Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mad Money

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM

The annual coming of a lackluster, soccer-mom-friendly Diane Keaton vehicle has become a new millennial nuisance as inevitable as the drone of annoying ring tones in public places. While it's always fun to see the once and forever Annie Hall still doing her faintly dithered, slightly exasperated comic thing, and her endless talent is not in question, but at some point soon her script selection process needs a shakeup. It's not that there's anything all that awful about her pleasant new crime caper, there's just nothing that memorable to recommend it.

The unshakable Ms. Keaton stars as would-be thief Bridget Cardigan, breezing through the storyline with a free ease that only comes with years of experience, and large piles of box office receipts to back it up. In support are comedy vets Ted Danson, as Keaton's laid-off white-collar husband Don, and Queen Latifah as Nina, her sassy single-mom partner-in-crime. The robbery in question is a victimless one, an inside heist of worn-out cash on its way to the shredder at the Kansas City Federal Reserve compound, where the ladies do thankless grunt work. They cook up a simple plan to switch the lock on the money bin with a store-bought new one, lift the dough and stash it in garbage bags. Bridget is the janitor, Nina works the shredder, but they need a third member — someone with access to the rolling money carts. Enter scientology's fave incubator pin-up Katie Holmes, in a charmingly ridiculous performance as eccentric party girl Jackie. She wears mismatched clothes, pops bubble gum, bops to loud music on her iPod, and otherwise behaves pretty much like a Valley girl refugee from an '80s teen flick. This is but one of the screenplay's misfires, which fails to render realistic characters, tie up loose ends or produce anything more than an occasional snicker. The jokes don't work, aren't there or arrive D.O.A. — like the pair of macho security guards who make leering comments at Keaton as if she were still the hot young thing of 1976. To her credit, director Callie Khouri (Divine Secret of the Ya Ya Sisterhood) keeps things chugging along and doesn't resort to excessive slapstick, but she doesn't get anything remotely special from the material or the likable cast. Too bad.

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