A businessman is the prisoner of a sadistic back-county judge and his crazy family.
Nothing but trouble is a screwball comedy from 1991 starring comedians Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd and John Candy. The only way I can describe this movie is crazy. The basic plot is the ever popular fish out of water, city people trapped in weird country town. But that only barely describes how weird this film gets. If you’re expecting Fletch, or National Lampoon’s Vacation, you are in for a surprise.
Chevy Chase is a businessman who agrees to drive an old flame, (the lovely Demi Moore in a rare comedy appearance) to a business meeting. Chase and his 3 friends set out on the trip, get off course, try to outrun a cop (big mistake) and end up before the honorable Judge Alvin Valkenheiser. Judge Alvin doesn’t believe in misdemeanors, felonies, mugshots, attorneys or even juries for that matter. If you get on his bad side in court, you’re liable to be executed.
Yes, that’s actually Dan Ackroyd somewhere under all that makeup.
The Judge has a grudge against bankers after a tragic coal fire caused by a company owned bank destroyed his home town of Valkenvania. Naturally, he thinks Chase is a banker and the group is jailed in the surreal house of horrors that serves as the jail, city hall and the judges home.
Before the Judge.
Don’t mess with the police in Valkenvania!
A typical scene for this movie is the when a group of drug dealers are brought before the judge after trying to shoot it out with John Candy’s character. They’ve been caught red handed with guns, marijuana and cocaine and spend most of the time laughing at Judge Valkenheiser.
The Judge sentences them to death and dumps them down a trap door and onto a conveyor towards this town’s unique form of capital punishment, Mr. Bonestripper. Here’s a link to the scene on youtube. This one is a good test, if you like this scene, you’ll probably enjoy the whole film. The rock group Damn Yankees provides the score at this point.
In another scene, Judge Alvin freestyles on the organ with a group of hip-hop musicians including a young Tupac. (That Tupac, he’s in everything!)
The plot is fairly slim, it’s mainly there to show John Candy and Dan Ackroyd clowning around in increasingly bizarre skits. Candy, of course, is in drag for part of the movie, playing his character’s sister, Eldona.
John Candy… AND John Candy
I remember this one traumatized some kids when it hit the cable channels and video stores. Parents see the cast, expect a typical Chevy Chase comedy and get some pretty unsettling horror sequences. While not a slasher flick by any means, the surreal nature of the film, the prosthetics and costumes plus some gross out humor was a little extreme for smaller kids.
In some ways it was a few years too early for the comedy revolution of the ’90s that made this kind of gross out comedy normal. I could see Jim Carrey and Mike Meyers having fun with this one.
Nothing but trouble was famously panned by film critic Roger Ebert, who described it as one of the worst films he had ever seen. The fallout from the films resulting flop, unfortunately, damaged Dan Ackroyds career since he was director and producer as well as starring in it.
Verdict 2 Gavels out of 5
This one appeals to a select audience. If you’re a fan of surreal, dark comedies like The Burbs, Sneakers and Home Fries, you’ll probably like this one. Everyone else will be edging away wondering what’s going on.