Nothing to Lose is the prime example of what happens when a formula comedy runs out of gas. Absolutely nothing. No humor. No entertainment. The film just doesn’t go anywhere.
Tim Robbins is Nick Beam, an advertising executive who seems to have everything going his way. That is until he catches his wife (Kelly Preston) having an affair with his boss (Michael McKean). His world is so completely shaken up that he spends the rest of the day aimlessly driving through Los Angeles.
Enter Martin Lawrence as amateur carjacker T. Paul. He’s a frustrated black electronics expert who can’t make it in a white-controlled world. To make ends meet, he’s turned to a life of crime. But he makes a wrong move when he attempts to carjack the suicidal Nick, and ends up kidnapped himself, as Nick drives the two of them deep into the Arizona desert. At an Arizona diner, Nick realizes that he has “nothing to lose”, and decides to join T. Paul in a life of crime.
The conventions of the buddy film are well known, and Nothing To Lose does nothing to add a new spin. You have the two opposites who reluctantly work together (but who, of course, will bond by the end of the film). One’s a crazy-guy, and one’s a straight man (though Robbins and Lawrence flip-flop roles a couple of times in the film). They argue and fight all the time, but deep down you know they truly care for each other.
Robbins and Lawrence have a few funny bits here and there, but not as many as you’d think. In fact, the old adage is true, the best bits are all in the previews. Irma P. Hall has a memorable bit part as T. Paul’s slap-happy mother. Giancarlo Esposito and John C. McGinley are a more professional set of robbers on the road, but exist more as a convenience for the plot rather than actual characters.
Unfortunately, most of the humor in Nothing to Lose is forced, and not very funny. The few scenes that are humorous drown in a sea of blandness.