A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie includes drinking, smoking, swearing, and sexual references and situations. A woman has sex with a man who does her a favor, and this is shown as charming and even romantic. There are also many stereotypes that will make many families uncomfortable.
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What's the story?
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN stars Martin Lawrence as a thief named Kevin who falls in love with a pretty English anthropologist named Amber (Carmen Ejogo). She gives him a lucky ring that once belonged to her father. He and a pal named Berger (John Leguizamo) break into what they think is the deserted vacation home of Max (Danny De Vito), only to find that Max is there, having an assignation with Miss September. Max captures Kevin and calls the police. When they arrest Kevin, Max sees the ring and tells the police that it is his. They believe him, and make Kevin give Max the ring. Kevin spends the rest of the movie trying to get revenge – and trying to get the ring back, too.
Is it any good?
This movie has a terrific cast and some very funny moments, but overall slackness and underlying cynicism make it uncomfortably distasteful. The underlying premise is that the only difference between the businessman, the politician, the lawyer, and the man who steals is that at least the professional thief is honest about what he does. Donald Westlake, the author of the book that inspired this movie, made that premise wickedly delicious. But screenwriter and director Sam Weisman removed the satiric twists to make it into a star vehicle for Lawrence and the result lacks any sense of dramatic build-up. Instead of two wily adversaries, it is so one-sided in favor of Lawrence's character that any narrative arc evaporates. It's just a string of skits.
Some of the skits are pretty funny, but there is something unsettling about the underlying assumptions here, especially the smug self-righteousness of the thieves. Ask us to believe that Kevin is a crook and the hero of the movie, and we can accept it. But it is a little harder to accept that his girlfriend is an educated person who is happy to be a waitress and wait up nights for Kevin to come home from a hard night of thievery. The mincing gay detective and the evil businessman who uses Yiddish (among others) are tired stereotypes. And too much simply does not make sense.
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