- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2008

“Mad Money” teems with loot. Its three central characters, who work at the Federal Reserve and hatch a plan to steal its decommissioned bills, are literally rolling in dough. So why does the director Callie Khouri and screenwriter Glenn Gers’ film feel so cheap?

Let’s see. Where to start?

How about the plot? Its faulty keystone is Bridget (Diane Keaton), an unemployed, upper-middle-class white woman who learns that her husband, Don (Ted Danson), has been hiding serious financial woes from her. After years outside the work force, Bridget has no choice but to re-enter; unfortunately, she’s not qualified for anything other than a janitorial position at Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank.

Before we have a second to ponder whether this prissy woman would really accept this post, we’re distracted by all the money lying around the Fed. Gobs of it. In fact, the organization actually destroys stacks and stacks of it when it gets too old — information that Bridget mentally files away.

One day, she goes to Home Depot to replace a faulty faucet and decides that stealing from the government — just the retired bills, of course — is a great idea. Home Depot has probably sparked all kinds of depraved thoughts in shoppers’ minds, particularly on those busy Saturdays, but we’re not buying that this mother with no criminal record who drives a Range Rover and has an endless supply of pearls can’t come up with a better alternative — like liquidating her jewelry assets.

Nor are we buying the notion that Bridget and two female co-workers — single mother Nina (Queen Latifah) and space-cadet Jackie (Katie Holmes) — are truly capable of outsmarting the Fed using a series of winks, a fake lock, distracting dance moves and some carefully timed trash pickups.

Oh, and we forgot to mention that these thieves stuff the giant wads of cash into their clothes and that somehow, their misshapen forms and the papery crackle of their steps don’t raise any red flags at the requisite end-of-day security checks.

Couple the string of implausibilities with one-dimensional characters and some mildly offensive (or at least eye-roll-inducing) treatment of racial issues, and you get a movie that fails to make the minimum payment on viewing pleasure. Such a shame, given the talented cast.

Miss Keaton seems to be starting to pigeonhole herself, taking comedic roles as whiny, wealthy white women. As we saw in last year’s disastrous “Because I Said So,” it’s not a good look for her.

Neither Katie Holmes nor Queen Latifah fare much better here, being forced to inhabit stockish sort of characters.

Our advice: Stay at home and avoid falling prey to this heist altogether.


TITLE: “Mad Money”

RATING: PG-13 (for sexual material, language and brief drug references)

CREDITS: Directed by Callie Khouri. Written by Glenn Gers.

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

WEB SITE: www.madmoneymovie.com

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