January 17, 2008

Mad Money

Everyone's fantasy while watching "Mad Money"

Grade: D +
Starring: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson, and Adam Rothenberg
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

The Writers Guild strike is already hitting Hollywood so hard that filmmakers are apparently hiring eight-year-olds to write their scripts. Or, at least that is the only way to explain the mind-numbing stupidity of Mad Money, yet another woman-hating invective masquerading as pro-feminist pap. Its would-be progressive mantra seems to be that women are money-grubbers that can be just as devious as their male counter-partners in crime. You’ve come a long way, baby.

More than anything, will someone please stop Diane Keaton before she infests another romantic-comedy, family dramedy, or just comedy in general? Her frantic gyrations, shrieking lilt, and frequent, oh-so Upper East Side costume changes are the stuff of self-parody, the mark of a once-talented actress resorting to bottom-feeding scripts and directors that will let her wear her darn gloves as much as possible.

Stripped of her upper class lifestyle after her husband (Ted Danson) loses his job, Keaton’s Bridget Cardigan (even the character’s surname connotes pretension) eschews any use of her comparative literature degree or social network. Instead, she decides to follow a tip from her Hispanic cleaning lady and slum with a janitorial job at the Kansas City Federal Reserve just long enough to concoct a way to smuggle out old money earmarked for shredding.

There is a semi-stimulating modicum lurking about the artificiality of legal tender and the delusion that stealing another’s trash is not stealing at all. But, subtext is not the aim here when your only premise is that money is reeeally important and there are audience demographics to target. So, we get middle-aged Bridget partnering up with poor, black single mom Nina (Queen Latifah) and white, iPod-addicted bubble-head Jackie (Katie Holmes) to carry out their caper.

The proverbial series of hijinks and close calls follow, burdened further by writer-director Callie Khouri’s (Thelma and Louise) unimaginative blocking of an utterly simplistic-cum-unrealistic heist that the gals incredulously carry on for months, plus a veritable cascade of woeful, unfunny dialogue: Bridget – “A drug test…what kind of drugs would I have to take?” Allow me to suggest the kind that settles your stomach while sitting through this drivel.

Mostly, you will wonder why the three chatty amigas do not get caught earlier, for the sake of both common sense and a yearning to see the closing credits start rolling. It is those audiences, not their money, who leave the theater mad.

Neil Morris

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