When Danny DeVito and Martin Lawrence read the script for What’s The Worst That Could Happen?, chances are they saw a ripe opportunity to fashion a pair of starring roles. Sadly, they’ve badly squandered the opportunity: What’s The Worst That Could Happen? only works thanks to some outstanding support.
Lawrence is the prime offender, trying to wedge as much of his usual fast-crackin’ schtick as possible into every scene. Initially he’s fairly charming, but quickly slips into annoying territory – it feels as though he’s treating the whole thing like just another stand-up routine. DeVito, meanwhile, acts like he’s sent in the DeVitoBotTM, a device capable of delivering his usual slimy-yet-naïve turn without putting any sort of spin on it. It’s a lazy piece of work and, considering his faultless reputation as a producer (Pulp Fiction, Out Of Sight...), you’d think he’d be capable of making a better choice.
Thank goodness, then, that those lower down the cast list rescue the film (and the audience) from the overpowering star egos. Though some are given relatively little to work with (Nora Dunn as DeVito’s wife makes the best of a stereotypically overbearing harridan and The West Wing’s Richard Schiff is cruelly underused as a harassed lawyer), everyone else gets a decent run.
John Leguizamo motormouths his way through the sidekick role but most impressive is William Fichtner, probably best remembered as the tough cop in Go. Here he’s almost unrecognisable as the foppish yet cunning detective Alex Tardio, who comes over as the lovechild of Andy Warhol and Jason King from ‘70s cult classic Department S. He swans into his scenes, all gold shirts and good grooming, leaving the audience giggling and begging for more. Fans of Lawrence and DeVito will enjoy their antics, but everyone else is well provided for too. It’s not the stars who shine in this one.
What's The Worst That Could Happen? has a solid vein of comedy running through its centre, thanks to a batch of quality supporting players. It's just a shame that you have to put up with lazy performances from the less-than-satisfying leads to find it.