Picks and Pans Review: What's the Worst That Could Happen?

updated 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/11/2001 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Martin Lawrence, Danny DeVito, John Leguizamo, Carmen Ejogo

Kevin Caffrey (Lawrence) is a professional thief specializing in burglaries among those in the highest tax bracket. Max Fairbanks (DeVito) is a ruthless billionaire who boasts, "I don't have coronaries—I give coronaries!" The two meet when Fairbanks interrupts Caffrey while the latter is robbing the mogul's beach house. Fairbanks calls the cops and, as they're hauling Caffrey away, points to a cheap ring on the younger man's finger and claims it as his own. In fact the ring was given to the thief by his girlfriend (Ejogo) and has sentimental value. The rest of What's the Worst That Could Happen? is devoted to an ever-escalating battle between the two men—after Caffrey escapes from the cops—as the thief tries to get his ring back.

This plot is as worthless as the ring it revolves around, but that doesn't keep Lawrence and DeVito from having fun. These two play well off each other, with DeVito, in particular, winning laughs portraying yet another joyfully venal vulgarian. Glenne Headly and Nora Dunn are amusing as, respectively, Fairbanks's loyal secretary and suspicious wife, and William Fichtner is weirdly inspired as a preening detective. Leguizamo, cast as Caffrey's partner, has the film's funniest line when, displaying a newly boosted luxe watch on his wrist, he crows, "Now I can move into a white neighborhood."

In the end, though, this crass, cheerful comedy is about marking time, both for the viewer and the talented comic actors who work hard trying to pretend there's a there here. What's the Worst is disposable fare best watched on an airplane, chuckled over a few times and forgotten by the time the pilot instructs the flight attendants to prepare for landing. (PG-13)

Bottom Line: A petty offense

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