Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'Witless Protection': A wit-free comedy

Witless Protection (2008)
Starring: Larry the Cable Guy (Daniel Lawrence Whitney), Ivana Milicevic, Yaphet Kotto, Ivana Milicevic, Eric Roberts, Joe Mantegna, and Jenny McCarthy
Director: Charles Robert Carner
Rating: One of Two Stars

A dimwitted small-town sheriff's deputy with dreams of some day being an FBI agent (Whitney) becomes the sole protector of a key witness in a Federal corruption trial (Milicevic) when he separates her from her security detail in the mistaken belief they are kidnappers. Can a cop dumber than a box of rocks get a witness safely to trial when hitmen and both legit and corrupt FBI agents are hunting both him and his charge?

"Witless Protection" is one of those comedies where the main character is so stupid that he succeeds because the bad guys constantly under-estimate the depth of idiocy. Basically, Larry the Deputy is what Inspector Clouseau would be like if he had been raised on a steady diet of lead paint chips and "Hee-Haw" re-runs. Every joke and situation in the film plays to the lowest common denominator, so this is one of those cases where it's imperative to leave your brain in neutral while watching, or you won't find any enjoyment here whatsoever. (A plus to the movie not challenging even the slowest of minds is that the solitary plot twist it features does come as a surprise; it anything but a movie as stupid as this, you'd see it coming a mile away, but here it's unexpected.)

It's a comedy that probably was funnier on paper, because it's main character COULD have worked and COULD have been funny if the actor playing the character had an air of likability, or perhaps just a tiny bit of grace or class. Unfortunately, as funny as Whitney can be when doing stand-up as "Larry the Cable Guy," the persona simply doesn't work in this movie. This character is so stupid and so crass that it's impossible to buy him as any sort of law enforcement figure; the aforementioned Clouseau can fake his way through an investigation, but the character here will fool no one, because he's a lethal combination of idiocy and completely lack of social grace.

While everyone in the movie is clearly game and trying their best to make it work, and Yaphet Kotto and Eric Roberts are amusing as the baffled antagonists trying to outwit a high-functioning retard, the center of the film simply isn't up for the task.

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