How do I love Stephanie Plum? Let me count the ways: One for the Money, Two for the Dough, ….and every one to Explosive Eighteen.
It is important to note that I have been a fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series for YEARS, literally since the first release in 1994. So as you can imagine, waiting for the movie to hit my local theater was torturous. I restrained myself from racing to the first showing and graciously waited until a couple of my gal pals and fellow readers could nail down a suitable time.
After much anticipation the experience was not completely satisfying. As any reader would agree, the movie almost never quite matches up to the book. I have had visions of Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger swirling through my mind at least once a year for a very long time and had a clear set of images. I knew there would be no way those exact replicas would actually show up on-screen, but I had hopes they’d be close….at least closer than what appeared.
Before I could truly form any kind of unbiased opinion I had to let go of the ‘bad jersey accent on/bad jersey accent off’ awkwardness of Katherine Heigl’s take on Stephanie Plum’s voice. Once I found a happy place with her dialect I thought she was sweet and somewhat amusing to watch. Anyone not familiar with the book series probably found her performance somewhat delightful. However, the images of Stephanie built-in my mind do not conjure up sweet or delightful. Stephanie has an internal grit and determination that never came through in Heigl’s interpretation. Stephanie is not ‘turn heads’ gorgeous, teacher’s pet or ‘take home to mother’ perfect. She’s the girl you have to invest some time in to appreciate the gem quality that lies within. Tina Fey would have would have portrayed her well and I wish I could have seen that version.
Jason O’Mara as Joe Morelli was a surprise. Never having seen any of his earlier works, he was a virtual unknown to me. Disappointment set in at first because I didn’t think his look matched up to my expectations. I pictured a dark-haired Josh Holloway from Lost, but O’Mara did okay. A friend told me she thought O’Mara reminded her of a young Mel Gibson from the Lethal Weapon days and that was it…couldn’t shake the thought. What I liked most about his performance was that he had intensity that stood out and was true to Joe Morelli.
Enter Ranger, Daniel Sujata from Rescue Me filled the Ranger stats quite well, but lacked Ranger’s mystery and depth. So sorry to say because I wanted (truly wanted) to be excited to see Ranger come alive on-screen. In the book, Ranger is mysterious in every way. He looks daunting, smells fabulous and is all about the action. When I think of those nice looking Hollywood types I think of lollipops. Ranger is the whole candy store, in fact he owns it. He won’t hesitate to do what it takes to get the job done and yet he’d totally save a drowning kitty… or in this case Stephanie. Just wanted someone to find the real Ranger and put this Ken doll version back in the box.
Connie was off the mark, Vinnie was close, Grandma Mazur played by Debbie Reynolds was unique and entertaining but not the Grandma Mazur I have come to know and love.
Now, Lula played by Sherri Shepherd was a bonus, but there was simply not enough of her in the movie. Some serious things go down in the book involving Lula and yet the movie completely glossed over it, which is fine but they kept ‘baby in the corner’ on that safe call.
I just wanted more. I had big hopes for something resembling the real deal and what appeared was One for the Money-light with little flavor and no commitment to the essence of what has held readers interest for eighteen years. Sure the movie hit most of the main points of the storyline and managed to introduce key characters, but let’s think about this for a minute. Janet Evanovich has written eighteen books offering simple plot lines and a main character that has had very little personal growth. How has Evanovich performed such magic?
On a daily basis I work on finding my own bit of magic and I appreciate the sparkle emanating off writer’s all around me, so is it too much to expect some magic out of movie execs?
I wish someone on that movie set would have said, “Let’s do this!”, meant it and executed it….for real.