Planning For The Worst

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

It's time to go visit the old Hollywood school of scoundrels and thieves, set amidst the world of high priced art and fishy corporate deals.

Martin Lawrence ("Big Momma's House") plays Kevin Caffrey, a small-time thief with an eye for fine art and better women. He meets up with the beautiful Amber, who has to sell a painting that her dad bequeathed to her. So, our "noble" knight ups and steals it from the new owner, thus earning a place in Amber's life and a very special ring in return. Soon after, Kevin is approached by his goofy buddy Berger, who informs him about a house lying empty, waiting to be burgled. The house belongs to Max Fairbanks (Danny DeVito, in a reprise of his role in "Other People's Money"), a crooked and arrogant business tycoon who's known for his shady deals. Unfortunately for the two burglars, Max is at home when he's not supposed to be, with the result that Kevin is caught by the cops. But Fairbanks adds humiliation to Kevin's arrest, by claiming Amber's ring as his own and taking it away. Which is when the fun starts.

Kevin is determined to get the ring back. So, he goes back and re-burgles Max's house. Max is determined not to give the ring back, which only makes Kevin take increasingly dangerous risks. With the help of a cyber-savvy pal and two escape artists, he and Berger keep getting away with Max's money. Which distracts Max from his real concerns and causes him to alienate his closest assosciates. And thus is the scene set for the finale, with the biggest heist of them all to be undertaken.

The basic premise of the story is fine, but it loses something in the telling. The characters are too stereotyped - from the intelligent-yet-jobless Amber to Max's bumbling security-in-charge - to be really funny. And even the wise-cracks can be anticipated, which kind of ruins all the fun. Of course, there are a few genuinely hilarious moments, but mostly, the charcters overdo it. The plot has some major flaws, which are glossed over with some fast-talking. So, not great news on that front.

The day is, of course, carried by DeVito who plays the frustrated and wily tycoon to perfection. Lawrence, unfortunately, falls back on typical "brother" funny acting - lots of fast talking, funny faces and jumping around. I wish these guys could get out of this rut - not evryone's Eddie Murphy, right? The others flit in and out on cue, but what was the point of that silly policeman? Such blatant begging for laughs gets this film nowhere!

The movie is not one to remember, but if you've got nothing better to do, then it's worth a watch...if only for the beautiful art.

This article was first published on 01 Nov 2001.