Man Trouble

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Man Trouble
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBob Rafelson
Produced byVittorio Cecchi Gori
Carole Eastman
Bruce Gilbert
Written byCarole Eastman
Music byGeorges Delerue
CinematographyStephen H. Burum
Edited byWilliam Steinkamp
Penta Pictures
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
July 17, 1992
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million[1]
Box office$4,096,030[2]

Man Trouble is a 1992 romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Ellen Barkin.[3] It was directed by Bob Rafelson and written by Carole Eastman, who together had been responsible for 1970's Five Easy Pieces.[3]

The film is the fifth collaboration between Nicholson and Rafelson. Beverly D'Angelo and Harry Dean Stanton co-star.[3]


Harry Bliss (Nicholson) runs a guard dog service and is going through counseling with his wife, Adele (Lauren Tom). A serial killer is on the loose in Los Angeles, so when the apartment of classical singer Joan Spruance (Barkin) is ransacked and she starts receiving threatening phone messages, Joan moves into the Hollywood Hills home of her sister, Andy (D'Angelo).

Joan doesn't feel safe there, either, because she's harassed by Andy's ex-lovers. She hires a guard dog from Harry's company, and soon Harry is providing more than protection for the beautiful singer.

Harry is a natural-born liar who, because of his profession, feels that he lives by a code of honor — even if he can't quite explain it — as one thing after another spins out of his control. Joan is soft and vulnerable as she is badgered by her conductor husband, harassed by unknown callers, menaced by men from her sister's past, and "helped" by Harry.



Critical reception[edit]

Man Trouble was not well received by the majority of critics. It currently holds a 7% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 30 reviews.[4]

The New York Times review said "Not much about "Man Trouble," a sad mess of a romantic comedy directed by Bob Rafelson, written by Carole Eastman and starring Jack Nicholson, suggests that these three collaborated on one of the most haunting and representative films of another day."[3]

Variety's review said that "Jack Nicholson fans should feel cheated by Man Trouble, an insultingly trivial star vehicle. After some initial business attracted by his name on the marquee, film is fated for pay-cable use."[5]

Film Four's review stated: "Sold on the proven teamwork of director Rafelson and actor Nicholson -- who had previously worked together on Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens and The Postman Always Rings Twice -- this romantic comedy proved to be one of their least inspired collaborations. Nicholson plays a grouchy dog-trainer who slowly loosens up in the presence of romantically challenged opera singer Barkin, who needs to get some canine security after a series of death threats. Obviously intended to be a bright and breezy romantic-comedy thriller, it ends up a mangy old mutt of a movie thanks to a charmless script and disastrous casting decisions."[citation needed]

According to Time Out magazine: "The trouble is, the film never seems to know where it's headed. Not quite a romance, a thriller or a comedy, it's a movie with an on-going identity crisis. Barkin, playing against type, produces a shrill caricature of femininity, while Rafelson indulges Nicholson's familiar soft-spoken laxity, another of his personable rogues."[citation needed]

Jack Nicholson earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actor for his performances in both this film and Hoffa, but lost the trophy to Sylvester Stallone for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The film opened in 1,004 theatres and grossed $2,034,475 in its opening weekend.[2] It grossed 67% less the following weekend[2] and was pulled from theatres shortly thereafter with a gross of only $4 million.[1][2]

With a budget of $30 million, including almost $8 million paid to Nicholson, the film made a loss for Pentamerica, their second consecutive box-office bomb after Folks!.[1] Fox expected to recover their $8 million marketing expenses.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Pentamerica to take big hit on 'Trouble'". Variety. 10 August 1992. p. 14.
  2. ^ a b c d Man Trouble at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ a b c d Maslin, Janet (18 July 1992). "Man Trouble (1992) Review/Film; Romance, It Seems, Is for the Dogs". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Man Trouble". Rotten Tomatoes.
  5. ^ Cohn, Lawrence (20 July 1992). "Film Reviews: Man Trouble". Daily Variety. p. 2. Retrieved 13 January 2020.

External links[edit]