Matthew Broderick sinks with the ship in “Out on a Limb,” a moronic comedy that leads the pack as worst film of the year so far.
In a very unwise career choice, Broderick stars in what’s usually the Michael J. Fox role: a fish-out-of-water yuppie. Planning to finalize a $ 140 million company takeover over the weekend, he’s drawn instead to the small California town of Buzzsaw to rescue his young sister Marci (Courtney Peldon) from the clutches of a mad villain played by Jeffrey Jones.
Evidently rewritten and reshot repeatedly, film makes no sense and develops not an iota of credibility. It’s crudely framed as a “How I spent my summer vacation” tall tale told in school by Peldon, despite the fact that she’s not present for 99% of the incidents she narrates in such great detail.
In the release version, the leading lady, played by Heidi Kling, is never given a character. Made up with red curly hair like a refugee from a 15 -years-after reunion of stage “Annies,” Kling enters the film on the run, kidnaps and torments Broderick for several reels and finally wins him romantically, with no explanation of who she is or why she’s running.
Intervening segments consist of well-staged but pointless car chases and stunts from second-unit director Glenn Randall Jr., as well as a boring story of Jones playing demented twin brothers who make John Lithgow in “Raising Cain” seem like a nice guy.
One twin is the mayor of Buzzsaw, who happens to be Broderick and Peldon’s stepdad. The other is just out of prison after a 15-year-stretch, with revenge on his mind.
The screenwriters are twins Joshua and Daniel Goldin, who, besides creating the Jones twins, overemphasize a tedious running gag involving imbecilic, inbred hick brothers, both named Jim, whose slapstick is crucial to keeping the pot boiling.
The plot complications include that old wheeze of a corpse mistaken for a still-living drunk and Broderick’s missing wallet containing a vital phone number.
Broderick struggles to keep his poise in this shambles and is not aided by being saddled with an extended hitchhiking nude scene after Kling steals his BMW and clothing.
Kling deserves another shot with some material to work with, while young Peldon proves to be a precocious scene stealer.
Director Francis Veber, known for his hit French farces, is out of luck here. Tech credits are adequate but, except for the stunts, give no indication of a big-budget film.