Witless Protection (PG-13)

Mark Burger

Hollywood.com Says
What should be the worst movie of the year, if not all time, is instead a reasonably passable vehicle for Larry the Cable Guy. No kidding.

Story
Small-town deputy Larry Stalder (you know who) unwittingly (of course) intercepts and kidnaps a beautiful blonde, thinking she’s being kidnapped. Well, as it turns out…somehow, along the way, Larry uncovers some dirty business within the FBI and saves the day. Story?

Acting
Believe it or not, Witless Protection is actually a showcase for Ivana Milicevic, as Larry’s not-entirely-reluctant captive. She is not only great to look at (even Larry says so), but she plays things so incredibly straight that she manages, almost single-handedly, to bring a semblance of balance to these lowbrow proceedings. And, fair’s fair–Larry the Cable Guy (nee Dan Whitney) plays right into the hands of both fans and critics alike. He is who he is–or who he plays. This is about as good a showcase for him as you’re likely to see. That can be construed, deservedly so, as faint praise or faint condemnation. If nothing else, Larry the Cable Guy plays well with others: Yaphet Kotto, reprising his character from Midnight Run and enjoying his biggest screen role in years; Peter Stormare, channeling Jeremy Irons, it seems, as the principal bad guy; Eric Roberts, Jenny McCarthy–as Larry’s waitress girlfriend and not doing a bad job of it; and finally Joe Mantegna. OK, so he embarrasses himself.

Direction
Witless Protection marks the feature debut of Charles Robert Carner, a veteran of the small screen making the leap to the large. He keeps things moving, if nothing else. This isn’t a technically well-made movie. The color sometimes veers, jarringly, from scene to scene, and in some scenes the actors aren’t mouthing the words being broadcast. Other scenes are clearly shot against a blank background (all the better to composite a digital image there later), but the folks who are going to rush out to see this movie simply do not care–and will not care–about such incidental matters. It’s best to go into this with that in mind. Then again, it might be best to leave one’s mind behind.

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