The film marks Aykroyd's sole directing credit.
While hosting a party in his Manhattan penthouse, financial publisher Chris Thorne (Chase) meets lawyer Diane Lightson (Moore) and agrees to escort her to consult a client in Atlantic City on the following day. Thorne's clients, obnoxious but wealthy Brazilian siblings Fausto and Renalda Squiriniszu, whom he calls "Brazillionaires", meet up with them and invite themselves along.
On the way, Chris takes a supposed scenic detour off of the New Jersey Turnpike, ultimately ending up in the run-down village of Valkenvania. Failing to comply with a stop sign and subsequently attempting to escape pursuing officer Dennis Valkenheiser (Candy), the group is captured and taken before Dennis's 106-year-old grandfather Judge Alvin Valkenheiser (Aykroyd), who confiscates their identification cards. After Chris makes too many smart-alecky remarks, the judge drops a trap door out from under them in order to hold the offenders in his courthouse/funhouse to be judged the next day. Later, some disrespectful drunk drivers that tried to threaten Dennis are called before the judge, who sentences them to immediate death at the hands of a deadly roller coaster nicknamed "Mr. Bonestripper".
Invited up to dinner, the group is repulsed by the bizarre food choices (involving a hot dog train and a warm can of Hawaiian punch) but also learns the Judge has labeled Chris as a "banker" for his financial affiliations, and is holding them there out of revenge for the Valkenheiser family's misfortune at the hands of a corrupt coal deal long before. The group attempts an escape, but due to a series of mishaps, Chris and Diane are overtaken by Alvin's mute granddaughter Eldona (also John Candy). Meanwhile, being chased by Dennis' trigger-happy cousin, Miss Purdah, the two Brazillionaires escape by cutting a deal with Dennis, who decides to escape with them.
The Judge is angered by their actions and imprisons Chris and Diane in a room from which the pair eventually escapes (again with help from Dennis) and getting lost through hidden hallways and slides, become separated. Diane makes it out of the house and into the property's salvage yard; here, she meets two troll-like creatures by the names of Bobo and Lil' Debbull, the judge's severely deformed grandchildren. Earning the creatures' friendship, Diane catches glimpses of Eldona destroying Chris's BMW 733i.
Meanwhile, Chris sneaks into the Judge's personal quarters but is quickly caught. Valkenheiser punishes him according to house policy, which decrees that Chris must marry Eldona. Meanwhile, in the court room, the alternative rap group Digital Underground is being held on charges of speeding, but the Judge releases them after being charmed by an impromptu performance of one of the group's hits. He also asks them to stay as witnesses for the wedding, which Chris reluctantly goes through with in exchange for his life, but is later caught pleading the band to help him escape. The band leaves without understanding him, and a furious Alvin sentences Chris to die in "Mr. Bonestripper". The machine breaks down the instant before Chris is fed into it, and he escapes. The Judge nearly kills Diane with another claw contraption, but Chris retrieves her at the last second and the two jump on a freight train back to New York.
After the two report their plight to the authorities, the Judge's courthouse is raided by local and state police. Chris and Diane are asked to accompany the officers to the site, only to find out that the officers involved are fully aware of and in league with the Judge. The couple escapes when the area's underground coal fires cause a collapse, destroying the town.
The Brazillionaires are shown to have made their way back to South America; Dennis is now their personal head of security and Renalda's lover. Chris and Diane are shown relaxing in New York. Chris's relief does not last, however, as he stumbles on a televised news segment covering the ruined town of Valkenvania, in which Valkenheiser, brandishing Chris's driver's license, announces that he and his family plan to move in with his new grandson-in-law in New York, saying "See you soon, Banker!". Chris runs away panicking while making a cartoon-style impression of himself through a wall.Chevy Chase as Chris Thorne
Demi Moore as Diane Lightson
John Candy as Dennis Valkenheiser, the Chief of Police/Eldona
Dan Aykroyd as Judge Alvin 'J.P' Valkenheiser/Bobo
Taylor Negron as Fausto Squiriniszu
Bertila Damas as Renalda Squiriniszu
Valri Bromfield as Officer "Miss" Priscilla Purdah
Digital Underground as themselves
The film's working title was Valkenvania and it was promoted under this title in a December 1990 Starlog article.
According to one biography, Chase "knew that the film was going to be the worst film he would ever make", but because of his friendship with Aykroyd, he accepted the role of Chris Thorne. Reflecting on the film some years later, it was noted as an "unfortunate turning point" in Aykroyd's career that, as the director, writer and star, left "only (Aykroyd) to blame for the film's spectacular failure".
The film's score was composed by Michael Kamen while Digital Underground contributed songs. AllMusic rated the soundtrack two and a half stars out of five.
- "The Good Life" - Ray Charles
- "Same Song" - Digital Underground with Tupac Shakur & Dan Aykroyd
- "Get Over" - Nick Scotti
- "Big Girls Don't Cry" - Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
- "Tie The Knot" - Digital Underground
- "Bonestripper" - Damn Yankees
- "Atlantic City (Is a Party Town)" - Elwood Blues Revue
- "La Chanka" - Bertila Damas
- "I Mean I Love You" - Hank Williams Jr.
- "Valkenvania Suite" - Michael Kamen
Nothing but Trouble received overwhelmingly negative reviews and was a box office bomb, earning about $8 million in the U.S. on an estimated budget of $40 million. It currently holds a 8% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 12 reviews, with a rating average of 2/10.
The film won the 1991 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor for Dan Aykroyd, and was nominated for five others: Worst Picture (which lost to Hudson Hawk), Worst Actress (Demi Moore, who lost to Sean Young for A Kiss Before Dying), Worst Supporting Actress (John Candy in drag, also lost to Sean Young for A Kiss Before Dying), Worst Director (Aykroyd, lost to Michael Lehmann for Hudson Hawk) and Worst Screenplay (also lost to Hudson Hawk).
The film was also nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Make-Up, where it lost to The Silence of the Lambs.