Light and fluffy as a cupcake, Katherine Heigl’s many talents are truly wasted in this story based on the first of eighteen best-selling Stephanie Plum novels. With critics giving the film a huge thumbs down and box-office business in America only buoyed by massive discount ticket schemes, it may also be the last we see of Stephanie Plum.
After losing her job as a department store lingerie buyer and finding herself completely broke, Ms Plum returns to her parents’ home in the small town of Trenton, New Jersey to start over. It doesn’t take her too long to find work with her cousin Vinny (Patrick Fischler), who runs a business bringing in people wanted by the law for breaking bail. The first case for the amateur bounty-hunter in heels is a cop named Joe Morelli (Jason O’Mara) wanted for murder – who also happens to be an old flame. Trenton is that kind of small town. Enlisting the help of a couple of street girls, the local police, a hot security whiz named Ranger (Daniel Sunjata), and her cheery grandmother, Stephanie quickly finds herself in a crime mystery involving drugs, guns, boxers and missing bodies.
Author Janet Evanovich once described her central character as “incredibly average” and Heigl portrays her as just that – an everyday gal who uses a combination of feminine wile, dumb luck and naïve boldness to solve the crime and get her man (not that there’s much chemistry between Heigl and O’Mara). Leaving aside an annoying first-person voice-over from Plum in detective mode, the dialogue is snappy but the plot inane and the style charmless. Most inelegant is the strange mix of rom-com cute with brutal violence – characters we are laughing at one moment are blown up or blown away the next. It’s as if director Julie Anne Robinson wasn’t sure what to make of the screenplay (which had three writers attached). The result is a bland cocktail of crime investigation, romantic comedy and forced gags.