Since Tim Allen is the most famous ex-convict ever to star on a popular, long-running family sitcom, it doesn’t seem entirely insane to expect 2010’s Crazy On The Outside—a little-seen, barely released comedy about the wacky travails of a man recently released from prison—to be personal or idiosyncratic, or at the least mark a tiny progression from Allen’s work on Home Improvement or the Santa Clause movies, especially since it also marks his long-non-awaited directorial debut. Those hopes die roughly three minutes into the film, as Allen spits out lazy, canned one-liners as his character leaves prison for the last time—just the first of many scenes that cry out silently for the approval of an overzealous laugh track.
In a performance that stretches his put-upon everyman persona by neither leaps nor bounds, Allen plays a recently released convict intent on going straight after doing a three-year bid in prison for video piracy. Allen’s determination to put his life back together and start his own painting business is tested by the reappearance of former partner-in-crime Ray Liotta, not to mention the frenzied sexual advances of his ex-girlfriend, an improbably model-gorgeous looker who has taken up with tycoon Kelsey Grammer.
Since deep down, every clown wants to be loved, the screenplay adds a sentimental romance with a single parole officer (Jeanne Tripplehorn) whose adorable moppet desperately needs a father figure, jailbird or not; cinema hasn’t witnessed such explosive anti-chemistry since Justin wooed Kelly via text messages. Tripplehorn and Kevin Costner’s surly pee-drinking man-fish from Waterworld were Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn compared to the tepid, depressing duo of Allen and Tripplehorn. Allen whizzes through the film on autopilot, intent on discovering just how little effort an actor can exert and still qualify as a leading man. Crazy On The Outside proves yet again that you can take the man out of the sitcom, but you can’t take the sitcom out of the man.
Key features: The slim extras include a gag reel and a brief making-of featurette.