Kevin: When it was released last summer, the Tupac Shakur biography “All Eyez on Me” (now currently available on HBO) likely hoped to be the next “Straight Outta Compton” in its portrayal of another influential and controversial hip-hop trailblazer. Instead it was more like the Robert Downey Jr.-starring “Chaplin,” in that both were anchored by charismatic lead performances, yet were hampered by depicting their unique and original artistic subjects through one of the laziest narrative devices known to cinema: the interviewer character who pops up every five minutes to set up another “here’s what happened in my life next” flashback.
In the case of “All Eyez on Me,” that character takes the form of a documentary filmmaker who interviews Shakur (Demetrius Shipp Jr.) from prison and artlessly moves us through each chronological event in his life through basic Wikipedia-level questions such as “So at the time, did you know that album would make you a star?” or “Do you think later on the role of Bishop somehow seeped into your personal life?” The latter refers to Shakur’s breakout role in the film “Juice,” but while “All Eyez on Me” does briefly touch on his burgeoning acting career before his death, it unfortunately omits his first and definitely weirdest cinematic appearance in “Nothing but Trouble,” Dan Aykroyd’s bizarre and disturbing 1991 “comedy”:
If you have never seen “Nothing but Trouble” then consider yourself lucky, and if you have seen it then you probably are still having nightmares about it. Those of us who caught it on cable back in the day probably assumed it was going to be an amusing romp due to a stacked cast of popular comedians including Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, John Candy, and, uh, Demi Moore, but instead what we got was a film that, a few attempts at comedy aside, was virtually indistinguishable from something like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” And if you think that is an exaggeration, “Nothing but Trouble” actually features a device called “Mr. Bonestripper,” which, yes, literally strips the bones from several characters before spitting them out onto a giant pile of body parts from previous victims. Hilarious, right?
The film even begins with a typical horror setup, as a couple played by Chase and Moore take a wrong turn during a road trip and find themselves trapped in a creepy abandoned town and eventually having to escape from a murderous psychopath, in this case the 106-year-old Judge Valkenheiser. Apparently Aykroyd decided his character wasn’t grotesque-looking enough, so his nose occasionally seems to turn into a penis because … well you’d have to ask Dan Aykroyd himself why he makes the choices he does:
The movie also features John Candy in dual roles as the head cop for the town and his sister, who looks exactly like John Candy but in a wig and dress, because that’s totally how genetics works. Meanwhile, in case you weren’t repulsed enough, Aykroyd also makes another appearance as one of the judge’s severely deformed and mentally challenged grandchildren, Bobo. When you look at this picture, try to remember that this was supposed to be a comedy that actual human beings would want to watch:
Now even though apparently everyone who is brought before the judge is sentenced to a horrible death at the hands of “Mr. Bonestripper,” there is one group of individuals who avoids this fate: Digital Underground! While “All Eyez on Me” briefly alludes to Tupac’s participation in “Nothing but Trouble” during his time with the alternative rap group, we unfortunately don’t get to see a re-enactment of the following scene in which they escape a death sentence after entertaining the judge with their performance of “Same Song”:
Not only is that one of the few scenes in “Nothing but Trouble” that’s safe to be viewed by children and pregnant women, but it also gives us our first glimpse at Tupac’s surprisingly strong acting chops as a guy who totally can’t believe Aykroyd’s mad skillz behind the organ (1:40 mark). Apparently the makers of “All Eyez on Me” didn’t think Tupac’s association with “Nothing but Trouble” was worth exploring in more detail during their two-and-a-half-hour movie, but anyone who has suffered through Aykroyd’s one and only stint in the director’s chair might welcome any additional exploration about what he was attempting and who he was making this unbelievably uncommercial and off-putting movie for. Although it’s still better than “Poetic Justice.”
In the meantime, while Tupac (or 2 Pac, as he was still known then) went on to more important things, let’s enjoy his contribution to the video for “Same Song,” which features numerous clips from “Nothing but Trouble,” as well as a cameo appearances by Aykroyd, Taylor Negron (a few months before his tour de force performance as Mr. Milo in “The Last Boy Scout”), Daniel Baldwin, and Dr. Dre and Eazy-E for some reason. Also, after watching it again for the first time in decades, holy shit would this video be considered majorly “problematic” in this day and age, considering how many cultures are “appropriated” during the course of it (including Aykroyd doing a great impersonation of what your grandfather would look like trying to act “gangsta” at the 1:58 mark):