Film review: Nothing But Trouble

Dan Aykroyd's directing debut, the bottom-of-the-barrel, aptly titled "Nothing But Trouble," is likely to go down in film history as the only time the "Saturday Night Live" alumnus got a chance to get behind the camera — no studio chief who gets a look at this film is likely to give him a second chance.

Replete with Aykroyd's trademark gadgetry and doubletalk, "Nothing But Trouble" — which was on the slate at Christmas as "Valkenvania," but which was understandably bumped from the schedule — is, of all things, a parody of the spate of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" imitations that filled out drive-in double-bills in the late '70s and early '80s.

Aykroyd also wrote the screenplay and has two roles, a pair of very bizarre characters buried under tons of makeup. His heavy-hitter co-stars are Chevy Chase, Demi Moore and John Candy. Candy also plays two characters, one of them a mute woman.

There's so much wrong with this movie it's hard to know where to begin but its chief flaw is a very simple one — it's not funny.

As the film opens, New York yuppie investment counselor Chase agrees to drive his new neighbor, a lawyer who lives upstairs (Moore), to Atlantic City. They reluctantly take with them a bizarre Latin brother and sister (Taylor Negron, Bertila Damas) who are clients of Chase.

While driving through New Jersey they decide to go off the main road to search for a scenic picnic site. Instead, they find the nearly desolate village of Valkenvania, where Chase makes the mistake of running a stop sign in his snazzy BMW, compounding his sin by trying to outrun the local sheriff (Candy).

Candy picks up the foursome and drags them through a junkyard loaded with wrecked automobiles and barrels of toxic waste and into the courthouse of the 106-year-old local justice of the peace (Aykroyd). There they become prisoners of Aykroyd's lethal funhouse, a mansion decorated in an old haunted house motif, complete with spiral slides that lead into the basement, dropout floors, skulls and bones galore and even a roller-coaster ride that leads to a flesh-eating execution machine called "Mister Bonestripper."

Most of the movie has Chase and Moore — the latter relegated to low-comedy, sex-object status — running and mugging as they climb over or become buried in piles of garbage.

It must be said that Aykroyd brings a certain manic glee to this material but the joy is not contagious to the audience. What is conveyed is more like desperation. Aykroyd is like a child with too many toys and too much freedom and the resulting chaos rules his movie.

Though Aykroyd seems to be having the time of his life as the judge, Chase, Candy and Moore appear much less animated than usual — downright embarrassed in some scenes. (Boy, does Aykroyd owe them one.)

And Moore must be kicking herself, wondering what possessed her to follow her monster hit "Ghost" with this clunker.

"Nothing But Trouble" is rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, vulgarity and drugs.

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