The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
thevideovacuum

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? (2001) ** ½

I’ve read several of Donald E. Westlake’s Parker novels (written under the pseudonym Richard Stark), but have never given his John Dortmunder series a go. (The Hot Rock, Bank Shot, and Jimmy the Kid are other Dortmunder film adaptations.) This one was made as a starring vehicle for Martin Lawrence and like most of the Parker movies; the main character’s name has been changed. As far as Martin Lawrence comedies go, it’s not nearly as much fun as Blue Streak or Black Knight. However, there are some laughs here, enough to make for a marginal recommendation.

Lawrence plays a thief who tries to rob a rich big shot, played by Danny DeVito, who is going through bankruptcy. DeVito catches him red-handed and calls the cops. To really stick it to him, Danny claims the ring Martin’s wearing belongs to him and the cops force him to hand it over. Because the ring holds sentimental value to Lawrence, he tries to get it back and various complications ensue.

Lawrence has some funny moments here and there. There’s a Chaplin-esque scene where he tries to politely walk around a fat man to no avail before getting pissed and shouting “Deal-A-Meal!” in his face. DeVito is perfectly cast. No one plays an entitled rich scoundrel like him. It’s too bad that the script keeps him away from Lawrence for so long because they play off each other rather well. John Leguizamo gets a few laughs as Lawrence’s partner in crime and it was good to see Larry Miller as DeVito’s bumbling head of discovery.

Whenever the movie focuses on the struggle between Lawrence and DeVito over the ring, it works. However, much of the comedy is way too broad (William Fichtner plays a gay detective with farting dogs) and seems out of whack with the rest of the picture. If the filmmakers found a consistent tone, it could’ve been a fun caper comedy. As it is, it’s a bit messy and uneven, but fans of the two stars should be pleased.

Tags: comedy, w
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