WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

PG-13
Reviews

The question posed by the title What's the Worst That Could Happen? is actually never used in the course of this rambling, contrived, not very funny film, but may linger in many a viewer's mind. Its best two sight gags are the diminutive Max Fairbanks (Danny De Vito) standing next to his tall wife Lutetia (Nora Dunn) and, later, Kevin Caffery (Martin Lawrence) in a garguantuan Afro. But most of the film's audience will have already noted that Danny De Vito is short and Martin Lawrence is happy to wear outlandish attire. There is nothing new or surprising at any point in Matthew Chapman's hackneyed screenplay or Sam Weisman's turgid direction.

The tedious plot involves burglar Caffery trying to get back a ring that billionaire Fairbanks has stolen from him during a robbery, in which Caffery finds the tables turned. The ring is a gift from his girlfriend, Amber (Carmen Ejogo), whom he loves because she is the first bed companion whose conversation he finds absorbing. Not that he listens to her. Caffrey spends most of the film pursuing the ring; oddly enough, in several attempts, he is able to steal everything but the ring. This does not, of course, satisfy him. Even though Amber assures him that she loves him with or without the worthless bauble, getting the ring back becomes an obsession for Caffery. This quest becomes pointless long before the film has run down to its witless and improbable resolution.

What's the Worst That Could Happen? is an object lesson in overacting. A bevy of character actors including one stand up comedian (Larry Miller) and several veterans of "Saturday Night Live" (Nora Dunn, Ana Gasteyer, Siobhan Fallon) clown around to pep up the proceedings and only succeed in draining the film of its last shreds of credibility. Take William Fichtner's gay Detective Tardio, for instance. He would have been a welcome addition to The Birdcage, but seems totally incongruous here. Martin Lawrence looks trapped throughout the proceedings, but as he is one of the film's executive producers, he has no one to blame but himself.

--Bruce Feld