Friday, 16 August 2013


Until I retired from the library, I regular read lots of crime novels with the light weight Stephanie Plum novels being particular favourites. Now I would never have thought this possible as from the age of 7 to 60, either as a customer or member of staff, I couldn't keep away from libraries but since I retired, and after a handful of visits in the first year, I haven't been back since. Not that I've stopped reading, I've just got plenty of books from other sources including the ones that previously piled up unread. 

A few weeks ago I picked up a couple of Plum books that came out since I retired at the Animal Krackers charity shop, read them, enjoyed them and ordered four more I hadn't read from Amazon for the grand cost of 1p each (plus £2.80 postage.) This might have been a mistake as while reading one a year or so was fine, they tend to lose their impact when reading two a week.

I knew a movie of the first in the series came out a couple of years ago and to less than adulatory reviews but when I found it cheap on Amazon, and as many of the reviews there were quite positive, I decided to give it a try and watched it last night.

And damned if it wasn't rather likable. Importantly, alas with one exception, it was extremely well cast.

Connie, Stephanie, Lula

Grandma Mazur (Debbie Reynolds!)

Morelli and Ranger

Not shown but also fine are Stephanie's parents and Vinnie. Jason O'Mara may not look like the character of Morelli from the books (but then I never imagined the nutty Grandma Mazur as Debbie Reynolds) but he does the character perfectly and the chemistry with Katherine Heigl is just spot on. While not fatally sinking the film, Daniel Sunjata, the charisma free actor who plays Ranger, should be darkly drop-dead handsome, charismatic, and drily witty, none of which is on show here.

Katherine Heigl is not an actress I've had any interest in but she is absolutely perfect as Stephanie -smart, sassy, sweetly sexy, brave and foolish, good natured, and much more.  I just loved her in this. And so does author Janet Evanovich who knows a thing or two about Stephanie Plum.

So why was this movie a flop? It didn't recoup its budget of 40 million bucks, got widely panned, and Heigl was nominated for a Razzie for worst leading actress. Excuse me, but is there a similar film going around to the one I saw? It gets the flavour of the books almost perfectly and is a highly enjoyable time-passer. In no sense of the word is it a bad movie or Heigl a bad actor in it.

But what it should have been, with the same script and smaller budget, is the pilot for a TV series on Alibi where it would have fitted into the niche occupied by Castle, Bones, Rizzoli & Isles, and Body of Proof -all bar Castle are taken from series of crime  novels.

Put it down to one of life's strange mysteries.

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