Nothing to Lose Movie Review

Movie Review by Anthony Leong © Copyright 1997

You sure picked the wrong guy on the wrong day.

Steve Oedekerk's second directorial effort (he was responsible for the narrative nuances of "Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls") plays like a series of comic sketches strung together to provide a flimsy backbone to the comic throughline of a suicidal man being carjacked.

Nick Beam (Tim Robbins-- what's he doing in a movie like this?) is a high-power advertising executive who comes home to find what looks like to be his wife (Kelly Preston) in bed with another man. Seeing a pair of monogrammed cufflinks on the kitchen counter, Nick realizes that his boss (Michael McKean) and his wife are having an affair. Devastated by the revelation, Nick drives around Los Angeles aimlessly, ending up in the poorer section of town. Lost in a haze of bewilderment, he is an easy mark for Terrence (Martin Lawrence), who holds him up at an intersection. Nick, who doesn't give a damn anymore, floors it, turning the tables on his would be robber and instead taking him hostage on a road trip to Arizona. Out in the desert, it is apparent that Terrence is not as street-smart as pretends to be and is not very good at being a criminal.

What follows is the reluctant pairing of these two opposites, their eventual buddy-movie-style bonding, some car chases, some gunplay, and a scheme that will allow Nick to get back at his boss and allow Terrence and his family to move out of the crime-infested inner city.

In between the forced attempts at social commentary and contrasting views on race relations in America, there are some genuinely funny moments that manage to salvage this movie from the trash heap. During a hardware store hold-up, Nick asks the store clerk (Patrick Cranshaw) to comment if his or Terrence's approach was scarier. Nick jigs to "The Scatman" while trying to brush a spider off his back-- and then his shoes catch fire. A night security guard (Steve Oedekerk, the director himself) at Nick's office, thinking that no one is around, turns on a radio and begins practicing dance moves. And Terrence's mother (Irma P. Hall) is a hoot in the very few scenes she has.

Okay, so maybe Nick doesn't try hard enough to kill himself when he first meets Terrence, conveniently missing every opportunity to off himself (thereby preventing NTL from being a twenty minute movie)... and the dramatic reversal at the end of the second act is predictable if you paid close attention in the first ten minutes... and the resolution is just a little bit too convenient... but if the criteria for judging "Nothing to Lose" is purely based on chuckles, then it does fit the bill. It's not a great movie, but you will have fun in the theater.

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