, 104 min, 2008
Director: Callie Khouri
Writers: Glenn Gers (screenplay), John Mister (earlier screenplay), Neil McKay (screenplay Hot Money) and Terry Winsor (screenplay Hot Money)
Stars: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes
Here is a generic sitcom – exactly the sort of film that gets released in mid-January – without a scintilla of wit, charm or suspense.
Mad Money concerns an upper-middle class white woman (Diane Keaton) whose husband (Ted Danson, looking like a cross between David Cronenberg and Frankenstein) has caused them serious debt, forcing her to get a job as a janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. She soon gets an idea about how to rob the joint, and little by little she and her cohorts – a rather decent single mother (Queen Latifah) and a dimwitted, pop-music-dancing piece of poor white trash (Katie Holmes; aka Mrs. Tom Cruise) – attempt to make their lives a little better. I never laughed once.
This is a good cast drowning in desperate material. I kind of liked Holmes and Latifah, but was depressed in particular to see the talents of Keaton and Danson, especially after his tour-de-force role on TV’s Damages, wasted on moderate dreck.
Callie Khouri (the writer of Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise) makes her directorial debut with a story that didn’t need to be told – not this way, not no how. A feeble attempt at an explanation for the title is made at the film’s conclusion, to no avail. Speaking of the film’s title, this should in no way be confused with Jim Cramer’s financial advising series – that one’s actually entertaining!
Incidentally, the film is a remake of a 2001 British TV movie, based – it turns out – on a true story involving a group that pulled this same stunt on the Bank of England. That sounds infinitely more entertaining than this drivel. For a better take on a similar subject, see Michael Tolkin’s The New Age (1994) with Judy Davis and Peter Weller as a couple of soulless Southern California yuppies who hit rock bottom and have to make some similar choices to the characters in this movie. There’s a film that’s far more insightful and disturbing, to fit our current economic climate.