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WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Martin Lawrence, Danny DeVito, John Leguizamo, Carmen Ejogo, Bernie Mac
Director: Sam Weisman
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Standard 1.33:1
Studio: MGM/UA
Features: See Review
Length: 98 Minutes
Release Date: January 2, 2002

“Fairbanks is gonna be at his beach house the day after tomorrow.”

“Let it go, Kevin.”

“Seven million dollars in art, jewelry and antiques.”

“Uh…I’m driving, hand me my keys.”

Film ***1/2

In addition to having a glorious cast of comedic geniuses, What’s the Worst That Could Happen also has the added bonus of a sharp and witty script about a battle of wits between a petty thief and a greedy crook, one of which has robbed the other in broad daylight. Slapstick comedies are hard enough to pull off successfully these days, and this movie has the privilege of containing both funny moments of slapstick, while at the same time providing enough plot and characters to fill two movies. That’s something you just don’t see in this genre these days. Even if that wasn’t the case, any movie that pits the energetic Martin Lawrence against comedy vet Danny DeVito is a must see for that reason alone.

Lawrence plays Kevin Caffery, a clever professional thief who operates in pure style. He frequents at auctions to see what priceless art pieces are worth jacking. At an art auction, he meets a beauty named Amber (Carmen Ejogo), who there selling an art piece dear to her because she has a hotel bill to pay. The piece does sell nicely, and after one date, Kevin shows up at her door with the actual painting. He soon then confesses to her how he got the piece, and furthermore what his occupation is. She questions it, but is nonetheless comfortable with that notion, and soon gives Kevin a special ring as a token of their love.

Kevin’s partner, Berger (John Leguizamo), comes to him with a new foolproof score that will induce a huge payday. The area of action is that of a beach house estate owned by billionare businessman Max Fairbanks (Danny DeVito), which is scheduled to be vacant for the weekend. Cut to the night of the robbery, and Max reveals himself to be at the house, catching Kevin in action, and then commits a little thievery of his own. Right in front of the cops, Max steals Kevin’s lucky ring right off his finger in front of the cops, claiming that it was stolen from him, but knowing very well that he just robbed the thief.

From that point on, What’s the Worst That Could Happen elevates into a hysterically witty and incredibly laugh-out-loud battle of brains between the street smart Kevin and the heartless Max. Kevin does everything imaginable to retrieve his possession back from Max, including crashing a party, invading his office, rigging an auction of Max’s and, in the film’s standout moment, publicly embarrassing him before a senate committee on live TV, which includes the only time you’ll see a sign language interpreter translating four letter words.

The worst that could happen would be for you to miss out on this riotous comedy. What’s the Worst That Could Happen is one of the funniest times at the movies I’ve had all year. Not only do Lawrence and DeVito shine, but the supporting cast does a splendid job, too, most notably John Leguizamo as Kevin’s bumbling partner in crime, and stand-up comic Bernie Mac, who can currently be seen in the brilliant remake of Ocean’s Eleven, comes close to stealing the movie as Kevin’s fiery uncle. This is a big ticket for guaranteed laughter.

Video ***1/2

MGM prevails in another addition to a list of recent glorious transfers. The picture quality on What’s the Worst That Could Happen is thoroughly sharp and clear, and a hundred percent vibrant with the colorization. About 90% of the movie takes place outdoors or in clear indoor settings, both of which turn up completely nicely. The only flaw in the presentation is only a couple of scenes early in the movie, which look soft and a bit compressed. But this is only a brief flaw, as the remaining presentation is that of a flawless looking one.

Audio ***

A perfect audio tone for that of a simple sounding comedy. MGM offers a genuinely impressive sounding 5.1 transfer, which really kicks in the scenes of physical comedy. Music in the movie, featuring that of urban and R&B songs, is frequent and picks up tremendously well. Not a superior sounding disc, but an impressive one given the kind of movie it is.

Features ****

MGM has really made a leap this year to the top of the DVD form in terms of extras with their Special Edition series, and the extras included on What’s the Worst That Could Happen is a grand example. Included are two commentaries; one with director Sam Weisman, and another with cast members Danny DeVito, John Leguizamo, Bernie Mac, Carmen Ejogo, William Fichtner, and more. Also included are two featurettes; an outtakes montage and a documentary titled “Scene Stealers”. Also featured are a deleted/alternate scenes compilation, a trailer for the movie, and a music video for the song “Music” by Erick Sermon and Marvin Gaye, which is by far one of my favorite songs to come out this year.

Summary:

One of the year’s most underrated movies, What’s the Worst That Could Happen is consistent and frequent with the laughs, as well as its thoroughly sharp script, and credit should go to the film’s star-packed cast for delivering their best, which made the movie even more entertaining.