Directed by Sam Weisman, starring Danny DeVito, Martin Lawrence, John Leguizamo, Glenne Headly, William Fichtner, Carmen Ejogo and Bernie Mac.
With a title such as this, the producers have left themselves wide open for a vitriolic onslaught from critics. And it's an onslaught which I will gladly partake in, for along with 'Queen of the Damned' and 'Slackers', this is without doubt one of the worst films of the year. It's so bad, in fact, that it could easily hold its own in the worst of the decade category. Admittedly, we're only in the third year of said decade, but methinks it could just as easily be 2009.
Based on the Donald Westlake novel of the same name, 'What's The Worst That Could Happen?' is adapted for the screen by scriptwriter Matthew Chapman. But whereas Westlake's novels are widely considered to be in the same lofty league as those by his contemporaries Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, those writers can feel a lot better about the film adaptations of their books. Ok, the Demi Moore-vehicle 'Striptease', which was based on a Hiaasen novel, was garbage, but was it any worse than this? No way.
It's pretty apt that 'What's The Worst That Could Happen?' is essentially a tale about thieves, because you'll certainly feel robbed and cheated well before the credits roll here. Martin Lawrence, a poor man's Eddie Murphy, plays Kevin Caffrey - a professional thief whose career choice has yielded a comfortable lifestyle. His apparent financial comfort becomes all the more surprising in subsequent scenes when we witness how utterly inept he is at his chosen 'profession'. But I digress.
When Caffrey is sprung robbing the house of ruthless billionaire Max Fairbanks (DeVito), a routine bust becomes a battle of wills when Fairbanks relieves the robber of a ring given to Caffrey by his adoring girlfriend. In the cruellest of ironies, ho ho, Fairbanks turns the tables on his would-be burglar and tells the cops the ring was among the items snatched by Caffrey. Naturally, the cops believe the rich white boy.
The rest of this stinker concerns itself with Caffrey's crusade to retrieve the ring and Fairbanks' determination to keep it in his possession. The ring motif is actually quite apt for this film - but enough of the scatological humour. The series of set-pieces that follow are so devoid of comic effect you begin to wonder how on earth the producers managed to assemble such a cast. DeVito, Headly, Fichtner and Leguizamo are all fine actors, so something just doesn't add up.
The script is wretched, there is no sense of timing or context, characters pop up and pop off without any apparent motivation, and the whole sorry spectacle is devoid of even the slightest degree of logic. Of course, logic wouldn't even enter the equation if any of it were funny. Be warned though, because there isn't one laugh to be had from this. Not even a giggle.
Although Martin Lawrence's reputation wasn't far off the floor to begin with, Danny DeVito will do well to live this one down. The wee man is nearly always on solid form, but even his impeccable comic timing is non-existent here. I could go on, but there's no point. Suffice is to say that this is the most pathetic attempt at comedy in a long time.
What's the worst that can happen? Well, you can work that one out for yourself.