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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » What's The Worst That Could Happen?
What's The Worst That Could Happen?
MGM // PG-13 // January 2, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 17, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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"What's The Worst That Could Happen?" was one of those films I've seen in the theater where I certainly didn't like the film, but I didn't hate it either. This is one of those films where there is a good basic plot and actors with the potential to make something of it, but this one in particular falls short in the directing department and at the screenplay stage.

Martin Lawrence stars as thief Kevin Caffery, who meets up with a lovely lady named Amber Belhaven (Carmen Ejogo) and the two become closer - she even gives him her father's lucky ring. He admits to her that he's a thief and she seems none too upset, oddly. Things don't go quite as planned when Kevin and partner Berger (John Leguizamo) plan to rob billionaire Max Fairbanks'(Danny Devito) house - and he's not supposed to be in it after getting into the middle of a bankruptcy filing. Of course, he's there and Kevin's caught. The homeowner turns the tables though, by snatching the thief's ring as the police are taking him away.

Amber's not exactly too unhappy, but Kevin is already planning his revenge. He also just escaped from police custody, but doesn't seem to concerned about it, either. It's just that kind of movie, I guess. Anyways, Kevin goes about getting his ring back, taking extreme measures to find where Fairbanks is and confronting him - failing almost every time out (but still managing to steal more things from him just to make him angry). The one funny scene in the movie is still a rather unbelievable one - Kevin gets on Max's nerves during a senate hearing to the point where Max unleashes a spray of four-letter words, which are translated for television audiences by a sign language interpreter. It's a decent laugh, but not a particularly realistic scene, either. While the screenplay isn't a total loss, there aren't a great deal of laughs and what humor is successful seems cheap.

"What's the Worst that Could Happen?" could have easily had the potential to take the battle between the Lawrence and Devito characters to the full mean-spirited level of Devito's "War of the Roses", but instead, their occasional light bickering never really escalates or gains much interest. Lawrence either seems as if he's on autopilot for the role or has been kept in check from really going over-the-top with the character. Lawrence seems to be at his best when he's allowed to improv material, such as on 1995's "Bad Boys". Devito isn't bad either, but he's certainly been better and had better roles. Generally wasted in supporting roles are Glenne Headly, Larry Miller, William Fichtner and others. Only Bernie Mac, who was also excellent in the recent "Ocean's Eleven", is able to make a strong impression in his small role.

It's really too bad, because again, there is the potential of a good movie from the story and there's also a fine cast here. Director Sam Weisman hasn't shown himself to be a particularly effective director of comedy before, though ("Out of Towners") and he seems satisfied to let this film creak along, as well.


VIDEO: MGM has again tried to put a pan & scan and anamorphic widescreen version on one dual-layer side, while the supplements are on the single-layer flip-side (see also the recent "Legally Blonde"). The results are, as with "Blonde", generally good, but not remarkable. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen edition offers cinematographer Anastas N. Michos ("Man On The Moon")'s enjoyable photography (with nicely captured Boston locations) well, as the image appeared consistently crisp, with only a few minor instances of softness here and there. The movie appeared flat looking; there's not much depth to the image.

Flaws are not particularly distracting, but there's enough small ones that viewer may begin to notice. The print, suprisingly, is not entirely clean. A few minor specks and a mark or two were noticed, but no grain or other blemishes appeared. A couple of instances of light edge enhancement and a minor trace or two of pixelation were also spotted.

Colors looked quite nice, appearing natural and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other flaws. Overall, this is a respectable presentation, crisp and only burdened by a few minor flaws here and there.

SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is, without a doubt, a prime example of "comedy audio". The jokes are the complete and utter focus throughout this track, as the score sort of pops in for a moment, then leaves without making much of an impression. The surrounds hardly come on, even for light ambience - it's another film where apparently there is no other noise outside in the city besides the chatter of the characters. Audio quality was fine, but not exceptional in any way; the music has a slightly bassy presence and sounds clear, but is hardly reinforced by the surrounds. Dialogue comes through sounding crisp and natural, as do the film's few sound effects.

MENUS:: The main menu on the movie side has some moderate animation, but otherwise, menus on the rest of the disc plainly offer film-themed images.


Commentaries: Before I begin, let me say that I do like (and occasionally love) commentary tracks. There are a lot of movies (both good and bad) where it's interesting to learn more or simply try and hear what the people who made it were actually trying for. But, it's getting to the point where nearly everything seems to have a commentary (or two, or three) - even movies that really aren't that much to begin with. The two tracks here - one with director Sam Weisman and one with actors Danny Devito, William Fichter, Bernie Mac, Carmen Ejogo, Nora Dunn, Sascha Knopf, Sioban Fallon, GQ and Glenne Headly are both uninteresting.

The actor's track certainly sounded promising and the fact that there's so many people seems to insure that there's actually a full track of comments. Unfortunately, not only are there large gaps between comments, the majority of the discussion seemed to be the participants coming in for a moment to introduce themselves and talk about who their character is or exactly what's going on in that particular scene - it's very tough to sit through. The director/producer track isn't much better, simply offering small talk about the production or "happy talk" about how great everyone was to work with. Listening to both tracks, I get the feeling that there simply isn't that much to discuss about this picture and certainly not enough to fill up one commentary, let alone two.

Personally, I would have liked to have heard novelist Donald Westlake's comments about how he thought his novel was adapted, given that he has reportedly not been happy with the adaptations of any of his works. I wonder what he thought of this one.

Deleted Scenes: Flipping over the disc, the first section included in the supplements is the deleted scenes - 8 + 1 alternate ending are included. Unfortunately, you won't find any discarded gems here, as they're either obviously unnecessary or, in the case of one or two of them, just plain strange. No additional commentary is provided.

Outtakes: Three minutes worth of goofs and crack-ups are included, many of which are hilarious.

Scene Stealers: This documentary is more of not much. The majority of the nearly 24 minute running time is devoted to chatting about the film's story or interviews that discuss how much that participant enjoyed the screenplay or working with other members of the cast and crew. There are a few behind-the-scenes clips thrown in, but nearly 25 minutes later, I hadn't learned much.

Also: Music video - "Music", by Erick Sermon featuring Marvin Gaye and the film's theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts: While the title might be thought to be discussing itself, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" isn't necessarily the year's worst, in my opinion - it's simply a below-average comedy that doesn't seem interested in anything but the bare minimum. Lawrence has shown great comic timing and terrific improv skills in the past. He simply needs stronger, edgier material to work with.

MGM's DVD edition of "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" offers the film with fine audio/video quality. There's a great deal of supplements as well, but none of them seem to have much to say. Fans of the actors might want to take a look as a rental, but go in with very low expectations. Otherwise, skip it. Release Date: 1/2/02.

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