Saturday, January 21, 2012

At The Movies

If you haven't seen the trailer for 'One For the Money' yet, you soon will.  This is the movie adaptation of the first of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels--the first of 22 she has written.  The first one was published in 1994 and I started reading the series in 1995.  I've read all of the books and am still enjoying them--even though some of them are starting to seem like Evanovich is 'phoning it in,' so to speak.  For the most part, I laugh until I cry while reading these books and have been known to wake the household with my laughter--at 3:00AM.  I certainly hope she doesn't continue this series too much longer because the books are not as good as they once were--it is best to get out when you still are on top.  Anyway, before I start with the movie, here is a bit about some of the characters:

The main character, Stephanie Plum, is a Jersey girl.  In Book 1 she is recently divorced and laid off from her job as a lingerie buyer.  Desperate, she gets a job as a bounty hunter/apprehension agent.  Having no experience is no deterrent, as she is in real need of a job--and the bail bondsman is her cousin.  Stephanie lives on her own in a nondescript apartment building with her hamster, Rex.  She is quite close with her family and often goes to her parent's house to eat--especially when she is having money trouble.  Stephanie describes herself as being of Italian-Hungarian descent, that she has a fast metabolism, has brown curly hair and blue eyes.

Stephanie's parents live five miles away and her maternal grandmother lives with them.  While The Parents try and cope with a daughter who is involved with serious situations, they also have to cope with grandma, who is more than a little 'off.'  Grandma's favorite thing to do is attend wakes at the local funeral homes.  She often will open the casket to 'take a peek'--and this usually has hysterical consequences.  At some point, she acquires a gun and will whip it out at very inappropriate times--she manages to shoot a (cooked) turkey during dinner in Book 1.  

Stephanie gets two men in her life in the first book.  Joe Morelli is someone she has know almost her entire life. Joe--or the Italian Stallion--is a bad boy turned vice cop in the 'Burg.'  She gave up her virginity to him when she was 16 and they have had a love/hate relationship ever since.  They renew acquaintances in Book 1.  The second man that Stephanie becomes involved with is Ranger.  He is Cuban-American and a fellow bounty hunter.  Ranger is gorgeous and mysterious and a man of few words.  (He has the ability to turn Stephanie's knees to Jell-o just by whispering "Babe" in her ear.)

Vinnie--Stephanie's cousin--owns the bail bond office where she finds work.  He is a complete and total sleazoid--it is rumored that he once had a romantic encounter with a duck--and most people can barely tolerate him.  Most of his time is spent avoiding work of any kind and talking to his bookie.

In the first book, Stephanie meets Lula--a hooker.  Eventually, Lula 'gives up the life' and goes to work in the bail bond office as a file clerk.  She is best described as a plus-size black woman who attempts to shove a size 16 body into size 10 spandex.  She favors bold and bright colors in her apparel.

While this series of books are described as crime novels, I find them to be more comedy than anything.  The first few books had more dire and serious aspects to them, but the later books seem to be much more light-hearted.  One of the best things in the books are the crazy, kooky characters.  A running joke throughout all of the books is Stephanie's inability to keep cars in one piece--she has the tendency to get several destroyed in every book.  (Although, she isn't always entirely culpable in the destruction of the vehicles.)  The one car that never gets damaged in any way is the one designated as her 'go-to' car whenever she is in need:  Her uncle's powder blue '53 Buick Roadmaster.

Almost from the time The Youngest and I started reading these books, we could see them being turned into movies.  We would sit and discuss who we wanted to play each part and pretty much agreed on who would be best suited for each role.  And now the first of what may be many movies has been filmed and is about to show up in the theaters.  To say I am more than a little disappointed, is an understatement.  I realize that the people who would have been perfect for these roles are 10+ years older (or dead!) and wouldn't work anymore, but still.  (Actually, some of the actors probably were too old ten years ago even.)  I'm not sure I will be seeing this, as I cannot tolerate the actress who will be playing Stephanie:  Katherine Heigl.  Anyway, here are the actors cast in the movie and the ones I think would have been a better fit.

Katherine Heigl was cast.

I always thought that Stephanie Zimbalist (remember her?) would have done wonders with this role.

(Of course, I remember her from her 'Remington Steele' days and she was WAY too old even ten years ago.)  Other suggestions were Debra Messing and Sandra Bullock.   I'm REALLY not feeling Heigl in this part and I hope it won't hurt the movie too badly.

Joe Morelli:
Jason O'Mara was cast.

I favored Joe Penny in this role.

Once again, I remember him from his younger days.  Some people thought that Joe should have been played by Joe Manganiello or  David Boreanaz.  I'm not too sure which of today's actors I would pick...

Daniel Sunjata was cast.

I could never see anyone but Benjamin Bratt as Ranger.

One suggestion for Ranger that I might be able to get behind is Jason Momoa, but I'm not too sure about Vin Diesel or 'The Rock' in this part.

Sherri Shepherd was cast.

The only one I could ever see as Lula was Marsha Warfield.

She probably was too old to play Lula even when she was on 'Night Court,' but I could see her in this part. The other actors suggested instead were Mo'Nique and Queen Latifah.  I could see Queen Latifah doing this part well.

Patrick Fischler was cast.

I really can see this casting, but my first choice would have been Danny DeVito.  No one plays sleaze like he does.

Some thought that Steve Buscemi was made for this part--and I could see him doing it, as well.

Debbie Reynolds was cast.

I could see no one but Estelle Getty playing Grandma.

Most people think that Betty White or Ann Morgan Guilbert would have been much better choices.  I agree that Ann Guilbert would have played the hell out of this role.

Now the question is, have any of you read these books?  How do my picks match with yours?  And other than these books, have you ever made up your mind as to who should play certain characters in movie adaptations of books you have read--and how pleased or disappointed have you been?  Do movie adaptations ever live up to your expectations or are they always worse than the books?  Discuss.


ordinaryjanet said...

I saw the trailer, I hope the movie is as good as the book. I got a kick out of Grandma, I agree that Estelle Getty would have been perfect. Maybe they didn't want an "old old lady" for the role.

Too bad they waited so long to make the movie, those people you picked would have been great. Especially Benjamin Bratt. I think Stephanie Zimbalist might have been a little too classy for the part, though.

ordinaryjanet said...

The only thing I can think of is I thought Tommy Lee Jones would have been perfect to play James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux from the series. But Alec Baldwin (can't stand him) got to play Dave in the first movie that was made, and Tommy Lee Jones finally played him in another movie (which I haven't seen yet even though I own the DVD). I'm worried that it's a stinker because I didn't hear anything about it when it came out. I didn't even know about this TLJ movie until I saw it in a video store.

cmk said...

Far too many of the cast just don't seem to fit the parts--and no one more that Katherine Heigl. You are right about Stephanie Zimbalist, but she was as close as I could come up with. Stephanie Plum is such a unique character that they might have been better off going with a complete unknown.

While I haven't seen the movie--and, frankly, it doesn't look worth it--I think they really miscast 'Water For Elephants.' Neither Reese Witherspoon OR Robert Pattinson seem suited for the characters. I'm sure I could think of other examples of either good or bad casting, but that would require using my brain and I think it is offline right now. ;)