Movie Review for Mad Money (2008)

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Review #601 of 365
Movie Review of Mad Money (2008) [PG-13] 104 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $9.50
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When Seen: 18 January 2008
Time: 3:15 pm
DVD Release Date: 13 May 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Callie Khouri (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood )
Screenplay by: Glenn Gers (Fracture) with Early Screenplay by John Mister and "Hot Money" by Neil McKay and Terry Winsor

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Diane Keaton (Because I Said So) • Ted Danson ("Damages") • Katie Holmes (Thank You For Smoking) • Adam Rothenberg (Coyote Beach) • Queen Latifah (Hairspray) • Meagen Fay (Evan AlmightyEvan Almighty) • Christopher McDonald (Awake) • Roger R. Cross (World Trade CenterWorld Trade Center) • Stephen Root (No Country for Old Men) • J.C. MacKenzie (The Return)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to see photos from the Premiere of Mad Money
Click to read the spoiler points for Mad Money
Did you ever hear the expression, "Don't get mad, get even"? It applies dually to Callie Khouri's Mad Money starring Diane Keaton, Katie Holmes, and Queen Latifah. First, the story is about one woman's 'madness'—as in loopy—emerging out of her 'being mad'—as in angry—at a society that permits her and her husband to amass a lavish lifestyle that hinges on his large income which evaporates over night when he's downsized. The second application of the expression may arise in people being prompted, in advance, just to skip this film thereby saving anger, frustration, irritation of having spend hard-earned money to see it. The getting even part comes in the form of poor box-office turning into, hopefully, a push for better material for audiences that deserve better.

On the surface (ie. the trailer), the concept seems like it could be a good and possibly even fun one. As to getting even, Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) gets a job, on the advice from her housekeeper, at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City which has as one of its many functions the duty of shredding all the damaged paper money from its district banks whereby she figures out a clever way to steal the money before it gets shredded. For her 'brilliant' plan to succeed, she needs to other insiders to help out: a cart girl, Jackie Truman (Katie Holmes), and a shredding girl, Nina Brewster (Queen Latifah). Nina is first on board with the plan. Finding Jackie takes more time, and even when they find her, they worry she's unstable due to a drug abuse problem. She doesn't really have a problem, they mistake an insulin syringe in her purse for something else. After some time of planning and discussing, they begin the task of stealing money. Bridget reasons with her husband Don (Ted Danson), they're not hurting anyone because the money is supposed to be destroyed. He's concerned about the balance of trade not to mention what has happened to his formerly upstanding wife. So, yes, doesn't it sound fun to think you could steal a nearly unlimited supply of cash and not hurt anyone in the process? There's also something 'fun' and 'daring' about stealing large sums of money from a bank, isn't there? Isn't everyone a closet bank-robbing wannabe? The film might make you think so. Well, even if it is a 'fun' concept, it's one that grows old and stale right before you're very eyes in this 104-minute film based on a 3-minute concept. Worse, the editing, story, direction, whomsoever is to blame for the chronology of the film has it giving away its own ending before the film's barely started—not the total real ending, just most of what is going to happen.

fun for about ten minutes…fluffy…could have been a Sunday evening movie back in the early 1980s to great acclaim.
While artistically valid, in this case it practically ruins the film or, at least, reduces the 'fun' and anticipation never mind the thrill and danger associated with wondering how or if they'll ever be caught. Which, therefore leaves only one thing to enjoy…watching how they do it. Which, while diabolically simple and clever, cannot sustain another 40 minutes of the film. So that has to be filled with mindless drivel discussions about the ethics of stealing money—as if there were any ethics to stealing, the many ways they might go about spending the money if they ever could spend the money without raising too much suspicion or alerting the IRS to their sudden and inexplicable fortunes, and a sentimental romance between Nina and one of the Bank's security men who becomes necessary one day when a weakness in their system suddenly arises. The film isn't boring because of all this, it's simply fluffy. It's fun for about ten minutes until it's obvious that there's just not a lot of depth here.

Two saving graces were:

(a) The leading actresses were uniquely excellent in each her own way: Diane Keaton has to be the most gorgeous woman over 45 (is she over 45?) since Sophia Loren. Her character is a doll and she plays her perfectly. It's practically impossible not to accept her logic. Her honest Abe husband tries but quickly caves. Queen Latifah simply and irresistibly illuminates the screen with her smile and presence. A knockout in her own right, she's proven herself one of the great comedic actresses of her generation. As for Katie Holmes, she's quite a bit better in a less serious role. She's the 'kid' of the group, but she's also the free spirit. Jackie has a great heart. She's more in touch with the earth than the other two. Her great dream is to go do Czechoslovakia when they can finally spend the money. She's devastated when Don informs her there's been no Czechoslovakia since 1992. Anyway, Katie Holmes along with her two co-stars share one thing in common in this film, they all deserved a stronger script and storyline to match their characters and acting talents. It becomes pretty obvious early on, in other words, that the characters were probably not much more deep than the story, but these three brought them to life and made them worth rooting for.

(b) While men mostly take a back seat in this film proving that men can play the backdrop characters with nothing to do and little to say just as well as women (aren't these nice thing to know: that strong women characters don't ruin a film and that weak male characters don't destroy the cinematic milieu?), two male performances stood out as particularly good: that of Stephen Root's "Everywhere, every minute" Mr. Glover whose belief in his perfect and flawless, theft-proof, cash shredding system is the "get out of jail free" card in Bridget's back pocket; and J.C. MacKenzie's curious bank examiner Richard Mandelbrot whose relentless observations are what eventually knock the wind out of the Bridget's sails. These two breathed in some additional comedic levity at times when it was sorely needed.

Mad Money isn't an awful film. It's just not great. It's the kind of film that really could have been a Sunday evening movie back in the early 1980s to great acclaim. By today's standards, however, the film lacked depth and intrigue. So, don't get mad, just wait for the DVD or download sure to be just a few months away.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring Mad Money (2008)
Cast Members
Diane KeatonTed DansonKatie Holmes
Adam RothenbergQueen LatifahMeagen Fay
Christopher McDonaldRoger R. CrossStephen Root
J.C. MacKenzie
Callie Khouri
Glenn Gers

Review-lite Mad Money (2008) [max of 150 words]
With a shallow script based on a concept that grows stale quickly, director Callie Khouri's Mad Money starring Dian Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes, falters partially because its construction reveals the ending before the beginning all but diminishing the "do they" or "don't they" get caught mystique and partially because the overall depth fo the story is too shallow for these great characters and luminous actresses. Some good humor and good performances make the film tolerable, but not one that cannot wait for DVD or download.

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