be considered a true comeback. I do believe her to be one of the greatest actresses of our time. With all due respect, its a wonder that Keaton would accept this kind of project in today’s world?

Queen Latifah… What can I say? I just love her as an actress and as a human being. Her range and dexterity over the past ten years or so has inspired me in ways only a woman can understand. How she carries herself in everything she does, with grace and integrity and most of all, with a sense of humor about herself that translates beautifully on screen. This role, though modest in size, was brightened with her presence and therefore I cannot in good conscience say anything negative here.

And last but not least, the fair Miss Katie Holmes-Cruise. Those of you who know me know that I have been following her career since the beginning. Dawson’s Creek shined with Katie’s breakthrough performance as Joey Potter. Even in the first season, I could see that this girl was going places. With low to moderate success in film, the roles she was offered were not as cherry-picked in her earlier days, but still you could see the potential for longevity with the right opportunities. And lets face it, she was damn cute! Personal comments aside regarding recent *cough* kool-aid drinking, scientology cult alien abduction *cough* lifestyle choices, Katie has chosen a different way to go. This film was her last film made before she met and married and conceived with the all-consuming Tom Cruise. Who knows when she’ll make another movie…???

As the space case Jackie, Katie portrays a seemingly and not so seemingly dim-witted young girl who walks the halls of her job dancing and kicking and grooving to her Walkman… now I don’t know about you, but I don’t think a lot of people could get away with that kind of unprofessional mannerisms like dancing and listening to music while at work. It is crucial to the heist plan, as she is able to fool the security cameras by wiggling the money into a garbage can.


To our benefit, the songs she listened to were quite good. I’m hoping to find out what they are. (Could not determine based on music credits.)

When faced with a new release, the trailer is used as a tool to entice a viewer, giving a taste of plot, a glimmer of celebrity, or a promise of something exciting and larger than life. Then there are others that ruin the prospect of an otherwise mediocre film by giving away too much information or key jokes that might affect what little comedy there was to begin with. I have mentioned trailers before in my Cloverfield review as an welcomed addition to the movie experience, but in this case Mad Money’s trailer is unfortunately an example of the latter.

I ALMOST find no need to recap the storyline, as the trailer does it more brilliantly than I could. In short, upper middle class woman (Keaton) must get job as janitor after husband (Ted Danson) is downsized. As said janitor, she devises a plan to rob the bank where money is accounted for and then destroyed, only to be reprinted by the US mint. Along with the space-case dancing cart girl (Holmes) and the black, single mother line worker (Latifah), they somehow pull this plan off for upwards of 3 years, “recycling” approx. 100K per heist. One security guard finally wises up, but they cut him in cause conveniently he has a crush on Latifah’s character. (They are subsequently engaged in the next scene. How predictable.) Eventually they are caught, as the thieves always are in these movies. However, they are arrested with no evidence tying the money to the bank. So the IRS makes a deal to release them if they pay taxes on the stolen money *rolls eyes* which again conveniently works out to the rest of what they stole. In the end, the women meet for a mini reunion in the crab shack where they used to plan their heists. Keaton escorts them to the back of the joint, where she reveals several barrels full of money that was either never included in the original amount or somehow Keaton kept on stealing or….. I don’t even care. The three women throw money up into the air gleefully. Fade to black.

mad money

Sigh. Now that I have gone on much longer than the movie lasted, I will leave you with this thought… Is it enough to say that something will be good if good actresses are in it? Is it worth the gamble of a movie ticket price for an ultimately lukewarm experience? By comparison to how bad it could have been, I guess it wasn’t that bad. But that’s not saying much. Hard to be disappointed when you have low expectations to begin with.

RATING: **/5 (Blink and you’ll miss Stephen Root’s cameo)
Recommendation: If you are curious, wait until its on TV. Otherwise, you didn’t miss much.

mad money


1 Comment »

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  1. Wow a very well written and thought out review. If only you put this much effort into the reviews of movies you actually liked 😉

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