How’s this for a money shot? Bridget (Diane Keaton), who has just gone to work as a cleaning woman at the Kansas City Federal Reserve, looks up at a security monitor and sees vast piles of currency. Here’s the sexy part: They’re being fed through a paper shredder — one of the bank’s daily rituals, as grungy old bills are taken out of circulation. Now, that’s temptation. If Bridget, toiling as a custodian after her financial-analyst husband (Ted Danson) was downsized, can figure out a way to lift that cash, she’ll be stealing money that no longer exists. Talk about an untraceable — and victimless — crime!
Mad Money, a sisters-in-greed heist comedy that’s like Fun With Dick and Jane crossed with Set It Off, may be a formula flick, but as directed by Callie Khouri (the writer of Thelma & Louise), it gives you a good, infectious dose of its heroines’ money fever. Bridget finds two accomplices: Nina (Queen Latifah), a cynical, seen-it-all inner-city mom, and Jackie (Katie Holmes), a hip-wiggling flake plugged into her headphones. Their plan to lift the shreddable loot is ingenious in its relative simplicity, making Mad Money a crime caper that agreeably transcends disbelief. The actresses need all their charm, though, since the characters they’re playing are just about as thin as those paper bills. Latifah coasts on grit and verve, and Holmes has a goggle-eyed sweetness, but it’s Keaton who rules. She makes Bridget a sneaky bourgeois avenger, willing to fake a showboat crazy fit, using her crinkly warmth to say to the audience: Admit it — you’d take that money too. B-