In some people's lives comes a moment when they are forced to seriously think about things they were taking for granted. That moment comes for one of the protagonists of Nothing to Lose, 1997 comedy written and directed by Steve Oedekerk. For Nick Beam (played by Tim Robbins), Los Angeles advertising executive, life seemed good and manifested in big salary, big house, luxurious car and beautiful wife Ann (played by Kelly Preston). All that turns upside down when Nick comes home one day and catches Ann in apparent act of infidelity with his boss Phillip Barrow (played by Michael McKean). In state of complete shock he sits behind the wheel of his car and aimlessly drives around until ending in Black part of town. There he becomes target of would-be carjacker T.Paul (played by Martin Lawrence) who would soon regret spotting that particular car. The incident brings Nick from his apathy and instead of giving car and wallet he steps on gas and begins long, suicidal drive to Arizona, practically kidnapping his hapless assailant. During the long drive and afterwards two men start to befriend each other. Nick gets idea of getting even with his boss by robbing the company and in doing so recruits T. Paul's professional services.
Nothing to Lose, although based on "high concept", had many proper ingredients for quality comedy. The actors were fine, some of the situations were quite funny and the soundtrack was nice (with I'll See You When You Get There being one of the brighter moments of Coolio's career). Unfortunately, one important ingredient was missing - plot that could somehow bring them together as part of 90-minute film. Oedekerk spends too much effort on not so subtle leftist social commentary and describes how the blacks in American inner cities turn to crime mostly due to racist policies of big corporations. Another thing that harms the film is completely unnecessary subplot of two real criminals shadowing protagonists. This only thing this subplot achieves is to remind audience that even such great actors like John C. McGinley and Giancarlo Esposito can, at times, deliver uninspired performances. The ending is also quite disappointing, with Oedekerk choosing the lamest possible plot contrivances in order to bring happiness to protagonists. Although mostly watchable, Nothing to Lose contradicts itself by showing that the film makers actually lost opportunity for good film.
RATING: 4/10 (+)
(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.films.reviews on March 11th 2004)
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