Witless Protection

Movie Information

The Story: A small-town deputy "rescues" a woman from kidnappers who are really FBI agents escorting her to a trial. The Lowdown: Witless is certainly an accurate assessment of this vile little paean to the simpleminded life.
Genre: Flatulence Farce
Director: Charles Robert Carner
Starring: Larry the Cable Guy, Ivana Milicevic, Yaphet Kotto, Jenny McCarthy, Eric Roberts, Peter Stormare
Rated: PG-13

While I was standing in line for Be Kind Rewind, a young fellow with a ball cap in the next line over spotted some acquaintances of his behind me and called out to them, “What’re you going to see?” “Larry the Cable Guy,” they responded. Making some indecipherable (to me) gesture of solidarity, he shouted back, “Hell, yeah!” Having been subjected to Mr. Cable Guy’s latest affront to the art of film, Witless Protection, the night before, I felt certain that two hours from that moment these same guys would be proclaiming the movie “funny as sh*t,” discussing Jenny McCarthy’s cup size (suggesting how they’d like to “git ‘r done”) and attempting to follow one of the film’s more educational moments by igniting their own gas. It’s heartening to see such traditional values being upheld and passed on thanks to Larry the Cable Guy.

Pandering to the lowest common denominator is nothing new. The movies have been doing that for as long there have been movies. These Larry the Cable Guy creations, however, are determined to actually lower the lowest common denominator—and encourage their target audience to take pride in willful ignorance and world-class gaucherie. After all, we all know that ignorance is preferable to education, stupidity trumps intelligence, basic social skills are a waste of time and believing something to be true clearly outweighs any actual knowledge on the subject. If this sounds suspiciously like the modus operandi of a certain world leader, that may go a long way toward explaining the cultural atmosphere in which a Larry the Cable Guy can flourish.

Having been subjected to all three Cable Guy outbursts of screen life (in none of which does our hero actually portray a cable guy), I have to say that Witless Protection is far and away the worst of the lot. Granted, this is a matter of relativity, on par with ranking the preferable nature of typhoid, yellow fever and a cholera epidemic, so as an observation it’s fairly worthless. But hey, so is Witless Protection.

This round we have Larry the Deputy Sheriff Guy, a gent with vague dreams of being an FBI agent, but who mostly just hangs out with his buddies. His friends specialize in not doing much of anything other than lighting their farts and his quasi-fiancée, Connie (Jenny McCarthy still milking that Playmate of the Year award for all it’s worth). All this changes when he mistakenly thinks some FBI agents—headed up by a properly embarrassed Yaphet Kotto—are kidnappers making off with a woman, Madeleine (Ivana Milicevic, Casino Royale). In reality, they’re taking her to testify against her former employer, Arthur Grimsley (Peter Stormare), but Larry “rescues” her anyway—and then comes to believe that the agents are “dirty.” Of course, he will turn out to be right, and he spends the rest of the movie mystifyingly outwitting the agents and other threats to save the day and prove that the only folks you can really trust are those with double-digit IQs and a raging contempt for the fundamentals of personal hygiene.

The plot, of course, scarcely matters. The whole movie is merely an excuse for the viewer to delight in the hilarity generated by Mr. Cable Guy breaking wind, vomiting, producing various gastric noises, rendering his foes unconscious with the stench of his feet and overpowering a roomful of Homeland Security agents with his lack of hygiene when they ill-advisedly attempt a body-cavity search on him. This is the state of comedy in the 21st century.

More frightening, though, is the idea that the character is actually admirable—because he’s presumably “good-hearted.” Well, yes, he’s “good-hearted” if you’re white, Southern, not liberal, uneducated and proud of it. Redemption, however, can be achieved as long as you realize that Larry the Boobus Americanus represents that which is best in us all. Personally, I’m satisfied to remain unredeemed. I look at Larry the Cable Guy and all I can think of is an old Peter Sellers line from his days on the radio’s The Goon Show: “I perceive, judging by your bearing, your manner and your dress, that you are an uncultured oaf.” This will undoubtedly get me pegged as a jaded elitist in some quarters. But I can live with that. Rated PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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21 thoughts on “Witless Protection

  1. Ken Hanke

    Tough call in terms of quality — both are cosmically God-awful — but I definitely find this more offensive.

    The only saving grace is that it has deservedly tanked big time, opening at no. 13. Considering it’s in 1333 theaters, while BE KIND REWIND is in 808 and BE KIND came in at a very respectable no. 7, I’d say this could mark the beginning of Larry the Direct-to-Video Guy.

