Mad Money

Cast:
Diane Keaton as Bridgette Cardigan
Ted Danson as Tom Cardigan
Katie Holmes as Jackie Truman
Adam Rothenberg as Bob Truman
Queen Latifah as Nina Brewster
Roger Cross as Barry
Chris McDonald as Bryce Arbogast
Meagen Fey as Mindy Arbogast
Steven Root as Glover
Marc Macaulay as Agent Wayne

Summary:
“Mad Money” is a pretty ho-hum buddy/caper flick which benefits from non-linear story-telling and good turns by its supporting cast.

Story:
Bridgette Cardigan (Keaton) is in jeopardy of losing her comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle when the bills begin to pile up after her husband Tom (Danson) loses his job. Nearing the end of her rope, Bridgette takes a job as a janitor at Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank. Not long after she sees an opportunity to regain her former life by stealing worn-out money pulled from circulation and due to be destroyed. After recruiting a single mom (Latifah) and a dizzy trailer dweller (Holmes), the trio set off to pull off a series of heists that will give each of them enough money to live happily ever after.

“Mad Money” is rated PG-13 for sexual material and language, and brief drug references.

What Worked:
An otherwise straight-forward buddy comedy, “Mad Money” benefits from two chief features. First is the non-linear storytelling in the script by “Fracture” writer Glenn Gers. The film basically opens with the parties to the heist in custody, so right way you know things have gone bad. The story is then told as history with intermitted cuts back to an interrogation room at that police station as they interview the group trying to get a confession and find out just how they were able to pull off the robbery. I like the use of the non-linear story here, as it makes what would likely have been a fairly mediocre comedy into something a bit more interesting.

The second benefit to “Mad Money” was the chuckle-worthy performances of its supporting staff – mainly Ted Danson as Tom, Steven Root as the security boss at the bank Mr. Glover and the two security guards that monitor the cleaning staff’s exit protocol from the bank every day.

Danson has some great lines as the bewildered husband of criminal mastermind Keaton. Early on, he simply cannot believe what is happening. Later, he actually comes around to the plan and becomes an active part of the cover-up. Root is great – as always – as the semi-maniacal Glover, who becomes a key figure in the fate of the bandits. The guards are good comic relief, mainly trying to hit on every woman that passes through their security line while rummaging through their purses.

What Didn’t Work:
The weakest part of “Mad Money” is probably the three main players – Keaton, Latifah and Holmes. Keaton is not bad as the mastermind Cardigan, but she’s been better in other recent roles and seems a bit miscast here. In addition, such criminal prowess from a middle-aged homemaker is fairly inexplicable and likely enough to raise an eyebrow or two. Latifah is cast spot on, but I can’t help but feel like I’ve seen this role from her before. Didn’t she rob banks with Jada Pinkett Smith in the late 1990s?

As for Holmes, she just seems supremely out of place here as the music-loving free spirit Jackie. The role calls for here to be dancing around quite a bit as she pushes carts full of doomed cash around the innards of the bank… and it just looks awkward and forced. The character also calls for a bit of wide-eyed confusion now and again, and I seriously felt on occasion I was looking at genuine bewilderment from Holmes, not Jackie.

Director Callie Khouri is no stranger to female-action-buddy flicks having helmed 1991′s “Thelma & Louise,” but the “Mad Money” trio doesn’t hold up quite as well as the duo of Sarandon and Davis.

“Mad Money” is a U.S. remake of a 2001 British television movie called “Hot Money” where a band of female janitors come together to steal cash slated for destruction from the Bank of England. Having not seen the original, I’m not sure how this stacks up. If you’re a fan of Keaton and like the idea of a somewhat smart, women-against-the-system buddy movie, you might want to give “Mad Money” a shot. Otherwise… it’s rental bait.

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