what's the worst that could happen?(2001)
director: sam weisman
martin lawrence, danny devito

 
. Some films are like corrupt countries, so poor and feebly run that anyone can take them over. Martin Lawrence’s new comedy -- immemorably titled What’s the Worst that Could Happen? -- is just such a banana republic, a negligent mishmash of heist caper and revenge stories about a thief -- played by Lawrence -- that gets stolen by one, confident performance by a supporting player.

William Fichtner is a lean, sharp-faced character actor who has brought up the rear in films like The Perfect Storm, Pearl Harbor and Armageddon, playing thugs, military creeps and psycho cops. From the moment he enters the film, playing a police detective channelled through a flamboyant, Quentin Crisp-style queen, he steals the film from Lawrence’s unconvincing cat burglar. 

It might not have happened if Lawrence gave any sign of caring about his performance, a classic sleepwalk by an actor whose schtick is in place and whose ability to open big, regardless of quality, was established with Big Momma’s House. Danny De Vito, as an arrogant tycoon who becomes Lawrence’s nemesis, tries a bit harder, but the film defeats him at every turn, through negligent plotting and a dismal cop-out of an ending that squanders whatever logic the previous hour and a half had haphazardly developed.

Lawrence’s “crazed homeboy” routine is no match for Fichtner’s outrageous turn, and might even have been buried by the rest of the cast -- including Glenne Headly and Nora Dunne -- if they’d only risen, like Fichtner, to the challenge of making up an entirely different film for themselves to inhabit.


 
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