Posted on May 12, 2008 at 4:00 pm
What force on earth is strong enough to unite an upper middle class suburban housewife, a poor African-American single mother and a young, spaced-out rock n’ roll fan living in a trailer? Why, the opportunity to steal from the government, of course.
“Mad Money” is a conventional heist comedy about a plot to steal money from the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes star as low-level employees of the Bureau who come up with a complicated plan to get around the elaborate security procedures. Working together beneath the notice of government officials, the three women combine their roles to walk off with bags of used money that has been returned to the Bureau to be destroyed. Each of them has a different justification for their decision to steal — a special need or a past injustice that the money will cure.
As the plot unfolds, the three women face a number of scares and near misses with guards and auditors. They learn a lot about each other, and confront problems with their spouses and boyfriends. As they become wealthier, each has to struggle with the temptation to spend money in ways that might bring them to the attention of the authorities.
But the temptations and confrontations take a back seat in this film to showcasing simple-minded greed and hedonism. We see montages of all the wonderful material possessions you can buy if you are rich. We see our three heroines bouncing on the bed together, giggling and throwing wads of money in the air. We see them stuffing fists full of bills into their underwear. Ultimately we see them burning barrels of excess money. What fun! Diane Keaton may be scrubbing toilets as a cleaning woman at the Bureau, but she wears an immense diamond ring while doing it, to help overcome the indignity of her position.
“Mad Money” has a few good lines, and the plot to steal money is rather clever, but ultimately this is an unimpressive sitcom that appeals to the worst in its audience.
Parents should know that the film has several non-explicit references to sex, drugs and bathroom functions. Diane Keaton and her husband Ted Danson are so exhilarated at their new-found wealth that they go back to having sex in their car. Queen Latifah contemplates using sex to silence a possible witness. Queen Latifah asks her children’s private school if she can pay their tuition in crack cocaine.
Families who see this movie should talk about how each of the characters justified stealing. Who had the best reason? Did you think their treatment at the end was fair?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Who’s Minding the Mint, How to Steal a Million, and Millions.