Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

By Marc Savlov

DECEMBER 13, 1999: 

D: Mike Mitchell; with Rob Schneider, Norm McDonald, Arija Bareikis, Allen Covert, Oded Fehr, Eddie Griffin, Amy Poehler, Bree Turner. (R, 84 min.)

To paraphrase: If you put a rare tropical fish in a blender in Act One, you'd better make sure you're serving fish frappes by Act Three. Ah, the simple pleasures of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo ­ what would we do without them? Do you really want me to enumerate? I thought not. Mitchell's film would be another example of why former SNL cast members should choose their scripts wisely, except that Schneider wrote this one, so I guess the blame falls squarely on his shoulders. Sporadically funny but more often merely grating and gross in ways that make the Farrelly Brothers look like P.G. Wodehouse, Deuce Bigalow strives mightily to appeal to the four-year-old in all of us, and occasionally ­ very occasionally ­ succeeds. The rest of its 90-minute running time is a series of sub-Eddie Murphy fart jokes and bathroom humor (literally in several cases) that belies a weak comic imagination on the part of its creative team. Schneider, ever the 98-pound weasel, plays Deuce, an L.A.-based fish-tank cleaner who lucks his way into house-sitting for the high-price gigolo Andre La Conte (Bareikis) while he's off in Europe for two weeks. While trying out Andre's gravity boots one day, Deuce inadvertently destroys the gigolo's $6,000 handmade fish tank (as well as setting fire to his kitchen) and promptly assumes the man's identity (and profession) with the hope of raising the requisite cash flow to fix things up before Andre returns. From here on out, the film is a series of comic vignettes, with Deuce and his newfound pimp T.J. (Griffin in a woefully underwritten role) meeting up with various bizarre "dates." If you've seen the previews then you've seen most of these, uh, couplings already; if not, let's just say that lowbrow humor is clearly back in form in America. A subplot that has Deuce falling in love with the perky Turner, and another in which he's stalked by a penis-obsessed Vice Squad dick go nowhere fast but manage to give us a bit of respite from all the bad date gags. There's clever writing at work here, but not much. Schneider, whom I always liked on Fox's since-canceled Men Behaving Badly,is an acquired taste, much like buddy Norm McDonald, who appears in a brief cameo as an unctuous bartender. Director Mitchell's uninspired camerawork does little to bolster the sense of comedic anti-genius at work here, though by sheer blandness it does little to detract from it as well. I've always wanted to own a ferret, so watching the kinky-haired Schneider onscreen has been a kind of vicarious thrill for me for some time. I think, however, it's time to break down and buy the smaller home version.

1 Star

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