Ostensibly, “Senseless” is about what would happen if you took an experimental drug that heightened your senses. But what it’s really about is a guy who is obviously going to get the girl and win the contest but has to have obstacles placed in his way so the movie can last 85 minutes.
Marlon Wayans plays the guy and, without him, “Senseless” would be nothing. Wayans, the youngest of the 3 million Wayans actor/ comedians, is a physically agile performer, and he finds inventive ways to convey the idea that his character’s senses are out of whack. A scene in which he tears around a laboratory trying to relieve an itch is bust-a-gut funny.
But not funny enough for us to overlook the fact that “Senseless” is a low-budget rip-off of “The Nutty Professor,” minus the special effects. We’re supposed to think it’s a shame that Wayans’ side effects keep kicking in just when he’s trying to win the girl or compete for the big Wall Street job, but what we think instead is, “Why doesn’t he just tell these people that he’s acting weird because he took an experimental drug?”
The jokes in “Senseless,” such as they are, have to do with bodily functions and the kind of offensive stereotypes that even Don Rickles, God rest his career, would no longer try to get away with. Plus, the movie treats us to the spectacle of David Spade playing a suck-uppy college student, a role he is much too close to drawing Social Security to pull off. And it’s depressing to see the gifted Rip Torn wandering around, trying to pretend like he has a role to play.
Meanwhile, poor Wayans has to pretend that three, count ‘em, three “Jeffersons” jokes are funny. They’re not. They’re just senseless.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Senseless” Locations: East Sprague, North Division, Showboat Credits: Directed by Penelope Spheeris, starring Marlon Wayans, Matthew Lillard Running time: 1:29 Rating: R