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Nothing But Trouble

***
1991

‘…Aykroyd’s surreal brand of anti-authoritarian humour rules this particular kingdom…’

Yes, it’s some more Chevy Chase, hot from the griddle! The main creative driving force behind Nothing But Trouble, however, is writer/director Dan Aykroyd, who based this elaborate horror farce on his own experiences after getting a speeding ticket in a small town and getting hauled before an eccentric local judge. Warners were, understandably, keen to work again with the man behind The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters, and seem to have given Aykroyd free rein here; the result is an undisciplined, sometimes grotesque, but kind of watchable comedy that’s short on actual laughs, but does have a surreal quality and a wealth of star talent that makes it a one-of-a kind viewing experience.

Chris Thorne (Chase) is a financial publisher who seeks to impress Diane Lightson (Demi Moore) with his flash BMW; they take a drive down the New Jersey Turnpike, but are persuaded to stop off in the small town of Valkenvania, where they fall foul of a cop (John Candy) who takes them to Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Aykroyd). The judge lives in a huge mansion that has hidden doors, trapdoors, ball-swamps, chutes and even a roller-coaster called a Bone-stripper. If this isn’t strange enough, there’s also room for such jazzy ephemera as two obese trolls, Bill Murray’s brother Brian, a Tupac Shakur cameo, John Candy in drag, and a performance by the inimitable Digital Underground, whose Humpty Dance is still regarded as one of the seminal works of the age.

Aykroyd’s original story makes more sense given that he was an established comic; Nothing But Trouble would cohere more if the couple were tv stars rather than drab financial figures, as it would better explain the judge’s interest in them; the back-story here seems raggely connected to the actual plot. There’s a very long build-up until Aykroyd is revealed under heavy prosthetics as the judge, and his performance is endearingly odd., shouting lines like ‘Put out that dog rocket’ and ‘What’s on your brians?’ A few of the sight gigs land, like Chris and Diane getting chased down a moving corridor, and the whole film has an impressive physicality that comes from big budgets and big imagination. It’s less durable that Chris is portrayed as a casual sexist and racist. ‘Not bad for a one eyed Russian immigrant’ is his opening zinger as he steps out of a NYC taxi.

Nothing But Trouble has nothing but a bad reputation, yet has a number of points of interest; this isn’t the sure-fire, confident comedy that Ghostbusters was, but does have a little of the same anything-goes energy. Chase seems disinterested, but Aykroyd makes up for that but adding layers of comedic detail that recall Beetlejuice. While not exactly a success, there’s reasons that this film has begun to pick up a reputation; while hard-core Chase fans may balk at some of the indignities here, Aykroyd’s surreal brand of anti-authoritarian humour rules this particular kingdom.

I’ve added Tupac below to provide a flavour on the nonsense here.

 

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  1. Oh Demi, Demi, Demi. How could you do this to me? I thought our bond was something special, something only we had, something nobody else could understand? And then I hear you star in a film with “The Rapscallion”? Stabbed in the back on my own petard. That’s how this makes me feel 🙁

    I don’t really enjoy Akroyd’s type of humor. I thought I did because I loved Ghostbusters so much, but once I realized that others had a bigger part in forming that than him, and after watching Blues Brothers, I realized, I don’t find his type of humor funny. He’s a funny guy, when he’s telling someone else’s jokes….

  2. Well, I had never heard of this before which makes it remind me of ‘A Scanner Darkly’ for the star line up, but a lesser known movie although my girlfriend and her mother were familiar. I watched this last night ( yes, I traveled the future to find this blog post, jk ha ha ), and while the plot seemed kind of botched together and slightly soul-less due to the fact that it was one fun idea after another, strung in a line, that’s exactly what it was. Non stop hilarity and fun with a bunch of great big actors. I’d take it any day over a Rom com with no originality in cinematography and just people blah blah blahing the whole time. Good morning from GA, USA from the bottom of the kellogg’s box. 😎

    • Hello Georgia, always on my mind! I came to scoff at this movie, but it’s desire to entertain, and string of goofy scenes kind of won me over. and just the wieght of the cast ensures some interest; it’s not bland, it feels like one person’s comic vision, and yes, there’s a whole lot of rom-coms which don’t provide much com in comparison. Nothing But Trouble at least goes for something, even if it’s aim is often askew.

      A Scanner Darkly has an incredible line-up too, but much more tightly reined into a plot….and yes, I’m keen on commenters time-travelling back and forward to offer insightful comments!

  3. Am I really a horrible person when I say that I have never heard of this film before? 🤔🤔 The post at the top of the post looks cool though😊
    I have no idea if this is a film I would like, especially since it’s a comedy, but it sounds weird enough that I’m not crossing it off my list yet😊😊

    • That’s the spirit! There’s reasons why you’ve not heard of this film, but the poster is cool, and there’s enough daft stuff in here to make it worth a look!

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