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Case Number 01610

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What's The Worst That Could Happen?

MGM // 2001 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 21st, 2001

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All Rise...

The Charge

It takes a thief to nail a crook.

Opening Statement

Of all the movies that came out last summer, I think I can safely say that What's The Worst That Could Happen? was at the very bottom of my list of movies to see. In fact, it wasn't just at the bottom, it was underneath the bottom. Seeing as the film floundered at the box office, I'm guessing that I wasn't alone in this sentiment. I don't know about you, but I wasn't in a big hurry to see Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence paired together in any type of comedy, be it on screen, stage, street theater, or at a holiday party in my living room. However, I'm sure there are many Martin Lawrence fans out there, and as such MGM has put together a "special edition" of this caper comedy on DVD.

Facts of the Case

Kevin Caffery (Lawrence) is one of the best thieves around. [Editor's Note: Wait a second…didn't I see this when it was called Blue Streak?] He snoops out auction houses to see what's worth stealing. After he meets the beautiful Amber (Carmen Ejogo), during one of his gigs, Kevin becomes hooked on the fishing line of love. Amber gives Kevin a ring that symbolizes their relationship, and he promises to keep it safe. However, that promise is put in jeopardy when Kevin attempts to rob the ruthless and obnoxious billionaire Max Fairbanks (DeVito). After being caught red-handed, Kevin is hauled off by the police—but not before Max "steals" Kevin's ring. Enraged at Max's deceptive ways (who thinks the ring is lucky), Kevin swears to get back his ring with the help of his friends (including John Leguizomo and Bernie Mac), even if it means playing dirty! Now Max and Kevin are up against each other with the ring as the grand prize!

The Evidence

I'll dispense with any obvious title jokes {i.e., What's The Worst That Could Happen? This movie!). Plain and simple: What's The Worst That Could Happen? is not a funny movie. Oh sure, it tries very hard. Or should I say that Martin Lawrence tries very hard. He contorts his face, he wiggles around doing strange dances, he even puts on a turban and talks like a wacky Iranian. Yes, Martin tries his hardest to make this movie funny, but comes up a dollar short and a day late.

So what went wrong? It could be the pairing of DeVito and Lawrence. These are two actors whose comedic styles are vastly different. DeVito is taut and cackling while Lawrence is always going for the BIG gag, and if that doesn't work, it seems his theory is "be LOUDER and someone will eventually laugh." I'm not a huge fan of Lawrence to begin with, though he can be enjoyable when his "shtick" is toned down in movies like Nothing To Lose and the underrated Life with Eddie Murphy.

The plot in What's The Worst That Could Happen? seems to have been an afterthought; though it's based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake, it feels as if it was a ten page script that was expanded to hold Martin's filler antics. The whole thing boils down to Lawrence's and DeVito's characters attempting to hold onto a precious ring because it means something to each of them. Har-har-har. I've seen looser plots, but not many. If that weren't boring enough, there aren't any fun plot twists of interesting double-crosses in any of the ensuing scenes. Lawrence just seems to bumble from location to location trying to get his ring back while DeVito plays the typical sleazeball we've all come to know and love.

The supporting cast ends up being much too large for a film of this size. The comedic talents of Larry Miller (Pretty Woman), Bernie Mac (Ocean's 11) and Nora Dunn (Three Kings) are sorely wasted and lost in the bevy of people wandering around this movie. The only person who comes off with a few laughs is non-comedian character actor William Fichtner as detective Alex Tardio. I have to take a moment and applaud Mr. Fichtner for his part in this movie. This is the same guy who has played vastly different characters in such diverse films as The Perfect Storm, Armageddon and Passion Of Mind. Fichtner's humorous portrayal of detective Tardio (a combination of Dame Edna, Christopher Lowell, and Bugs Bunny in drag) is the only highlight in this otherwise abysmal comedy.

What's The Worst That Could Happen? is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. MGM has done a very respectable job on this transfer, making sure that the colors look vibrant and full while the black levels are dark and solid. There was only the slightest amount of edge enhancement spotted in a few scenes, but it shouldn't hinder one's enjoyment (can you call it that?) of the film. There is also a pan and scan version available on this disc, but who the heck cares?

Audio is presented in a very unimpressive Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. While the dialogue, effects, and music are all clear and free of distortion, nary a surround sound seems to be offered for the rear speakers. From what I could discern almost all of the effects came from the front and center speakers. Even Tyler Bates and Marc Shaiman's music scores weren't utilized in surround sound. However, on the other side of this coin is the fact that there aren't many instances where surround is needed, seeing as this is a dialogue driven comedy. Also included on this disc is a Dolby 2.0 soundtrack in French and Spanish, as well as French, English, and Spanish subtitles.

For a movie with all the consistency of ca-ca, I am surprised that MGM has put together a "special edition" of What's The Worst That Could Happen?. To start off the disc there are two commentary tracks, one by director Sam Weisman (George Of The Jungle, The Out-Of-Towners remake) and producer David Hoberman, the second by various members of the cast including William Fichtner, Bernie Mac, Danny DeVito, Carmen Ejogo, Nora Dunn, Sascha Knopf, Siobhan Fallon, GQ and Glenne Headly. The first commentary by the producer and the director is jam packed with information about the making of the movie while the second track features A TON of dead space. Hoberman and Weisman seem to really enjoy the film (I'm glad at least two people did) and talk thoroughly about adapting the book to the screen, and working with Lawrence and DeVito. The cast commentary is stale and seems to have been recorded during interviews.

Next up is a collection of nine deleted scenes, which—not surprisingly—deserved to be cut. Also included in the group is an alternate ending. A set of outtakes are available that were actually somewhat entertaining. For you behind-the-scenes fans there's a 25-minute promotional feature titled "Scene Stealers" which includes your basic interviews, behind the scenes tidbits and obligatory clips from the film.

Finally there is a music video for the song "Music" by Erick Sermon featuring Marvin Gaye (uh, isn't he dead?), plus an original theatrical trailer presented in anamorphic widescreen.

Closing Statement

Like a swift kick to the gonads, What's The Worst That Could Happen? painfully lives up to its name. It seems as if this train wreck veered off course early on, yet the makers were helpless to stop it. MGM has done a decent job on this disc, so there is some consolation…not much, but some.

The Verdict

What's The Worst That Could Happen? is guilty of being just flat out unfunny.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 97
Audio: 79
Extras: 82
Acting: 75
Story: 58
Judgment: 63

Perp Profile

Studio: MGM
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary Track by William Fichtner, Bernie Mac, Danny DeVito, Carmen Ejogo, Nora Dunn, Sascha Knopf, Siobhan Fallon, GQ, and Glenne Headly
• Commentary Track by Director Sam Weisman and Producer David Hoberman
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes
• Outtakes
• Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
• Music Video "Music" by Erick Sermon Featuring Marvin Gaye
• Original Theatrical Trailer


• IMDb
• Official Site

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Review content copyright © 2001 Patrick Naugle; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.