Nothing to Lose

Austin Chronicle

DIRECTED BY: Steve Oedekerk

REVIEWED: 07-21-97

Martin Lawrence, Tim Robbins, John C. McGinley, Giancarlo Esposito, Kelly Preston, Michael McKean, Irma P. Hall. (R, 97 min.)

There's something about the pairing of psychotic Fox comedian Lawrence with revered actors' gang alumnus and all-around swell guy Robbins that's so oddball it's almost sure-fire. At least, I suspect that's what writer-director Oedekerk and the producers felt going in to this project. And they're half right: The pairing of the short, black, violently effusive comic and the impossibly tall, good-natured white guy seems, at first thought, to be a smashingly good idea, or one that, at least, will break even. For some reason, though, things never quite jell between the two mismatched leads. The spark which pops up every so often never quite flares into a comic flame, and what we're left with is the inescapable need for more. More what is anyone's guess, but more something, for the love of God. Robbins plays Nick Beam, a well-to-do advertising executive whose world collapses one afternoon when he returns home early to surprise his wife (Preston) only to spy her in bed with his boss (McKean). Devastated, he hops back in his car (actually he sort of slouches, like a man overcome by gravity) and drives aimlessly through Los Angeles, eventually, blindly driving into South Central, where he is almost immediately car-jacked by novice thief T. Paul (Lawrence). Instead of giving up his car and wallet to T., Nick instead turns the tables on his attacker and kidnaps him, driving hell-bent for leather clear to Arizona before stopping for a bite to eat. It should go without saying that the two opposites attract, and, eventually, become friends under the United Front of Felonious Assault. Together they conspire to salvage Nick's bruised machismo by plundering his boss' office safe, and, well, you get the idea. The jokes - especially those from Robbins' slack-jawed physical comedy - are fast and sleek, and they work well enough up to a point, but Oedekerk, for some reason, feels the necessity to gob up the whole shebang with frequent doses of unbridled tenderness. T. Paul, it seems, has a loving wife and kids, who depend on him to bring home the proverbial bacon. He's not bad, he's just drawn that way, and the artist in question is Oedekerk. Nothing in the world can deflate a deft, fast-moving comedy like excessive preachiness; Capra could make it work, but few others, and Oedekerk, a former writer for In Living Color, is no Capra. Not by a long shot. 2.0 stars

--Marc Savlov

Full Length Reviews
Nothing to Lose
Nothing to Lose
Nothing to Lose
Nothing to Lose

Capsule Reviews
Nothing to Lose
Nothing to Lose

Other Films by Steve Oedekerk
Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

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