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What's the Worst That Could Happen?

MGM // R // May 30, 2001
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 16, 2001 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

I could go the easy route with "What's The Worst That Could Happen?" and simply say things like "everything else is sold out" or "you find yourself in the theater", but that would be too simple and not entirely correct. An easier way to discuss the subject is that the worst that could happen is wasting this much talent on such a mediocre screenplay. Even Martin Lawrence, who I consider a highly talented comedian, simply seems on autopilot. During his best performances, such as "Bad Boys" or "Blue Streak", you could always see the wheels in motion as the actor's comedic timing was coming up with something you just might not have expected.

In "What's The Worst" though, he's obviously going with the flow of the screenplay and although Lawrence on autopilot is still amusing, it's certainly not hilarious. The comic 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 one of about four total in the film.

If the lead performers are just wasted, the supporting cast is given little or nothing to do. Performers like Larry Miller ("Nutty Professor 2"), Richard Schiff, Ejogo, William Fichtner and even Leguizamo have little that's memorable about their performances. Only comedian Bernie Mac as an associate of Kevin's puts any real energy into making his few scenes lively. There's not much to "What's The Worst That Could Happen?", but it feels like there were some jokes which didn't work either because A.) director Sam Weisman really doesn't know how to efficently handle comedy, as shown by his last film "The Out Of Towners", B.) the score (suprisingly credited to Marc Shaiman and Tyler Bates) underlines the jokes if we didn't already get them) or C.) the screenplay by Matthew Chapman took Donald Westlake's novel and made it into something far less entertaining.

Keep in mind that there is also a D.) all of the above.

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