'Witless Protection' is truly witless

Roger Moore
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT)


1 star (out of 5)

Cast: Larry the Cable Guy, Jenny McCarthy,

Ivana Milicevic,Yaphet Kotto.

Director: Charles Robert Carner.

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Industry rating: PG-13

For "Witless Protection," the rubber gloves are off for a full-cavity-search Larry the Cable Guy comedy that's more lowbrow, raunchier and yet a lot more ambitious than his first two "films," "Health Inspector" and "Delta Farce."

"Witless" is so weird it's almost a cult film.

It's still dumber'n a family reunion in the cousins-can-marry belt. But at least we've got the real Larry, the crude, redneck bigot that comic Dan Whitney has ridden to fame and fortune, if not yet ridden to death.

Larry plays a Deep South deputy sheriff who wears his uniform with the sleeves torn off and keeps a possum in his glove compartment. All he wants is to be sheriff or an F.B.I. agent. For reasons having nothing to do with reality and everything to do with creating a plot, he chases down a "damsel in "DEE-stress" and snatches her from the men in black with black sunglasses driving a black Suburban.

But they're the real F.B.I. And the special agent in charge (Yaphet Kotto) isn't happy about it.

Larry resolves to escort this witness, the vivacious Madeline (Ivana Milicevic), to the Chicago trial, because something about those agents just ain't right.

"I know a criminal when I see one, a rat when I smell one and a bad moon when it rises," he drawls.

The case she's needed for is Enron-ish. There's a lot of money involved and a wealthy CEO wants her stopped.

Here's where the Cable Guy Cult thing comes in. They cast the great Swedish character actor Peter Stormare as the CEO and then let him try an upper-class British accent. They hired Eric Roberts as his flunky, and let Roberts come close to cracking up in scenes where Stormare ("Fargo") was flailing away at channeling Prince Charles after a bender.

Joe Mantegna shows up as an in-law of Larry's with the strangest Southern accent this side of Selma. That's a cult film giveaway - the serious actors treat it as a lark.

"Witless" gives Larry his first nude scene, not a pretty sight. He's carrying around so much weight that the only way to tell which side is his "butt gut" and which side his rear end is to check the bill on his Bass Pro Shops hat.

Jenny McCarthy plays his love interest, all cracker-speak and cleavage. She's a natural Ellie May to Larry's Jethro, keeping with the whole kissing-cousins comedy theme.

Larry has his moments mocking people of Middle Eastern, Asian and African-American descent. He trots out shots at "liberals" and celebrities - mostly in similes. How quickly are you getting out of your latest dilemma, Larry?

"Faster'n Angelina Jolie adopting African Pygmies!"

Milicevic's Madeline mocks his girth, his table manners, his bodily functions, his grammar and his "family tree straight out of `Deliverance.'"

There's a posh polo match for Larry to trash from the back of a horse, who has our sympathy, and a literal "china shop" for this comic bull to trash near the finale.

We also pause for an absolutely pointless, patronizing "We support our troops" parade so's Larry can pander to people he might've offended with his spoof-the-troops comedy "Delta Farce."

Larry is, of course, a character, and a character "type," so there's no sense getting offended when he confirms to Kotto's agent that something's true "in spades, nothing racialistic intended." And for all the crudity, "Witless" is better acted and better looking than his first two Blue Light-special movies. He never once says "Git'r done" in "Witless Protection."

But he's never far from the hog trough with this one, and the whole enterprise isn't funny enough to make "Witless'" title anything other than truth in advertising.





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