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Release: 2001, MGM
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Danny DeVito, John Leguizamo
Director: Sam Weisman
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language
Genre: Comedy

It takes a thief to nail a crook...

When a billionaire (DeVito) foils a thief (Lawrence) attempting to rob him, he turns the tables and steals the thief's ring. But the event touches off a battle of wills between two stubborn men who both refuse to give up the token possession.

What's Good
the idea behind the movie is humorous

What's Bad
the movie in front of the idea is completely unfunny

Reviewer: Andrew Manning (06/01)

Martin Lawrence is Kevin Caffrey, a professional thief trying to make a living. Danny DeVito is Max Fairbanks, a rich businessman on the verge of financial ruin. When Kevin is busted while trying to rob Fairbanks, Fairbanks turns the tables on the would-be thief by stealing his prized ring. In an ironic twist, the millionaire who has it all has just robbed a thief for sheer sport. But Kevin and Fairbanks are both stubborn, and neither will let the matter drop. What ensues is a vengeful battle of wills, with each man determined to get the ring from the other at any cost.

This is the premise for What's The Worst That Could Happen?, a relentlessly unfunny film that is surprisingly short on the laughs. On paper, the notion of a crook getting ripped off during his own incompetent heist seems funny enough, and Lawrence and DeVito are both great comedic actors. Add John Leguizamo and Bernie Mac to the mix, and you would think you'd get more than the two or three laughs this stiff piece of cinema inspires. But something went tragically wrong in the execution, and the result is a dry, humorless movie full of nasty characters that no one could love--or even love to hate.

There's also an obnoxious anti-testosterone doctrine throughout the movie. Kevin and Max are constantly depicted as squabbling, overgrown children, and it's ultimately up to their women (ball-busting harpies though they may be) to save them. This "I'm only a stupid man, so I don't know any better" mentality is so prevalent that you could almost file this movie with The First Wives Club under "Womyn with a Y." Carmen Ejogo and Saturday Night Live's Ana Gasteyer and Nora Dunn are all out to castrate their men for their own good.

In its defense, What's The Worst That Could Happen? has a few modestly entertaining scenes. Lawrence as a rich foreign investor with Leguizamo as his translator finds Martin Lawrence doing what he does best--playing caricatures. And the two of them getting trapped by motion detectors on a flight of stairs offers a moment of lowbrow slapstick. But none of this makes up for the rest of the boring yawn-fest that feels long and drawn out even at a scant 97 minutes.

Audiences looking for a funny Martin Lawrence movie would do better with Big Momma's House or Blue Streak; and those looking for Danny DeVito's brighter comic moments should instead check out just about any other comedy he's done. Having already gone down in the books as a financial blunder for MGM, What's The Worst That Could Happen? is an entertainment disaster as well, proving that films billed as comedies don't always make you laugh.

Rating: 3 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)

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