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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Blu-ray)
What's The Worst That Could Happen? (Blu-ray)
Olive Films // PG-13 // April 19, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Randy Miller III | posted April 26, 2016 | E-mail the Author

A target almost as easy as its name implies, Sam Weisman's What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001) stars Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito as two sides of the same coin: both are thieves, but on completely different sides of the social spectrum. Kevin Caffery (Lawrence) is a smooth-talking burglar with good taste and an eye for counterfeits, while Max Fairbanks (DeVito) is a boorish billionaire who's just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their paths cross one night when Caffery breaks into Fairbanks' luxurious beach house but loses his ring in the process; specifically, it's stolen by Fairbanks after he confronts the would-be burglar, who'd just received it from new girlfriend Amber (Carmen Ejogo). This immediately starts an escalating game of one-upmanship: Fairbanks sees the lucky ring as a sign of financial comeback, while Caffery obviously can't give up the symbol of his promising new relationship.

Though its core story and solid cast---which also includes supporting roles by Bernie Mac, Nora Dunn, John Leguizamo, and a ridiculously over-the-top William Fichtner---hints at potential greatness (or at least a solid, watchable comedy), What's the Worst That Could Happen? squanders most of this potential with a weak screenplay and connect-the-dots direction that can barely keep its head above water. The jokes aren't exactly non-stop but less than half of this material hits the mark; everything else just feels painfully dated (hacking into AOL?), unbelievable (convenient plot twists, Amber's continued interest in Kevin), or just too by-the-book for its own good. As a result, the 96-minute film feels like two hours or more, not so much breezing by as killing time with a handful of needless subplots and supporting characters that clog up what should've been more of a two-man show. Perhaps the film's only saving grace is its refusal to take itself seriously along the way, frequently going one step beyond absurdity instead of making a hard left into deadly-serious territory. This doesn't make it any funnier, but it's worth a bonus point.

In short, What's the Worst That Could Happen? is a meager attempt to pair up two completely opposite performers; it ends up falling on its face most of the time, but a handful of solid belly-laughs and quotable lines may end up salvaging what many consider to be a missed opportunity for almost everyone involved. Originally released on DVD by MGM all the way back in 2001 (roughly six months after its theatrical release), the film has pretty much remained dormant on home video until now. Olive Films' new Blu-ray package, unfortunately, is something of a sidestep from that 15 year-old release, serving up modestly improved A/V specs but less than half of the original bonus features.

Quality Control Department

Video & Audio Quality

Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, What's the Worst That Could Happen? looks a bit dated in 1080p...which isn't surprising, since MGM's 2001 DVD earned average marks and this appears to use similar (or identical) source material. Detail and textures can be strong, mostly during outdoor close-ups. No flagrant noise reduction has been applied, but the grain occasionally looks a little chunky. Colors and black levels appear slightly neutered (again, likely due to the lack of a fresh master), which gives some scenes an unmistakably "flat" appearance that doesn't reach far beyond that of the format's early years. This is a single-layered disc...but since the total content barely exceeds 120 minutes, there's little danger of compression artifacts and similar eyesores. Overall, fans will still appreciate Olive's efforts on loan from MGM; it's obviously a step up from the DVD, but there's room for improvement.

DISCLAIMER: These compressed and resized promotional stills are decorative and do not represent the Blu-ray under review.

On paper, this DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio presentation represents a modest upgrade from the DVD's Dolby 5.1 mix (this is, after all, a comedy), but the added depth and presence of this lossless track occasionally steps beyond typical genre limitations. Dialogue is crisp and clear, with occasional surround activity and strong, well-defined music cues that don't fight for attention. Don't get me wrong: your rear speakers or subwoofer won't get a huge workout, but what we get is more than acceptable for this type of film. Unlike most Olive releases, optional English subtitles have been provided; this appears to be a new standard for the company, which is long overdue and much appreciated.

Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging

Not much out of the ordinary, just a plain-wrap static interface that's clean, functional, and pretty much identical to the cover artwork. Sub-menu options include chapter selection (8 total), subtitle setup, and bonus features. As usual, this one-disc release arrives in a standard keepcase and includes a promotional insert for other Olive titles.

Bonus Features

Less than half of the 2001 DVD's extras have been carried over, including a surface-level Behind the Scenes Featurette (25 minutes), an Eric Sermon Music Video (4 minutes), and the film's Theatrical Trailer (3 minutes). Missing in action are two audio commentaries, outtakes, and deleted scenes, so this Blu-ray is technically a half-step backwards.

Final Thoughts

Though not without a handful of inspired gags and moments along the way (and a decent enough premise, of course), What's the Worst That Could Happen? flounders quite a bit during its short lifespan, with scenes held together by weak threads and plenty of dated pop culture references. Though surprisingly tone-deaf at times, I nonetheless appreciated that the film wasn't shy about wearing a smirk on its face the entire time; in other words, things never get serious because they don't need to. But if you only laugh at 25% of the jokes, 95 minutes can feel a lot longer...and it does, which only makes Olive Films' Blu-ray a recommended purchase for established fans of this 15 year-old film. The A/V presentation is obviously better than MGM's ancient 2001 DVD...but this isn't a flashy film and half of the DVD's extras are missing, making the older disc a more practical option for curious newcomers. Rent It.

Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey by day and film reviewer by night. He also does freelance design work, teaches art classes and runs a website or two. In his limited free time, Randy also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD DVDs, and writing in third person.
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