So you've been warned. This movie would have had to *try* deliberately to piss me off. It didn't. Take all the gushing with a grain of salt.
The movie revolves around Stephanie Plum, a Jersey girl from the Burg. Stephanie lost her job as a lingerie buyer six months ago and has managed to just not mention that fact to her family until she can't hide it any longer. Mostly because her car is repossessed in front of their house while she's there for dinner. Her mothers solution to the problem is to get Stephanie married, again. Stephanie, having tried marriage once and not liked it, mostly because her husband was a cheating dick, is looking for a job.
Her grandmother suggests asking her cousin Vinnie, saying that he has a filing job available at his bail bonds business. Stephanie, desperate, shows up to find out that the filing job is non-existent. The only job available is that of bounty hunter. Connie, Vinnie's office manager, offers Stephanie a high-value skip: Joe Morelli.
Vinnie doesn't want to give Stephanie the job, seeing as how she is completely unqualified for it, but she blackmails him into it. In the movie it's bout a chatty manicurist she knows who moonlights as a dominatrix. I think it's funnier in the book because the details are left mostly to the imagination. In the book all that's mentioned is that it was something about Vinnie and a duck. Whichever way you slice it, Vinnie gives Stephanie the job rather than have his mob-boss father in law find out about his sexual indiscretions.
Aside from the $50,000 bounty (significantly raised for the movie from the 1994 book price bounty of a percentage of the $10,000 bond), Stephanie has a more personally satisfying reason for wanting to catch Morelli. Morelli is the boy that Stephanie lost her virginity to, behind the counter of the Tasty Pastry she worked at in high school. He then failed to call and wrote dirty, though flattering, things about her on bathroom walls. In what Stephanie and her entire family insist was an 'accident', she ran him over with her father's Buick, breaking his leg in three places.
Morelli survived to become a vice cop, now accused of murder.
In the course of trying to track Morelli down, Stephanie becomes aware of a series of murders that remove any witnesses to his supposed crime. She also proceeds to get herself way in over her head, attract the attention of a murderous rapist and get shot at and nearly killed multiple times. There's violence in the books and the movie (more on that in a bit), but that's not the point of them. You don't come away from them remembering the bloodshed. At heart they are comedies with some romance and some mystery/drama. You come away remembering how hard you laughed.
Here's the thing. Stephanie is awesome. She does some incredibly stupid things; see, getting into a MMA style boxing ring with above mentioned rapist, after she's been warned that he has some 'anger issues' towards women, as an example. And she doesn't have the first clue about being a recovery agent in the beginning, but she's willing to learn. She takes up with Ranger, a truly bad-ass recovery agent, in order to learn how to do her new job to the best of her abilities.
In a world where it would be easier, more accepted and even expected for her to get remarried and start popping out kids, Stephanie is determined to stay self-sufficient. Just her and Rex, her pet hamster. With maybe some Ranger (more on Ranger in a bit) and Morelli thrown in on the sides. Stephanie is determined to live her life the way she sees fit and not fall into the, as she sees it, trap that has claimed her mother and her sister.
Now then. Quibbles.
The violence: I'm not really sure why, maybe because they wanted it to be more heavily a comedy than anything else, but the movie downplayed the violence from the book. Not so much the out and out violence, since there's not a whole lot of that on the pages, but more the implications of it. Lula (a hooker who helps Stephanie by speaking when no one else will tell her the truth), gets beat up in the movie and dumped in front of Stephanie's apartment. In the book, Lula is beaten, raped in an incredibly violent manner, and tied to the fire escape outside of Stephanie's window. None of that happens on the page. You get the aftermath, with Stephanie horrified and rushing to help this woman who has become her friend. The details of the attack are never given, nothing is ever done to glorify or linger over it. Everything is skillfully implied enough that you understand just how bad the attack was without having an exact picture painted for you.
Ramirez (the rapist, murderous, thug), calls Stephanie once in the movie, threatening her. In the book, he stalks her. There's a great deal of difference between the feeling of relief you get at the end of the movie with regards to Benicio being taken out and at the end of the book because the book makes him so much more threatening.
So I think they could have done more with those aspects, done them well and not lost the comedic flavor of the movie. But that's just me.
And then there's Ranger. Oh, Ranger. Ranger, in the books, is a recovery agent/bounty hunter who is ex-if I told you what I did I'd have to kill you, and is starting up his own security firm. The man has lived. He's been around and seen a lot of stuff. Done a lot too. The actor that they chose for him is handsome enough, though I admit to having pictured Ranger as darker in skin tone than Daniel Sunjata, but I accept him as a 'Ranger' in the looks department. My issue is that he just looks too young! Did Ranger join the military when he was ten? That's the only way he could have done all the things he's possibly done, since he can't talk about them, and be as young as he looks in the movie.
And there wasn't enough of him. Ranger is the other love interest in the books. Stephanie is torn between Ranger and Morelli, it's part of where the romantic tension comes from, though why none of them have realized that many of their problems could be solved with a threesome, I don't know.. There was plenty of Morelli, and I do love the character, but there was not enough Ranger.
Morelli...let's face it, O'Mara doesn't really scream 'Italian' in the looks department. But I'm willing to ignore that in favor of it being O'Mara. Like I said, I'm totally biased on this movie.
Ranger! *waves her Ranger flag* Morelli! *waves Morelli flag in her other hand*
|Picture randomly found on the internet. I didn't make it and I can't find who made it to give them credit.|
I couldn't choose between them either. But I'm smart enough to suggest the threesome. :D
I'm giving it a 4 out of 5, for lack of Ranger and not managing to walk the line with the violence that Evanovich does in the books. I know it's been getting bad reviews in the press, but whatever. The rating system is based on *my* enjoyment of the movie. And I enjoyed it.