Trial and Error

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Cast: Michael Richards, Jeff Daniels, Charlize Theron, Jessica Steen, Austin Pendleton, Rip Torn, Alexandra Wentworth, Jennifer Coolidge, Lawrence Pressman, Dale Dye, Max Casella, McNally Sagal, Kenneth White, Keith Mills, Zaid Farid, Rachel Winfree, Ken Magee, Michelle Bonilla

Charles Tuttle (Daniels) is a lawyer about to get married to socialite girlfriend Tiffany (Wentworth) when his boss and future father-in-law sends him to Paradise Bluff, Nevada, on a routine but important assignment. Charles is incapacitated during a bachelor party, just prior to his scheduled court appearance to defend a relative of his boss. His buddy, Richard Rietti (Richards), an unemployed actor, takes his place at court for what is supposed to be a 5 minute appearance to obtain a continuance. But the attractive prosecutor, Elizabeth Gardner (Steen), wants to move on with the case and Richard doesn’t know the proper legal terms to use in opposing Elizabeth’s motion. Judge Paul Graff (Pendleton) agrees with Elizabeth’s request to deny the continuance, committing the substitute lawyer to participate in the trial. The real lawyer, Charles, enjoys cute waitress Billie Tyler’s (Theron) company during his recovery, only to later find that his friend’s errors in court force a continued role as his doppelganger. Since Richard has assumed the defense lawyer’s identity at the trial, Charles is forced to give Richard a crash course in law. The trial concerns a legal action against con man Benjamin Gibbs (Torn), who has swindled countless gullible unfortunates with a scheme involving the sale of pennies as prized collectibles. When Charles is ejected from the courtroom by a confused and irate Judge Graff, he is forced to convey legal motions via code to Richard. Despite continued courtroom battles and his bizarre legal moves, Richard develops a relationship with Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Charles, with his law career and impending wedding in a downward spiral, finds solace in the company of Billie, who has an eccentric but positive take on life. The courtroom scenes are absolutely hilarious, as are the off-courtroom romantic entanglements of both friends.

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