When a film strikes a chord deep
within you, I’m talking about when it really speaks to you on a profound level,
it’s indescribable. Everyone has a film that holds a special place in their
heart, regardless of the quality or popularity of it. If it means something to
you, that’s all that matters.
But as you get older, something
happens. You begin to forget the sort of magic that certain movies create
within you. And soon, the film that you could watch everyday, the one you could
watch without ever getting tired of it, changes. You begin to notice the flaws
and wonder why you even liked it in the first place. We grow up so, naturally,
our tastes change. We can’t do anything about that. But what we can do is look
back at those films, forget whatever’s bothering us in this hectic day and age
and remember a time before everything got so serious.
Every week, Long Lost Cinema presents a film
that you may have forgotten; for no particular reason, aside from the fact that
life simply got in the way. Cult flicks, forgotten classics, guilty pleasures-
they’re all here for your nostalgic pleasure.
Today, we rediscover 1991’s Nothing
This week I’ll be talking about
a film that is, by all accounts, pretty bad.
Even when I was younger I knew there were a number of problems with
it. Still, I couldn’t stop watching
it. The cast is actually quite strong-
Chevy Chase (when he was still funny), Dan Akroyd, John Candy, Demi Moore. Looking at those names now, I’m surprised
that the film didn’t turn out funnier than it did. But sadly, what you see is what you get.
Written by Akroyd and his
brother Peter, Nothing But Trouble is a story that revolves around Chris, a
young hotshot who, while trying to woo a beautiful woman (Moore), ends up in
Valkenvania, a dilapidated town nestled deep within New Jersey. It’s the type of place that a child would
conjure up, in that everything seems to be an infantile invention of sorts and
completely outlandish at that. As soon
as he enters the town, Chris falls into trouble after failing to pay any
attention to a road sign. What should
be a simple “Here’s your ticket, now get out of here” scenario involving a cop
(Candy) and Chris quickly takes a turn when the demented Judge
Alvin Valkenheise (Akroyd donning tons of make-up) enters the picture. As the title suggests, this all leads to
nothing but trouble. Basically, one
scenario leads to another more outlandish situation.
I’m sure it sounds like I’m
being a little too harsh on the film, but I’m not. It’s an aggravating picture for sure, because it has so many
untapped possibilities, which is why I feel the way I do about it. Clearly, Akroyd injected the script with as
much mayhem as possible; it’s like he had so many ideas and decided to plaster
them all on screen with the hope of some cohesiveness. Sometimes it works, most of the time it
doesn’t. But when it gets something
right… sit back, enjoy and let the madness take over. Take, for example, Bobo and Lil’ Debbull. Even to this day I remember these characters
because there was something relatable about them. They were outsiders and I was an outsider, so we had that
connection. And that was pretty much it
when it came to connections, because they were troll-like in appearance and
were the Judge’s mentally challenged grandsons. They were the typical goofs that no one in the film took too
seriously. And if I remember correctly,
that’s due mostly in part to the fact that they literally ran around in their
oversized stained underwear.
I think the reason why I liked
the film in the first place all those years ago was because it reminded me of a
live action issue of Mad Magazine, it was just an
assault on the senses. There was always
something to look at, little knick-knacks here and there. With that in mind, if anything, the
production design was, and still is, quite stellar.
Chevy Chase was… well, he was
Chevy Chase. You tend to know what to
expect when it came to him, so his performance, and character for that matter,
wasn’t much of a surprise. John Candy,
in the dual role of the prosecuting police officer and his sister, is
great. Even to this day, I’m
hard-pressed to find a performance of Candy’s that I didn’t like. Demi Moore came off as being quite spunky,
which I didn’t remember at all when I first watched it. Aside from that, she was pretty much the
bland and boring character. Obviously,
the film belonged to Akroyd. He did direct
it, after all. So if you’re a fan of
offbeat characters, enjoy. This was a
character that was created to gross you out and he did it in spades. If only the personalities of the other characters were given as
much attention as Alvin, then maybe we’d be talking about one of the greatest
cult films of all time. But we’re
not. We’re talking about a film that
has pretty much dissolved from the collective mind of moviegoers
everywhere. Does it deserve such a
fate? No. Very few films do. It’s a
fun time waster, with a couple of gross-out gags and weird characters to keep
you entertained. There’s plenty of
imagination to go around, but it’s obvious that budget restraints held a tight
hold on what ended up on screen.
In many ways, Nothing
But Trouble is similar to one of those cheap monster rides at a circus
or carnival- you can see the faults, but there’s just so much fun to be had
that you don’t care. The film isn’t
trying to be something more than what it is.
The actors work well together and like I said earlier, when it works, it
works really well. Plus, it has a
performance by rap group Digital Underground in which a young Tupac has a
cameo. Lately, that’s the only reason
people even remember the film.
I think it’s time we all find a
copy (good luck, that’s pretty difficult) and give it a watch because, if for
nothing else, Akroyd went all out with this film and filled it to the brim with
odd quirks that actually start to grow on you by the time the credits
roll. Personally speaking, I fondly
look back on the film because it reminds me of 1990’s cinema. MTV was rising to prominence and it was
obvious that filmmakers were trying to create films that showed no
boundaries. While many look back on
that era as a stain on the entertainment industry (“Making films for the ADD
crowd” is a common complaint that I’ve heard time and time again), there’s no
denying that the decade helped open the flood gates for ample amounts of imagination
to be projected up on that silver screen.
To prove my statement, in next week’s
installment we rediscover Freaked.