Warm male-bonding comedy meets hilarious crime caper. Only not quite. Nothing To Lose is a comic road movie that stalls artistically in its first half-hour and never really pulls out of first gear after that. A pity, because there are some genuinely funny moments, and the unlikely pairing of Robbins and Lawrence (the one that isn't Will Smith in Bad Boys), while failing to generate hip, memorable sparks, still makes a good impression, thanks to their likeable personalities.
Writer/director Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura II) happily keeps things ticking along throughout the piece's relatively short running time, but Nothing To Lose never feels like it's going anywhere fast. Instead of a narrative progression, we're treated to a series of unconnected comic sketches, with Oedekerk's script tinkering with the two characters, pausing only now and then to dish out some half-hearted social comment to the audience (Lawrence's actually a jobless electrician who turns to a life of crime only to support his family).
Scenes involving physical humour generally fall embarrassingly flat (Robbins and Lawrence brawling outside a diner in the middle of Arizona and a lengthy scene featuring a dancing security guard, played by Oedekerk himself).
Tired storyline devices (like Robbins and Lawrence being mistaken for a pair of interracial thieves) don't help either, and even a late plot twist can't make any impact - - you've given up caring by this point. Sadly more Ace Ventura 2 (a pile of arse), than The Nutty Professor (a hoot), Nothing To Lose only avoids total disaster through spirited performances courtesy of the two leads.
Robbins is the straight man here, often letting the more frenetic Lawrence hog the scene. But the former still shines, while the latter, although a talented comedian, merely reprises his big attitude persona from Bad Boys. Occasionally this eye-rolling, manic mode is used to good comic effect, but his overacting isn't quite enough to overcome the patchy script. It's an intriguing pairing, but doesn't quite click. Be grateful that, despite the height differences, they aren't Little&Large.
Despite the intriguing pairing of Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins, and a few funny moments, this "madcap, full throttle, interracial road movie" never lives up to its promise, due to an uneven screenplay that delivers too few laughs.