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Trial And Error Review

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★★★★

Rarely has a film been more aptly titled. It's (notionally) about a trial and (fundamentally) an error of the kind that could bring careers to a crashing halt. After peaking briefly with My Cousin Vinny, Trial And Error sees Brit helmer Jonathan Lynn's career resume the greasy skids that took him from the groundbreaking hilarity of TV's Yes Minister to last year's dreadful Sgt. Bilko via Nuns On The Run. Lynn can only console himself that he has succeeded in inventing a whole new genre: comedy that you don't get to laugh at.

High-flying attorney Charles Tuttle (Daniels) is sent away on the day of his bachelor party - he is to marry the boss' daughter - to Nowheresville, Nevada to delay the trial of a future in-law (Rip Torn) on a charge for fraudulently selling pennies as $17.99 "engravings" of Abraham Lincoln. Meanwhile, Tuttle's best man, struggling actor Richard Rietti (Michael Richards, a.k.a. Kramer from TV's Seinfeld), gets to Nowheresville to arrange an alternative batchelor party. Cue: one groom with the hangover from hell and a best man standing in for him in court, where a legal formality forces him to "play" his lawyer buddy for a whole trial.

There is scope here for laughs aplenty, and who knows, perhaps there were some in the script, but up there on the screen: zilch. Daniels proved with Dumb And Dumber that he can be hilarious but here Lynn has him playing a way-too-straight second fiddle to a way-too-ordinary Richards and the romantic subplot - stand-in attorney falls for prosecution attorney (Jessica Steen) groom-to-be falls for waitress-cum-maid (Theron) is so first base it beggars belief.

On the plus side, there is the impressive Theron (last seen in Two Days In The Valley and That Thing You Do!) whose cheery beatnik vibe can save Daniels but not the film - and the stunning Nevada backdrops. Otherwise, avoid.

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