Man Trouble Recap


Man Trouble aired on TV on January 11th, 1997… but you had plenty of time to throw on Citizen Kane that day because, guess what? You had already watched Man Trouble in theaters five years earlier. “Been there, done that,” you think, recalling the stunning advertising scheme that launched you directly from your couch into the nearby cineplex:

Jack Nicholson and Ellen Barkin are the funniest AND sexiest couple of the summer? Sign me up, you thought. ‘Funny’ and ‘Sexy’ are the two words you immediately associated with Jack Nicholson and you couldn’t wait to see it sizzle on screen with EBark. Lo your disappointment when you learned that it was merely the second funniest and sexiest couple of the summer. That’s because it’s the summer of Universal Soldier, where JCVD and Dolph Lungren do some sizzling of their own. A sizzle so hot that Jack and EBark never stood a chance.

To recap, Ellen Barkin is a recently single opera singer who gets scared living alone following a break-in at her apartment. She asks to move in with her kooky sister, but she’s off for some surgery/rehab. She still moves into her sister’s house but begins looking for protection. Enter Jack Nicholson, an unpleasant, married, mildly racist owner of a floundering guard dog service. He’s happy to sell her a dog, nevermind that he doesn’t technically own the dog. Barkin is loving how ferocious this dog is, but still is quite spooked when she continues to receive creepy messages at the house and is even attacked by a masked man. Meanwhile Jack is approached by representatives from Barkin’s sister’s powerfully rich ex-boyfriend offering to pay him cash to steal an explosive memoir the sister is writing. Jack is hesitant because he kind of likes Barkin, but still takes the check cause he’s broke and is going to lose his business. After some steamy dates and some hot and heavy make-out sessions with Barkin, Jack ends up half-heartedly looking for the memoir, but drops it when he finds a gift that Barkin has bought for him. When Barkin gets a call from her sister claiming to have been taken prisoner by her ex, Barkin and Jack head out to find her. They end up saving her, but the ex reveals Jack’s falsehoods which ends their relationship. Later, Barkin is at practice with the symphony and gets a ride with one of her friends. Luckily Jack is following because what seemed to be a platonic male friend turns out to be the very person who has been terrorizing her! He’s been harboring resentment that she never liked him because of how much of a loser he is and now is ready to take it out on her. Not so fast! Here comes Jack and they battle it out. Having saved the day, Jack smooches Barken and they live happily ever after. THE END.

I’m not sure what happened here. You can see the skeleton of a film that delivers on what it appears to be selling: Jack Nicholson is a con artist of sorts who to cover his debts is convinced to gain the confidence of a woman so he can steal something of value. He begins to take advantage, but then unexpectedly finds that he’s catching some feelings (as the kids say) and then has to somehow unravel his own scheme. But most of what I just laid out appears to have been sanded away before production. Jack’s character is a bad person for sure, but also seems to be an actually good dog trainer who is trying to make an honest buck after striking out on his own. He is pretty much into Barkin from the jump, and she’s into him, and he helps her a bunch. He’s not even a con man as far as we can tell. If anything he seems more like a sad person who unexpectedly finds love. The tone is wildly off as a result of whatever they did to change the plot. It seems like it was meant to be a satire of romantic comedies with all kinds of jagged edges… but then they tried to turn it into a stereotypical rom com. The result is not funny and not sexy. It is well acted, though. That about sums it up.

Hot Take Clam Bake! Jack is in for a world of hurt with this relationship. First of all he’s already proven himself untrustworthy. Barkin knows he was married the whole time they knew each other and that is no bueno. Second, he’s lost his business which was already failing. Why was it failing? Because he has no business sense. So why did he own a business? Because he clearly was a great trainer, but had problems with authority. Methinks this dude is going to be unemployed for quite a while. Third, so why is Barkin going to hang around an unemployed liar? They must have a lot in common, right?… right?! Nope. Nothing in common. He’s a bore. She is an opera singer who loves literature. So now she has an unemployed, uninteresting liar bumming around her house. This relationship is lasting a month tops and then he’s out on his ass… unless Man Trouble 2: More Trouble. Jack starts to terrorize Barkin himself to get that magic back. Now that’s a con man! Hot Take Temperature: Original Sin. 



‘Ello everyone! Man Trouble? More like Won’t Chuckle! Amirite? A Jack Nicholson rom com I’ve never heard of where he plays a huge piece of garbage? Sign me up! Let’s go!

Read about the sequel Man Trouble 2: Cyber in the Quiz. Cheerios,

The Sklogs


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