Mad Money
Starz / Anchor Bay // PG-13 // $39.98 // November 18, 2008
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted November 2, 2008
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In what will stand as one of the most absurd choices in Hollywood history, Katie Holmes decided to leave the reboot of the "Batman" franchise in order to do "Mad Money". "Batman" sequel "The Dark Knight" ended up grossing $571M in the US, breaking box office records. "Mad Money" went on to gross $20M, opening with $9M on an otherwise empty January weekend.

There's also another problem - "Money"'s just not very good. Directed by "Thelma and Louise" writer Callie Khouri, "Money" focuses on Jackie (Katie Holmes), Nina (Queen Latifah) and Bridget (Diane Keaton), three women who wind up working at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Bridget takes the job because she recently found out that her husband (Ted Danson) had been downsized from his job.

Bridget's job is essentially taking out the garbage, taking the worn out bills that are shredded (see article here for more information:
) and taken out of circulation at the Reserve. Bridget and the other two realize that, gee, maybe we could just take some of this money and, since it's going to be shredded anyways, no one would be the wiser if they nabbed it.

What's remarkable is that the three pull together a plan with ease. Taking money out of the Federal Reserve is, according to "Mad Money", not some sort of "Mission: Impossible", but instead, a mission that can be accomplished without breaking a sweat. The fact that the Holmes character seems more than a little dimwitted (and the other characters made some idiotic choices, too) makes it even more difficult to believe. Speaking of dim, the characters don't exactly keep things under wraps, talking about plans in public (in one occasion in the middle of a restaurant) and bringing in other characters.

The performances aren't particularly good, either, although Queen Latifah emerges as the most enjoyable of the bunch. Keaton's character comes off as shrill and unlikeable, while Holmes is stuck playing a one-dimensional character. The underrated Stephen Root (who will apparently never get a role as good as his magnificently funny Jimmy James character from "Newsradio") doesn't get much to do in a supporting role and Ted Danson wanders into the film, looking as if he's collecting a paycheck.

Aside from the story flaws, and weak characters, the other big issue is the fact that "Mad Money" is surprisingly slow for a movie about three women taking money from the Federal Reserve. This might be due - at least in part - to the film's unfortunate decision to show the end first and then show what occurs in flashbacks, draining tension out of an already slow movie. To round it all off, the film has the bland look of a TV movie and the film's message is not exactly a positive one. Overall, "Mad Money" is a miss.


VIDEO: Anchor Bay presents "Mad Money" in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC). Video quality is pretty standard, as while the picture remained crisp and clear throughout much of the movie, definition was never particularly impressive. Some minor noise is seen in some scenes, but no edge enhancement or print flaws are spotted during the film. Colors generally look a tad subdued, especially in the plain interiors of the Fed scenes.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. This is a "comedy mix" just about the whole way through. The surrounds come into play during a moment with a helicopter late in the movie, but are otherwise silent throughout the majority of the film. Audio quality was fine, with clear dialogue and crisp score.

EXTRAS: Director Callie Khouri offers an audio commentary for the film.
I think the fact that Khouri mentions that surprised me most was that the production actually got advice from the Federal Reserve, who I was almost sure would have not wanted to be involved with a movie with this subject matter. The commentary is otherwise decent overview of the picture, with the director chatting about working with the actresses, creating the characters, deleted story elements and a few behind-the-scenes stories. The commentary gets a little heavy on the praise and has a few moments of silence, but is generally an okay listen. We also get about 10 minutes of deleted scenes, but no commentary is offered to discuss the reasons for their deletion. "Makin' Money" is a short, fluffy featurette about the making of the flick. Finally, we also get the trailer.

Final Thoughts: Dreary, dull and dim, "Mad Money" tries to be a caper comedy and fails to get laughs or thrills. The Blu-Ray edition boasts satisfactory audio/video quality, along with a few extras. Skip it.

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