What's the Worst That Could Happen? Movie Review

Martin Lawrence is not funny. For the proof just turn to his newest film, What's The Worst That Could Happen? -- the answer to its own question if ever there has been one.

I don't know how Martin Lawrence -- the former 1987 Star Search winner with an arrest record that would make Tommy Lee envious -- has been able to survive with all of the bad, bad films he has starred in during the past 6 years. [Two words: Bad Boys. -Ed.] Big Momma's House, Blue Streak, Life, and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate are all forgettable movies which can be found in quantity on the clearance table at your local video store. But survive he has, and in Worst, Lawrence is a mediocre Eddie Murphy stuck playing another jewel thief in another run-of-the-mill studio comedy.

Worst revolves around a ridiculous cat-and-mouse game between a thief named Kevin Caffery (Lawrence) who gets caught burglarizing media conglomerate CEO Max Fairbanks (Danny DeVito), who in turn steals Kevin's lucky ring given to him by his girlfriend. Kevin then vows to get the ring back at any cost -- thus setting up numerous comedic situations to follow that play out like a homogenized sitcom. The cast is rounded out with an annoying Latino sidekick (John Leguizamo), a one-dimensional girlfriend (Carmen Ejogo) who spends half the movie whining about Kevin's numerous exploits in retrieving the ring, a super-fly white guy hacker who uses more Apple products than Jeff Goldblum to hack into Max's e-mail and surveillance system, and Kevin's sharp-tongued mentor (Bernie Mac) -- who deserves much better roles than bit parts in Martin Lawrence comedies.

The comedy plays out like a Henny Youngman joke. Kevin and his cronies break into Max's Miami penthouse dressed up like Arabic princes and steal PAC contributions intended for shady Senate sub-committee members. Kevin calls Max on his cell phone -- he answers it during a Senate sub-committee hearing! -- and Max then curses at Kevin via the television cameras as the sign-language interpreter makes enough obscene gestures to would make the Diceman blush. Whoa ho!

Sam Weisman's (George of the Jungle) direction is lopsided and uninteresting, and the film's pacing is worse than Betty White running the Boston Marathon. The jokes are cheap, predictable, and come solely at the expense of others. Every race and lifestyle -- gay, black, German, Arabic, and white, to name but a few -- are used as easy targets. Danny DeVito walks through his role as Max Fairbanks as a mini-Gordon Gekko crossed with his Louie De Palma character from Taxi. The biggest insult comes in the guise of underrated actor William Fichtner -- playing a sexually ambiguous detective dressed up like a 1970's Bowie doll who is trying to nail (ahem) Max for all of his shady business deals.

So What's the Worse That Could Happen? ... besides the release of this film? Sadly, Blue Streak 2 is in pre-production, for which Lawrence will receive a $20 million dollar paycheck. Now, that's bad.

The two commentary tracks on the DVD are roughly two too many, and the deleted scenes are inexplicable shorties, presumably too raunchy for this PG-13er. The sole exception is the alternate ending provided, which you might find amusing -- presuming you actually stuck around to watch the original one.

That's bad, too.

Comments

What's the Worst That Could Happen? Rating

" Terrible "

Rating: PG-13, 2001

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