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'Witless Protection' a pointless exercise

Source:Reuters.com Author:Frank Scheck Date:03/25/14 Click:

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - In the press notes for Larry the Cable Guy's latest comedy, "Witless Protection," his co-stars are quoted at length describing the constant hilarity they experienced on the set.

Unfortunately for filmgoers, little of that fun has made its way into the finished product, which makes his previous effort, "Delta Farce," seem a classic by comparison.

The aptly named "Witless Protection" opened Friday via Lionsgate without being screened in advance for the snobbish press, and earned just $2.2 million for the weekend.

Apparently seeking to fill the gaping cinematic void left by the untimely passing of Jim Varney ("Ernest"), the rotund Southern comedian again is playing a yokel, a deputy sheriff who attends to duties like resolving a domestic dispute between a man and his horse.

When Larry encounters the unusual sight of a beautiful high-society woman (Ivana Milicevic) being escorted by a group of "Men in Black" types, he decides that she must be being held against her will. He takes it upon himself to save the day by kidnapping the woman and winds up being pursued by a team of FBI agents led by the slow-burning Yaphet Kotto (making a welcome return to the big screen after an absence of more than a decade).

The resulting "Midnight Run" scenario -- Kotto plays the same character he did in that 1988 comedy -- finds the mismatched duo forming an unlikely bond while becoming embroiled in a complex adventure involving a crooked wealthy tycoon (Peter Stormare, sporting perhaps the worst British accent ever) and the kung fu-fighting leader (Eric Roberts) of his security team Private Maximum Security, or PMS for short.

Director-screenwriter Charles Robert Carner's script includes such gemlike dialogue exchanges as "Are you insane? No, I'm Larry" and "Do you think he's attempting subterfuge? Or, he's trying to fool us."

Needless to say, much of the humor revolves around Larry's copious repertoire of gross bodily functions and his massive girth, the latter of which is showcased in his landmark, first (albeit, thankfully PG-13) nude scene.

In an illustration of the alternative universe of comedy films, Jenny McCarthy plays Larry's loving girlfriend, showcasing her estimable physical assets in a variety of revealing costumes.

At least a fright-wigged Joe Mantegna, delivering an execrable cameo as a whacked-out doctor, has a good excuse for his presence; the writer-director is one of his former film students.

Cast:

Deputy Larry Stalder: Larry the Cable Guy

Madeline Dimkowski: Ivana Milicevic

Alonzo Mosely: Yaphet Kotto

Arthur Grimsley: Peter Stormare

Wilford Duvall: Eric Roberts

Dr. Rondog "Doc" Savage: Joe Mantegna

Connie: Jenny McCarthy

Director-screenwriter: Charles Robert Carner; Story: Alan Blomquist, Charles Robert Carner; Producers: J.P. Williams, Alan Blomquist; Executive producers: Tom Ortenberg, Thomas Busch; Director of photography: Michael Goi; Production designer: Cabot McMullen; Costume designer: Susan Kaufmann; Editor: Marc Leif.

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