Jack Nicholson fans should feel cheated by Man Trouble, an insultingly trivial star vehicle.
Nicholson portrays a dog trainer who meets opera singer Ellen Barkin when she needs a guard dog after a break-in and other harassment. In a screenplay resembling stage farce rather than a movie, scripter Carole Eastman drags in several pointless subplots. Main one concerns Beverly D’Angelo, who’s penned a tell-all book about her relationship with reclusive billionaire Harry Dean Stanton. Barkin is getting divorced from her conductor/husband David Clennon and has been threatened by some homicidal thug who may be the notorious local slasher.
None of this adds up to entertainment or even momentarily involving escapism, as the romantic comedy/thriller genre, typified by Charade or Foul Play, seems beyond the filmmakers’ combined grasp. Instead there’s strenuously overacted comic set-pieces, most of which fail.
Barkin is saddled with completely unnatural dialogue as well as some overdone physical shtick that seems left over from her last comedy, Switch. D’Angelo steals a couple of scenes as Barkin’s sister.