5 Plot Point Breakdown: Mad Money (2008)

By Xiaofeng Chen · April 1, 2015

Screenplay Genre: Crime / Comedy

Movie Time: 104 minutes

Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) is a middle-aged lady who lives in an American middle class family. She and her husband Don (Ted Danson) used to live their luxurious lifes without any concerns regarding financial. Until one day Don loses his job, and their mailbox is filled with bills and overdue notices. They find they have $286,000 in debts rendering them broke. So Bridget has to end her housewife life and look around for a job to help her family through the financial crisis. But Bridget’s college major was comparative literature and she had next to no work experience. So she is rejected here and there again and again. In despair, her housemaid introduces her to a bank who needs a cleaner. Bridget has no choice but to clean clothes and work this mundane job.

Day after day Bridget does her crap job, but she sees what this bank is doing: They are not only bringing in money; they are also destroying it: the used bills. Everyday they pick out the used bills from the goods, put them into cash carts and lock up in the inspection room. Then they transport the money to the shredding room on another floor. Here, the shredding workers unlock the cash carts and shred the money under security. Bridget sees how this system works and feels it is a massive waste.


One day when Bridget is shopping in a super market, she suddenly sees a lock on the goods shelf: it’s the exact same kind of lock with the one on the cash cart in the bank. She gets an idea, no, a plan…(14:37)

For the first step, Bridget must draw in the shredding worker: Nina Brewster (Queen Latifah), who’s a single mother of two boys. Bridget tries to persuade her to do it with her. Nina is afraid of being put into jail and losing her children so she refuses it. But she also wants to send her children to an elite school to be well educated. So she accepts Bridget’s proposal.

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

And they must persuade the cash cart transporter to join them: Jackie Truman (Katie Holmes), a young woman who has an early diabetes mellitus since she was nine and now is living in a bus with her husband Bob. Jackie goes along with them without a hesitation. Now their plan to rob the money from the bank is solidified! (26:57)

Their first attempt is ruined by Jackie’s disorganized endocranium: When Bridget and Nina are ready to go for the money Jackie suddenly tells them they must stop it because she has “a bad feeling.” She is right. The bank launches a surprise security inspection on the staff. Every employee is not going away without a thorough search. They are so lucky to dodged a bullet!

When they have built up their courage again, they go on with their plan: Bridget changes the lock on the cash cart when she is cleaning it. She remembers the number of the cash cart and tells Jackie. Jackie finds the cash cart while she is transporting it to the shredding room. At the elevator she opens the lock stealthily, takes some money and throws it into the trash bin. Later the Bridget will take the money from it. And in the shredding room, Nina opens the lock and change the right one back. Then she throws the rest of the money into the shredder, completes this “prefect bank robbery” without anybody else knowing it.


They succeed: get the money and their lives change. After six months, Nina thinks they have gotten enough money and it’s time to stop it. But Bridget and Jackie decide to go on. They believe their plan is perfect and never failing, but things begins to go wrong: One day Nina drops the key into the washing sink. Jackie has the backup key but she is on another floor and can’t go down to give it to Nina. Now the three of them have an emergency: Jackie puts the key into chewing gum and sticks it onto the elevator wall. Bridget takes it on another floor. At the same time Nina is buying time at the security guard Barry (Roger Cross) who has noticed her. Bridget runs to Nina in time and throws the key to her. (58:22)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

But Barry sees the key Nina used to open the lock was not the right one. He doesn’t report it to the bank, but warns Nina to stop her dangerous game. Bridget and Jackie see Barry adoring Nina and convince her to seduce him. Nina does it and draws Barry in so they won’t have to worry about security anymore.

In a family party while Bridget, Nina and Jackie are celebrating, they see a strange man staring at them. Nobody knows him and he soon leaves. Days pass and Jackie sees that man again in the bank: He is a federal bank examiner!

They know the the authorities have been noticing them and the trouble comes.

The night they destroy the rest of the money: Bridget and Don flush the money down the toilet. Nina burns the money up in her backyard. Jackie and bob blow them up with their bus. And then they try to run away but it’s too late: the police have set the trap and arrest them. Only Bridget gets away. (88:54)


In the police station, Barry, Jackie, Don and Bob confess what they did. But Bridget is still on the run. Bridget comes to the police station with her lawyer and claims they can’t sue them because there is no case against anyone: If the bank admits there is a robbery, they admit they have a big leak in their system and that will cause a scandal and crisis of confidence against them. (91:06) The authorities finally give in. All the people are released after paying the tax for their unexplained properties.

After eight months they have begun their new lives and meet again in a bar where they plan to rob the bank. Bridget shows them what she stored in the basement: it’s money! Plenty of money! Nina and Jackie can’t believe what they see.

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