NOTHING TO LOSE & DREAM WITH THE FISHES

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


Two buddy movies rode into town this week. While "Nothing to Lose" opened with multiplex fanfare, "Dream With the Fishes" slipped quietly into the art houses from the world of independent film. One falls short when it shouldn't; the other becomes oddly affecting just when it seems it couldn't.

"Nothing" is a series of extremely funny moments held together with wet string. Inspired collusion between the two leads brings moments of spontaneous laughter, but the weak connective dialogue leaves the supporting cast stranded.

Nick (Tim Robbins) and T (Martin Lawrence) meet in an uproariously unlikely encounter. After Nick catches his wife in bed with his boss, he drives slowly off to nowhere, his whole being engulfed in misery. At a red light, T jumps into the car for a simple bit of armed robbery. Nick, his soul just waiting for an excuse to explode, slams the accelerator to the floor and takes the mugger for the ride of his life.

The rest is Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence playing Thelma and Louise--without a good script. The gifted Mr. Robbins bursts out of Nick's pensive melancholy with beautifully timed verbal explosions. With his floppy boy scout hair and flapping pants legs, his Nick is a bumbling, would-be avenger hobbled by his own despair. Rage, after all, is not his natural state.

Martin Lawrence's T is a funny motor-mouth spewing forth a torrent of irrelevant invective in his impatience with the man who was supposed to roll over and play victim. Nick yells, "You picked the wrong man on the wrong day!"

Robbins and Lawrence are an accomplished comic pair, but their writers let them down too often. The movie is nearly destroyed by a superfluous subplot involving two deadly dull criminals, nearly saved by a security guard who unleashes the dance of his fantasy in the dark night of corporate headquarters. It's a loony, goofy film that should have been better than it is.

"Dream with the Fishes" pairs Terry, a suicidal neatnik, and Nick, a dying flamboyant, for an unexpectedly touching journey into friendship as each tries to keep the other alive by helping him indulge his fantasies. As fantasies go, these are small, but wild, and Nick is determined to cure Terry's timidity. If Nick has to die, by God he will make Terry want to live by blasting him out of his own limitations.

The orderly, beguilingly disheveled Terry (David Arquette) and the deceptively cool Nick (Brad Hunt) talk in the random, illogical thoughts of two people who have little time--a jumble of nothing, really--until we realize slowly that they have found the essence of friendship and, in doing so, have charmed us thoroughly. This movie, so full of poignant laughter, makes us wonder why we so seldom let anyone inside the boxes we build around ourselves when friendship can be so rich. Or is it that way only when you have nothing to lose?


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 495
Studio : Touchstone Pictures & 3 Ring Circus Films
Rating : R & R
Running Time: 1h37m & 1h36m


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