"A Funny Comedy with an Abhorrent Worldview"
What You Need To Know:
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? is a frenetic display of classic comedy structure, where a basic comic situation builds to a crescendo of chaos and laughs. The ending ultimately fails to completely deliver by becoming a bit repetitious and obvious, but it’s not for lack of trying. Nor is it because of a lack of talent among the cast and crew, all of whom put on a pretty good show for the most part. The ultimate failure of the movie, however, is not its execution, but its worldview, which condones lying, cheating and stealing because everyone “plays the game.” The movie also contains solid occult elements, plenty of PG-13 foul language, implied sexual immorality, and some pro-homosexual comedy, most of which is also condoned, though in a comical fashion
(PaPaPa, OO, Ho, PC, AP, LLL, V, S, N, A, D, MM) Strong pagan worldview ultimately condoning cheating, lying & stealing because “everybody plays the game,” plus major character uses occult practices such as Tarot cards & I-Ching which apparently do give him true advice & some pro-sodomy political correctness with a slight anti-American tinge, including mocking all people in Congress as if everyone there is on the take; at least 67 obscenities, 11 mostly strong profanities & some very strong obscenities bleeped out for comic effect, plus a few crude sexual remarks & flatulence jokes; mostly comic violence including punches & gunshots; implied fornication, implied adultery & homosexual references used mostly for comic effect; brief but obscured nudity, mostly implied; alcohol use; smoking; and, burglary, cheating, stealing, lying, immature behavior, & revenge.
WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? is a frenetic display of classic comedy structure, where a basic comic situation builds to a crescendo of chaos and laughs. The ending ultimately fails to completely deliver by becoming a bit repetitious and obvious, but it’s not for lack of trying. Nor is it because of a lack of talent among the cast and crew, all of whom put on a pretty good show for the most part. The ultimate failure of the movie, however, is not its execution, but its worldview, which condones lying, cheating and stealing because everyone “plays the game.” The movie also contains some other problem areas, including occult elements wherein a major character uses occult practices such as Tarot cards and I-Ching readings that seem to work for him.
Based on a series of comic novels by master storyteller Donald E. Westlake, a.k.a. Richard Stark, about a thief named Dortmunder, the movie changes the name of the protagonist to Kevin Caffrey. Comic actor Martin Lawrence (BIG MOMMA) stars as Kevin in a role that fits him like a glove. Kevin is a professional thief with a taste for the finer things in life. He begins a romantic relationship with a beautiful anthropology student, who gives him a ring that her father gave her.
Kevin decides to rob a ruthless billionaire named Max Fairbanks, played by Danny DeVito. He targets Max’s supposedly unoccupied beachfront mansion for an easy nighttime heist, but interrupts the married Max in a tryst with Miss September. Max calls the cops while holding a gun on Kevin. When the police arrive, Max lies, telling them that the ring which Kevin’s girlfriend gave him is really Max’s. Kevin is able to escape on the way to the pokey, however. He vows to get the ring back at all costs. The battle of wills between him and Max escalates into full-out war as a colorful cast of characters takes sides.
Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito play their roles with gusto. It is very entertaining to watch their characters lock horns. Supporting their efforts is an excellent cast, including comics John Leguizamo and Bernie Mack, who play Kevin’s friend Berger and Kevin’s rascally Uncle Jack, respectively. Also helping is Glenne Headly as Max’s Tarot-reading assistant and Nora Dunn as Max’s exasperated but resourceful wife.
Director Sam Weisman (GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE) makes the most of Westlake’s novel and Matthew Chapman’s script. His production runs out of steam a little at the end, however. The ending is just not as all-out funny as some of the movie’s earlier parts were. There’s also a point where the movie tries to hide a particular story twist from the audience, but it’s perfectly clear what’s happening, so the revelation of this twist will probably come as little surprise to viewers who have even a little bit of discernment.
The bigger problem, as noted earlier, is the movie’s pagan worldview. Although the movie validates the opinion of Max’s wife and Kevin’s girlfriend, who tell their men to “grow up,” it also condones lying, cheating, stealing, occultism, and the usual modern-day sexual immorality, though in a comical fashion. In that respect, WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? is not as abhorrent as other movies, but it’s abhorrent enough, especially when all these things are considered together.