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Originally published Friday, January 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Movie review

Drop this "Money" and run

In this tepid crime comedy directed by Callie Khouri, three women (Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes) who work in menial jobs at the Federal Reserve Bank plot to rob the place.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1.5 stars

"Mad Money," with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Ted Danson, Adam Rothenberg. Directed by Callie Khouri, from a screenplay by Glenn Gers, based on the screenplay "Hot Money" by Neil McKay, Terry Winsor and John Mister. 102 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual material, language and brief drug references. Several theaters.

"Mad Money" is not Diane Keaton's worst movie of this still-young millennium — and how's that for damning with faint praise? In this tepid crime comedy directed by Callie Khouri, three women (Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes) who work in menial jobs at the Federal Reserve Bank plot to rob the place. Keaton's character is a dithery sort whose name is Bridget Cardigan, and she does indeed wear a lot of cardigans. This is perhaps the funniest thing in the movie, so don't say I didn't warn you.

Four years ago, Keaton received an Oscar nomination (her fourth) for her terrific work in the romantic comedy "Something's Gotta Give." Since then, she's appeared in one awful movie ("Because I Said So"), one mediocre movie ("The Family Stone"), a TV movie, and two unreleased feature films gathering dust on a shelf. Is this how Hollywood treats one of the great comedians of her generation — Annie Hall herself, for heaven's sake? Apparently, yes. And so "Mad Money" is a frustrating experience; you watch Keaton gamely trying to rise above the material, and you wonder why nobody's out there writing something better for her.

Khouri's movie occasionally finds moments for Keaton to display the light-voiced, meandering charm that made her famous, and she gives a lilting spin to a few lines that don't really deserve it. ("I'm good at Google," says Bridget cheerily at a job interview; knowing it's not the right answer but determined to fumble on through.) But her character, and much of the movie (which, in an unnecessarily showy plot device, begins after the crime and then spins backward), makes little sense. Bridget and her husband (Ted Danson), we're told, are deep in debt and ready to resort to desperate measures; hence the bank scheme. But why don't they just sell their spacious and beautifully decorated home and get a condo or something?

It makes no sense that this very conventional woman would hatch this bizarre plan, and even less than her co-workers would follow her into it. Queen Latifah fares reasonably well (this is not the worst Queen Latifah movie of the millennium, either); her matter-of-factness makes her a nice foil for Keaton's breeze. Holmes resorts to a glassy blandness — you're never quite sure if her character is an adorably free spirit or just clueless. They're an odd trio, and this is an odd, disposable movie; it melts away as you leave the theater, leaving nothing but vague dissatisfaction behind.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725


Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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