Trial and Error

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: -1

Successful lawyer Charles Tuttle (Jeff Daniels) is about to be married to his boss' daughter when he's sent to a small Nevada town to handle a case. Con man Benny Gibbs (Rip Torn) has been offering genuine copper engravings of Abraham Lincoln for $17.99; when he receives the money, he mails his victims a penny. Struggling actor and best man Richard Rietti (Michael Richards) still wants to throw a bachelor party for Charles, so he surprises him in Nevada. Charles has too much to drink, gets injured in a bar fight and accidentally takes too many painkillers. Since it isn't possible for his friend to appear in court, Richard decides to act the part of lawyer, ask for a continuance and hand off the case to another lawyer. But the judge (Austin Pendleton) rejects the request and insists the trial begin. Richard must continue the masquerade or he'll be sent to jail and Charles will lose his job. They manage to avoid disaster for a while, as Richard delivers the lines Charles provides. But the actor complicates matters when he starts improvising, believing he can get his very guilty client acquitted, then a flustered Charles gets kicked out of court. Meanwhile, Charles is befriended by attractive waitress Billie (Charlize Theron) and gradually they fall in love. This romance provides a nice diversion from the comical courtroom scenes. An alcoholic evening is responsible for Charles' predicament, and Richard tries to help out with his courtroom impersonation. For a while he tries to get Gibbs declared innocent, but Richard eventually ensures that justice is served.

Although his wedding is just around the corner, Charles isn't too excited about getting married. He and Billie become romantically involved, and sex is implied as they are seen in bed together after the fact. Later his fiancee shows up unexpectedly and surprises him by appearing dressed only in revealing lingerie. Aside from these suggestive moments, the only other objectionable material in TRIAL AND ERROR is the language, particularly seven s-words and five regular profanities. These foul words, along with a promiscuous affair portrayed as acceptable, prevent us from recommending this clever comedy.

Preview Reviewer: Mark Perry
New Line Cinema, 888 7th Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10106

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (19) times - Mild 8, Moderate 11

Obscene Language: Many (11) times - s-word 7, other 4

Profanity: Many (10) times - Regular 5 (G 2, G-d 1, J 1, C 1), Exclamatory 5

Violence: Few times - Moderate (punch to face, man falls through ceiling, bloody nose, shotgun fired at targets)

Sex: Implied once (couple in bed)

Nudity: None; near nudity once (woman in lingerie)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (passionate kissing, inflatable doll)

Drugs: Several times (smoking, alcohol drinking, inadvertent painkiller overdose)

Other: Sounds of vomiting

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Teenagers and adults

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