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  Nothing But Trouble Here Comes The Judge
Year: 1991
Director: Dan Aykroyd
Stars: Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Demi Moore, Valri Bromfield, Taylor Negron, Bertila Damas, Raymond J. Barry, Brian Doyle-Murray, John Wesley, Peter Aykroyd, Daniel Baldwin, James Staszkiel, Deborah Lee Johnson, Karla Tamburelli, Tupac Shakur
Genre: Horror, Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 3 votes)
Review: Chris Thorne (Chevy Chase) is a wealthy publisher who has played the stock market so often and so well that he knows it like the back of his hand. So when there's a party at the building he owns, the one where he lives in a penthouse apartment, he'd much rather be spending the night on his own and settling down for the evening - that is until he meets a new arrival, Diane Lightson (Demi Moore), while waiting for the elevator. She is weighed down with stuff and trying to control her two dogs, but they get to chatting and it turns out his interests are at odds with hers - so how that does that match up with them going on a road trip together the following day?

Actually, that bit's not too clear and smacks of plot contrivance, but no worse than what you'd find in the average Bob Hope vehicle of a few decades before. What was bad, as almost everyone who saw this in 1991 agreed, was the particular manner in which every joke, every humorous situation, fell as flat as a gravestone, leaving Nothing But Trouble relegated to many "worst movie ever!" lists, as for a while it appeared nobody had anything good to say about it. Move on a few years, and it had found its feet in the comedy world: all right, nobody was going to say it was a classic of Ghostbusters proportions, but as the comedy landscape grew more extreme, Aykroyd had apparently been onto something.

Watching it in the twenty-first century, it was never going to be everyone's cup of tea, but the reason for that was far from being a comedy, Aykroyd, for whom this was his directorial debut as well as writing the script, had rendered something a lot closer to the horror genre. In fact, for long stretches of this it came across as The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean crossed with that shocker benchmark, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, except that both of those were a lot funnier, intentionally so, than the aims at making the audience laugh here. And neither of them were outright comedies, of course. So if you wanted to see some television comedians (and [Demi Moore) in a horror setting, this might pique your interest.

It was not an out and out chiller, mind you, it simply arranged the gags and setpieces in that framework, although some have found its relentless comic grotesquerie unsettling. What happens is that Chris and Diane head off for Atlantic City where a business deal is going down, and somehow pick up a pair of Spanish-speaking Brazilians (Taylor Negron and Bertila Damas) in the back seat who think they are going for a picnic because they're under the impression Chris is a party animal in spite of all evidence to the contrary. They take a shortcut through New Jersey's backwoods and accidentally speed through one part of it, then not so accidentally get into a chase with the cop trying to pull them over, which lands them up before the judge.

The cop was played by SCTV regular John Candy (who also dragged up as his own sister), and the ancient judge was Aykroyd under a ton of makeup including a nose that looked like a penis for some reason. Like a lot of this, they seemed to be acting in different movies, and it was in that clash of styles that they presumably hoped to draw out the chuckles, but in effect made it all awkward and hard to get a handle on. Further tribute to Texas Chain Saw included a disgusting dinner sequence, although that, as with much else in the surroundings of the judge's scrapyard crossed with an old, dark courthouse, was arranged like a funhouse, full of contraptions, trapdoors and hidden dangers. Aykroyd didn't say much on the themes of the countryside being like hell for citydwellers that any number of comedies and horrors had before, but as he piled on the weirdness (was that Tupac Shakur?), it was possible to be oddly compelled by the relentless quality of it. Still wasn't funny, though. Music by Michael Kamen.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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