Trial and Error

Bomb Rating: 

This film is both a trial and an error.

As Jonathan Lynn's directorial future spirals down the great career toilet, he makes a pathetic, last-ditch attempt to jump on his own negligible coattails and return to the genre that first got him noticed: the fish-out-of-water lawyer story. It's actually rather sad that "My Cousin Vinny" was the high point in Lynn's career, given its own tenuous grasp on quality. However, it's practically Shakespeare compared to such enduring classics as "Sgt. Bilko," "Greedy" and "Clue."

Playing Vinny in "Trial and Error" is Michael Richards, a.k.a. "Kramer" from "Seinfeld." The name of his character is actually Richard Rietti, an out-of-work actor who -- get this mind-blowing galactic transposition -- is kind of a klutzy oddball. When he throws a bachelor party for his buddy, Charlie Tuttle (Jeff Daniels), he gets him wasted before the big trial. Always the actor, Richard then marches into court pretending to be Charlie.

Two things really get under my skin about this film. The first one is imagining Jonathan Lynn sitting around wondering if we're really so stupid that we'd pay money to see him recycle his own jokes. Secondly, why don't filmmakers stop raising expectations when television stars try to ply their schtick in the big, scary adult world of film. This movie should just have been called "Kramer," just like "The Pallbearer" should have been called "Ross," and "Ed" should have been called "Joey." In other words, "Goofy Television Man Can't Act."

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