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5/31/17

NOTHING BUT TROUBLE - REVIEW


The only film directed by Dan Aykroyd to date, Nothing But Trouble was a dark comedy from 1991 which starred Chevy Chase as a businessman who is arrested for speeding then put on trial in the trash and weirdo-filled little town of Valkenvania, just off the New Jersey Turnpike.

With a cast that includes John Candy, Demi Moore, Taylor Negron and Dan Aykroyd himself, Nothing But Trouble looked like a safe bet and its goofy plot had lots of potential. Unfortunately, the film was a massive flop, gathering only about $8M against a healthy budget of $40M, and the critics did not go easy on it. Nothing But Trouble was panned by everyone back in the day, including Chevy Chase himself, it was nominated for several Razzie awards and Dan Aykroyd would never dare direct a film again afterwards. Looking back, the movie's failure at the box-office is hardly surprising: sinking this much money into a story this bizarre was never going to deliver. The film itself, on the other hand, isn't quite the catastrophe the critics at the time suggested it was. Tonally, it's all over the place, the cast seems confused by how they're supposed to be acting most of the time and the whole thing is much too random for its own good but it does have its moments.

The idea of a Transylvania-style horror setting existing in a forgotten village near New Jersey is a funny one and a better script could have definitely made that work. Dan Aykroyd's character, a sadistic judge who sentences anyone he dislikes to a horrible death, is amusingly gruesome as are all the other freaky inhabitants of Valkenvania and the contrast between them and the somewhat more uptight and normal main characters leads to some entertainingly silly scenes. This is a visually creative flick as the busy Terry Gilliam-esque sets really sell the idea of a post-apocalyptic garbage heap plus it's unlikely we'll ever see a rollercoaster death machine or Dan Aykroyd as a giant man-baby in diapers in any other movie so that alone makes the film worth checking out. This could have easily been another cult gem like The 'Burbs but the script just needed more polish and better jokes because seeing Aykroyd with a penis nose engage in an impromptu rap musical number is just odd.

There's something fascinating about a film like Nothing But Trouble. This is an over-budgeted flop with tons of potential yet messy execution which makes for an entertaining, if confusing watch. The cast is fun and the film has some clever ideas but it really only works as a curiosity.

Weird.

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