Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes co-star as an unlikely trio of bank robbers in a new comedy from writer/director Callie Khouri. Alan Silverman has a look at Mad Money.
The comic caper starts with a lifestyle falling apart. Bridget, played by Diane Keaton, lives a comfortable suburban life until her business executive husband - Ted Danson - is laid off from his high-paying job.
He is completely demoralized so she decides it is time for her to becom the breadwinner; but the realities of the job market are not pretty.
Bridget finds work as a janitor at the regional branch of the Federal Reserve Bank, the U.S. government's central bank. There she sees - and this is true - stacks of worn-out paper money that are destroyed every day.
She convinces two other women who work at the 'Fed' to join her plot: single mom Nina, played by Queen Latifah and free spirit Jackie, played by Katie Holmes. To their amazement, they succeed.
Diane Keaton sees Mad Money as less about getting away with a crime and more about social issues.
"To me this movie has resonance with the time we're living in right now," Keaton says. "It's also about three overlooked invisible women who, through fate and hard times, are thrown together and yet together they make much more than they ever were separately. Particularly for my character, it gives her an opportunity to learn a lesson as well, which is all those fantasies about money lead to a greater problem. I feel like my character has to learn that lesson."
"I think part of the whole idea of it is crime is contagious in a way, " adds Queen Latifah.
Latifah says her character, whose job at the bank is shredding the 'old' money, is caught between temptation and her conscience.
"I think when you've not allowed yourself even to contemplate something and then someone comes along with something that is so simple and possible," she says. "I think even the most virtuous person with the most integrity would at least think about it."
The third accomplice, Katie Holmes as Jackie, rolls the locked carts of money from vault to vault.
"She has this job that is hard work. It doesn't require much thought," Holmes explains. "She just moves the cart from here to there and one could get very bored doing that. So she makes the best of it and I like that about her."
Working from a screenplay by Glenn Gers, director Callie Khouri - herself an Oscar-winning writer (for Thelma and Louise) says the challenge was to balance screwball comedy with believable situations.
"We wanted it to be just like life only funnier, which I kind of like to make the tone of everything I do," she says. "Sometimes I'm successful and certainly this time having the level of talent that we had made it easier."
Mad Money also features Roger Cross as the bank guard whose romantic interest in one of the robbers brings him into the plot; and Steven Root is the officious security chief who insists the crime could not happen on his watch. By the way, Federal Reserve Bank officials assisted the filmmakers in researching Mad Money and they claim it is fantasy: there is no way worn-out money can get out ...except as tiny scraps from the shredder.