U.S. Release Date:
January 18, 2008
Distributor: Overture Films
Director: Callie Khouri
Writer: Callie Khouri, Glenn Gers
Composer: James Newton Howard
Cast: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson
Running Time: 1 hour and 44 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sexual material and language, and brief drug references)
The bouncy, innocuous Mad Money is a light, cute little caper about three women who decide to rob the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Missouri. While this crime comedy's calculations do not quite reconcile with reality, the romp adds a twist with the welcome notion that, though money doesn't buy happiness, it is the means to that end.
These three dames could use it. These days, who couldn't? Like its predecessors, How to Beat the High Cost of Living and 9 to 5, Mad Money's female trio is financially strapped, desperate and, to a lesser extent, put upon by men—though men also play a role in pulling off the heist.
The leader and generator of the movie is Bridget (Diane Keaton in her trademark sweaters and belts), riffing off her resourceful Baby Boom character and plotting her way out of ruin when husband Ted Danson, getting the best lines, loses his corporate job. Miss Keaton plays up her eccentricity as an insatiable consumer who cannot resist a Cartier diamond.
Queen Latifah portrays single mom Nina and rounding out the threesome is Katie Holmes as a flighty trailer trasher with an iPod attached to her constantly grooving body. They all work at the Fed's bank as janitors that collect worn-out bills designated for shredding. Bridget, taking the sanitation position to earn more dollars, cooks the scheme to clean up.
Never mind that dressing in a color-coordinated ensemble for a day of scrubbing toilets ought to raise alarms among the bank's haughty security staff or how Nina, who initially resists temptation, came to give out her telephone number to underhanded Bridget. As a flaky, diabetic cleaning woman, Holmes, who inexplicably acquires a dim-witted boyfriend, is about as plausible as a Federal Reserve employee as she sounds. They are all too calm and collected as they pocket huge sums of money.
With Miss Keaton's bold Bridget appealing to Nina's self-interest and corrupting everyone within 50 miles of Kansas City, the conspiracy works. The suburban wife goes from watching Frontline to washing windows—while trying to keep up with shallow neighbors—and, in the process, starts rationalizing that stealing unusable cash is comparable to recycling. By environmentalist standards, she has a point. The bank robbery is clever.
Danson as Bridget's spouse has fun at his wife's expense, abetting the crime, Adam Rothenberg as Holmes's live-in meatpacker turned day trader (they need a cover story for the cash) and Roger Cross as a security guard with an eye for Latifah's Nina enhance the shenanigans. Clumsily formed flashbacks disrupt the proceedings.
Don't look too closely at what motivates Bridget to go from a housewife stepping up to hard work in tough times to a conniving thief and it's relatively easy to overlook hammy Holmes. With lessons learned and one politically incorrect (and really rewarding) ending, this enjoyable matinee material—the equivalent of a quickie or about "three minutes of pushups" as one character says in the funniest line—is worth a minor investment.