June 6, 2017

Movie Review: Nothing but Trouble (1991)

What else can I say but Wow! Some movies just completely defy explanation and this 1991 oddity is one of them. Nothing but Trouble was Dan Aykroyd’s big follow up to 1989’s Ghostbusters II. Yes, he made some other appearances, but nothing quite as high profile as this exceptional box office dud. The film blends dark comedy with some backwoods horror and splashes with a healthy dose of surreal. It arrived in theaters where it proceeded to go nowhere, it is possible it is more famous for the hate it drew from Roger Ebert than anything else. Do you want to know the craziest thing? I love it.

There is something about Nothing but Trouble that speaks to me. Having just revisited it for the first time in years, I am glad to see how well it holds up. It may have the reputation of being something awful, but I assure you that is not the case. It is stream of consciousness that flows into a river of absurdity and does not seem to exist in any sort of reality you or I would recognize. It is the sort of movie that just have to strap in and accept it on its terms.

Chevy Chase is Chris Thorne, a financial publisher, who upon meeting the lovely Diane Lightson (Demi Moore), agrees to drive her to Philadelphia for an important meeting. Along for the ride is the over the top Brazilian brother/sister team of Fausto (Taylor Negron) and Renalda (Bertila Damas). After some urging from the tagalongs, Chris agrees to take a more scenic route. This is where the fun begins.

After inadvertently running a stop sign and leading local law enforcement (John Candy) on a high speed chase, Chris and his passengers are brought before a local judge (Dan Aykroyd), late at night, in the hopes of finding a quick resolution to their predicament. Of course, this is where our tale takes a turn into a nightmarish world of tyrannical judges, overzealous police, mutant kids, killer amusements, rooms filled with bones, and a town courthouse filled with so many traps and passageways as to make lovers of haunted house attractions drool.

Frankly, it is not hard to understand why this movie was greeted so harshly. Those who rank it among the worst movies ever made are not necessarily wrong. I guess it is more my twisted vision that doesn’t see it is a being bad and love the outside the box absurdity that it attempts to present. To me it is not without its faults, but it is easy to overlook them due to the insanity that is constantly being thrown at the audience.

Nothing but Trouble follows a yuppies journey into a hell, a carcinogenic powder keg junkyard of a town presided over by an insane judge following laws that are 100 years old, if not more. A small, tucked away town left to stew and ferment in the gases seeping out of old mine shafts they love on top of, throwing the book at anyone with even a minor infraction as a way to right perceived ancient wrongs.

It is a seriously weird movie, simultaneously hysterical and disturbing. Words alone cannot really do it justice. I am actually sad that this stands as Aykroyd’s only directorial effort. What he crafted here is anything but conventional, it defies logic and toys with good taste. I have to wonder if the reception and the fact that Aykroyd was front and center as director, writer, producer, and actor, that he ended up a little gunshy. Would be interested to see where a follow up to this may have gone.

Nothing but Trouble is unique among comedic horror, focusing more on the comedy, but definitely bringing in the horror element, with plenty of horrible things being implied. Picture, if you will, it The Texas Chainsaw Massacre had been a comedy, it very well might resemble something like this. It will certainly make you think twice before trekking down uncharted roads as well as ensuring that you pay attention to all traffic signs.

Highly Recommended.

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