'Trouble' gets lost somewhere on the N.J. Turnpike

February 18, 1991|By Vincent Canby | Vincent Canby,New York Times News Service

Dan Aykroyd wrote the screenplay for, co-stars in and make his debut as a movie director with "Nothing But Trouble," a charmless feature-length joke about the world's most elaborate speed trap.

It's somewhere off the New Jersey Turnpike, a place called Valkenvania, presided over by an ancient justice of the peace named Alvin Valkenheiser (Mr. Aykroyd).

The movie is about the one wild night spent in Valkenheiser's dungeons by Chevy Chase, Demi Moore and other unlucky motorists, all arrested by the Valkenvania sheriff (John Candy).

Most of the gags in the movie are visual. The J.P. lives and works in an old Gothic mansion set in the middle of a vast dump, resting atop an abandoned and burning coal mine. Yet the movie looks less funny than expensive. These sorts of sets cost a lot of money.

The house is full of secret doors, trap doors and hidden elevators, most of which lead to the variation on a fun-house ride by which Valkenheiser gets rid of his victims.

Mr. Chase and Ms. Moore spend a great deal of time being either furious or frantic. Mr. Aykroyd, who also plays his own grandson, a hairless mutant, is completely hidden under special makeup in each role. Of the stars, only Mr. Candy is remotely comic, both as the sheriff and as Valkenheiser's large amorous granddaughter, a mechanic by trade.

Mr. Aykroyd's screenplay is an accumulation of loose narrative ends and lines that don't even cheer when they are thrown

away.

The film is rated PG-13.

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