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[I return momentarily with reviews of a few movies that opened today.] 

If Mad Money wasn’t directed by the woman who wrote Thelma & Louise, a great feminist film, maybe I could like it a little more. Scenes are contrived, characters are boring, and “comic” lines fall flat, and though I may be able to turn a blind eye to some of these elements in an otherwise good movie by a lesser director, the fact that it could have been intelligent and worth my time bugs me. Now, don’t get me wrong: Mad Money isn’t as bad as you might think. It’s just unforgivable.

Bridget and Don (Diane Keaton and Ted Danson) are married, and they need money after accumulating a ridiculous amount of debt. Forced out of retirement, the two must get jobs, and Bridget finds an opening at the Federal Reserve. There, she befriends Nina (Queen Latifah), whose job it is to destroy money that is worn and unusable. Bridget then cooks up a plot: since the incinerated money isn’t going to be used anyway, there’s nothing wrong with pocketing some of it. Together with Nina and Jackie (Katie Holmes), another fellow employee, they manage to steal a ton of money.

In the beginning of the film, there are some interesting touches about whether such a thieving act could actually be considered revolutionary. As a capitalist nation, we are programmed to make and spend money, and doing either in abundance tends to put one in a higher bracket of society. So is their behavior excusable, if not merely easy to sympathize with? This idea seems to be going somewhere, but this vanishes soon enough as Queen Latifah makes a joke about black people doing crack, and the film continually tries to get cute and create drama.

There are still funny moments in the movie. Danson is as dry as he is on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and there are a handful of good exchanges. The movie fails when it takes its drama too seriously and tries to make it something other than a light comedy.

Mad Money really could’ve been something special, and that’s especially why it gets a slap on the wrist.

Rating: 6/10


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