Three women rob the Federal Reserve in this floundering social-problems

Mad Money

on January 18, 2008 by Amy Nicholson

The latest vibrato performance of Diane Keaton's late career shame has her playing once-wealthy housewife Bridget Cardigan, whose twee name and dithering hysteria are equally insufferable. After downsized husband Ted Danson, looking ever more like The Simpsons' Kent Brockman, puts their McMansion up for sale, Bridget becomes a janitor at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. Upon discovering that her employers shred millions in battered bills every day, she stalks noble single mom Nina (Queen Latifah) and loopy Jackie (Katie Holmes, looking strange in motion after two years of tabloids) until they agree to help her fleece a fortune.

With lots of high-octane mugging and noisy high fives, director Callie Khouri imagines she's shooting a slick and funny comedy wholly disconnected from Glenn Gers’ quasi-intellectual screenplay, which is punctuated by interrogation-room monologues where the robbers wax nuggets of Ralph Naderian philosophy like, "We're a consumerist society—and she got consumed."

Complexity isn't the film's strength either: Latifah's story arc hinges on her two young sons—largely unseen and nameless—while no fewer than three scenes focus on her seven-year stretch of celibacy. And, in deference to her limited acting ability, Holmes' character is given no development besides being a dancing diabetic with psychic abilities and a moronic husband (Adam Rothenberg) who works as a meat packer.

Only one moment, in which the newly flush Nina enrolls her sons in a posh private school, zings with satiric social comedy: After the judgmental principal tells her they don't accept financial-aid students midway through the year, she shocks the stuffed shirt by claiming she can pay in full today. He blinks in surprise, and Latifah twinkles, "Can I pay you in crack?"

Distributor: Overture
Cast: Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and Ted Danson
Director: Callie Khouri
Screenwriters: Glenn Gers
Producers: James Acheson, Jay Cohen and Frank DeMartini
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG-13 for sexual material and language, and brief drug references
Running time: 107 min.
Release date: January 18, 2008

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