Don and Bridget Cardigan's upper middle class lifestyle is threatened since Don, who has been out of work for a year, seems to have given up looking for a job, and housewife Bridget has been out of the workforce for most of her life. They are close to $300,000 in debt. Finding out this information, Bridget comes to the conclusion that she needs to get a job - any job - that at least provides them with some benefits. She reluctantly takes a job as a janitor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Almost immediately, Bridget is enthralled with all the old worn out money that is being shredded. She comes up with a plan to get her old lifestyle back by stealing much of that money, which she believes is an easy job since the locks used on the money carts are standard equipment and as she notices that no one ever checks the garbage as she goes about her work. Her plan needs the cooperation of one person who works the shredder and one person who pushes the carts of money. The two people ... Written by
"Mad Money" has reasonable entertainment value, great characters, and even a nice little unexpected twist at the end to satisfy the escapist movie-goer. The essential plot of Mad Money is not that original as heist movies go. The formula usually goes something like this: the characters are in a bad financial or similar situation, they find out about some booty supposedly completely unobtainable, devise a scheme to lift the booty which has some intriguing element(s) to it, and then go about getting the booty. Along the way there are some twists and turns to keep it interesting. If it's too easy, it won't work. Part of the fun is whether or not they will get away with it, and how they will do it. Heist movies are almost a dime a dozen these days, with fair such as "Oceans 11" (both the old and the new versions), its subsequent sequels, "Heist", "The Score", etc.
What gives "Mad Money" a unique flavor is the characters who enact the heist, essentially the Neapolitan kind: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Most Hollywood heist movies star middle-aged men devising elaborate schemes requiring PhD's to perpetrate the heist. In "Mad Money", the team of schemers are three women working at below-sea-level jobs at the Federal Reserve building: a white grandmother of the upper middle-class variety (Diane Keaton), a middle-aged African-American single mother trying to stay above water (Queen Latifah, who actually stuffs packs of bills into a large shredding machine), and Katie Holmes as a 20-something scatter-brain who will probably lose the better part of her hearing by movie's end. How Holmes ever landed a position at the Federal Reserve is one of the many intriguing mysteries of the movie. A rather unlikely swashbuckling gang of hoodlums who sport wash cloths and garbage bags instead of swords.
Keaton and Latifah have the most at stake in their interesting idea for a financial stimulus package: to lift ragged and torn bills from the Federal Reserve before they are about to be shredded. In other words, stealing money that really isn't money. However, I wouldn't try this at home. Year-round, the Federal Reserve acquires tons and tons of ragged and worn bills from banks and other large financial institutions and swaps them for new crisp clean bills. The ragged bills go by way of the shredding and pulping machines.
How they pull off the heist sort of works, although it does fray into a little bit of the fantastic as stealing from a Federal Governmental agency like the Federal Reserve is sort of akin to trying to raise the Titanic. It probably ain't gonna happen. However, a unique chemistry between the actors somehow makes the movie work, and the writers took the story seriously enough to give a lot of unexpected laughs, the way comedies of this type should be written. In other words, luckily the writers didn't try to make the movie "funny".
On a final note, the outstanding talent of the cast has to be Queen Latifah who does an excellent job of portraying a single mom who wants the booty but has ambivalence about the entire scheme. In fact the entire cast is excellent, with Diane Keaton believable as the guiding force behind the heist, and Ted Danson as her bewildered husband. My only criticism is that I would have liked a little more of a hint regarding the twist at the end which did come out of left field. Enjoyable and worth the price of admission, although I doubt I will shell out another 20 bucks for the DVD.
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