    And, by the way, the fact that I didn’t palm this off on Justin proves that his charges of sadism on my part (for giving him STEP UP 2 THE STREETS) are ill-founded.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Seems to me I told you you could opt out. At the same time, compared with seeing Larry the Cable Guy naked, seeing Will Ferrell naked seems pretty tame.

    And, yes, I know I chose that picture. I saw no reason why those who didn’t have to sit through WITLESS PROTECTION should be spared, but…imagine that image 15 feet high.

  3. Justin Souther

    “…seeing Will Ferrell naked seems pretty tame.”

    Well at least I can take solace in that.

  4. Justin Souther

    Ken, are you going to look at pictures of Will Ferrell naked since I’m going to be subjected to it?

    It seems only fair.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Oh, that’s so old hat — seeing naked Ferrell — that it hardly seems like a threat. I’ll try to find one for your review on the website, though.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Alas, I could fine no bare Ferrell for you. The best I could come up with was Will Ferrell with a bear.

  7. Todd

    This film was worth seeing because it provided the opportunity to use “world-class gaucherie.” Great clump of words, that.

  8. “This film was worth seeing because it provided the opportunity to use “world-class gaucherie.” Great clump of words, that.”

    To quote the Onion AV Club after their review of this, “don’t watch this, even ironically.”

  9. Andrew

    Ken, I had an experience similar to yours at the ticket line. I finally saw Persepolis on its last day in El Paso. It was 5:10 on Thursday, so no crowds, but standing nearby was a boorish guy in a baseball cap talking on a cell-phone to a companion who was apparently going to join him. They hadn’t decided yet what to watch, so he kept asking the lone employee what each movie was about and parroting it into the phone (at one point netting the response “It’s pretty much like that Will Smith movie” about some unknown piece of cinema). When told Persepolis was a “French animated film with subtitles,” his response was “It’s garbage.” But upon hearing that Witless Protection had Larry the Cable Guy, he was instantly thrilled, excitedly relaying the information, and there’s little doubt what he wound up seeing.

    Also, to me “Git r’ done” as an alleged catch phrase ranks below Joe Penner’s “Wanna buy a duck?”

  10. Ken Hanke

    Sage advice from the Onion AV Club, though I’m presuming Todd meant it’s worth me sitting through the movie in order to get to use “world-class gaucherie” in the review. Not sure this indicates any plan on his part to see the thing.

  11. Ken Hanke

    “Also, to me ‘Git r’ done’ as an alleged catch phrase ranks below Joe Penner’s ‘Wanna buy a duck?'”

    And “Wanna buy a duck?” was nuthin’ to brag about.

    Spike Milligan — a pretty much certified comedic genis — performed an experiment on the BBC radio show he wrote and starred in with Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, THE GOON SHOW, back in the 1950s. Milligan was of the opinion that an audience could be conditioned to laugh at anything. To prove his point he took the completely unfunny phrase, “They have fallen in the water,” and started inserting it in the scripts — carefully adding a laugh-track during its initital uses. Soon, the canned laughter was unnecessary and he started building elaborate gags that were obviously leading to that phrase as the payoff, and audiences were convulsed with laughter merely anticipating the appearance of the catch-phrase. I suppose “Git ‘r done” is a similar — albeit cruder — example of Pavlovian response comedy. Of course, what makes Milligan’s experiment different is that it transformed into something that actually was funny in the increasingly clever ways he’d build up to the phrase.

    A peculiar sidenote to WITLESS PROTECTION: At no time in the film does he say “Git ‘r done.”

  12. Another good use of a catch phrase was in ROBOCOP. “I’d buy that for a dollar” made no sense but was in the fabric throughout the film.

  13. Steve

    I can’t belive “Nam Vet” hasn’t logged in to make some comment in praise of this movie, call Ken an elitist again, and make some bizzare scatalogical remark (which may or may not again impugn John Waters).

    Glad, but incredulous.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I’m starting to fear that some misfortune has befallen Nam Vet. I’ve not seen him around in some considerable time.

  15. Of course, what makes MilliganТs experiment different is that it transformed into something that actually was funny in the increasingly clever ways heТd build up to the phrase.

    He also said it in a silly voice.

  16. Ken Hanke

    He was also a lot smarter and inherently funny than Larry the Cable Bumpkin.

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