Starring Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes. Rated PG.
Directed by Callie Khouri at the pace of an unhurried stroll, the comforting predictability of Mad Money is a little like watching I Love Lucy in slow motion. The plot? Three Kansas City coworkers at a Federal Reserve Bank act on a plan to steal bundles of cash deemed too worn for further use. You’d think Khouri, best known for penning Thelma & Louise, wouldn’t mind pushing the satirical envelope. But although the screenplay—credited to a group of four writers that doesn’t include Khouri—takes a few fitfully droll shots at everything from misogyny to greed, this is the kind of movie that’s stubbornly determined to play it safe. Just how much you’ll get out of Mad Money depends on how much you enjoy watching some very good actors on cruise control.
Diane Keaton lacks her usual quirky sense of pep as Bridget, a “Martha Stewart wannabe” whose sumptuous lifestyle is being jeopardized by massive debt. Working as a janitor in an ultrasecure bank, Bridget watches in agony as stacks of shabby bills are shredded on a daily basis. Her disposition changes when she comes up with a clever way to gain access to the money just before it’s due to become confetti.
To reveal how this is done would spoil the only surprise here. Let’s just say that the plan hinges on the cooperation of the cautious Nina (a frustratingly low-key Queen Latifah) and a ditz named Jackie (Katie Holmes, whose crazy-eyed gleam keeps threatening to make things truly interesting). In short, you won’t miss much if you decide to wait for the DVD. And don’t worry about pressing the pause button if you feel like checking out the fridge. Trust me. You’ll catch up.