|Nothing to Lose|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 21 April 1998|
If the tale a man rendered suicidal by his wife's adultery and another apparently responsible fellow reduced to armed robbery by financial need doesn't exactly strike you as a knee-slapper, you're right, but still, 'Nothing To Lose' deserves a chance. Director/writer Steve Oedekerk is far too playful to let anything get very heavy. Forget the fact that we don't see the wife's face--the cheery tone alone is a tip-off as to what the finale will be.
Tim Robbins plays Nick Bean, an advertising executive who seems to have it all until he comes home to find his bedroom occupied by his boss. Thrown into a tailspin, Nick drives like a maniac until he is accosted by a would-be carjacker, Terence Paul (Martin Lawrence). Nick reacts the way many people dream of doing: with a slow, malicious smile, he says, "Boy, did you pick the wrong guy," and proceeds to take Terence on the wildest ride of his life.
The gonzo driving in Chapter 5 is a visual and audio highlight. Otherwise, 'Nothing To Lose' is handsome and well-recorded, but doesn't add much to the technology of comedy thrillers. Competently photographed with a lot of bright primary colors, it is, however, reasonably good fun. Filmmaker Oedekerk is anarchistic without being mean-spirited: the only characters here who get hurt invite their own injuries, Wile E. Coyote style.
Farcical though 'Nothing To Lose' is, interestingly, it has a few serious points to make about institutionalized racism, which the film implicates in Terence's employment problems. Elsewhere, Oedekerk's buoyancy comes close to bouncing through the fourth wall, especially when Nick and Terence solicit critiques on their robbery techniques from a store proprietor in Chapter 10. It's agreeable nonsense, done with good coming timing and sure-handed ease by all the participants. For viewers who can go with the flow, 'Nothing To Lose' isn't especially original, but it succeeds in being almost continuously funny.