[Screen It]


(1998) (Norm MacDonald, Artie Lang) (PG-13)

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Comedy: An out of luck loser and his buddy start a revenge for hire business hoping to pay for a heart transplant for the buddy's father.
Mitch Weaver (NORM MACDONALD) has always been picked on throughout his life. To make matters worse, he's just lost yet another job and his girlfriend has kicked him out onto the street. With nowhere else to go, he asks his longtime buddy, Sam McKenna (ARTIE LANGE), if he can stay with him and his dad, Pops (JACK WARDEN). Realizing that the only thing they're good at is getting even with people who've wronged them -- a skill they've honed since their childhood -- Mitch and Sam open a revenge for hire business.

After starting out small, the two suddenly find themselves needing a big job to raise $50,000 for Pops who now needs a heart transplant. After having had them foul up one of his business plans, wealthy tycoon Travis Cole (CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD) hires the guys to get one of his buildings condemned. After learning that he's taken advantage of them, Mitch, Sam, and an assortment of others join forces to get revenge on Cole.

If they're fans of MacDonald (the former "news anchor" on TV's "Saturday Night Live") or of stupid comedies, they just might.
For crude sexual humor and language.
  • NORM MACDONALD and ARTIE LANG play two losers who decide to open a revenge for hire business that causes them to pull harmless pranks as well as destroy and deface property for money (and hopeful laughs).


    OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
    In what has to be one of the shortest, non-animated feature films to be released this decade, former "Saturday Night Live" performer Norm MacDonald follows a long tradition of cast members from that show who've made a go at moving up to the big screen. Of course, MacDonald isn't testing the cinematic waters with "SNL" as a fallback cushion should this effort prove less than successful. After all, NBC west coast honcho Don Ohlmeyer recently fired him from that program. Unfortunately, that and their repeated caustic barbs at each other makes for a much more interesting story than what's offered here.

    While most everyone has probably thought at some point in their lives that they'd like to get even with someone who "wronged" them in the past, this film has promise -- albeit limited promise. Even so, it essentially comes across as a lowest common denominator film that features a bland series of revenge vignettes that will probably appeal to fans of movies such as "Black Sheep" and "Tommy Boy." To everyone else, it offers a few laughs, but suffers from unoriginal, anemic writing, mediocre at best directing, and performances honed at the Institute of Caricature Acting (the I.C.A.).

    Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm not above laughing at dumb or bawdy humor. It's just that a little of this film's material goes a long way and most of it's unfortunately mundane. If your idea of big laughs comes from shots of dogs (or other animals) humping other dogs, a man speaking in a high voice after having his crotch squeezed, or jokes originating from brief pedophilic behavior or implied gang rape in jail, then this pic's for you.

    As directed by Bob Saget (yes, the former star of TV's "Full House" and host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," who makes his feature film directing debut with this movie) and written by Frank Sebastanio (a writer on TV's "Saturday Night Live") and Fred Wolf ("Black Sheep," cowriter of "Tommy Boy" and a former writer on "SNL"), the film offers just a bare bones plot upon which is hung a surprisingly boring series of revenge tactics. If you're going to make a film like this, the antics should be wildly inventive. Instead, Saget and company have delivered such imaginative feats like putting popcorn into car engines, planting dead and smelly fish throughout a home, and spraying paint on windows and walls. Now that's some funny stuff -- if you're in the fifth grade.

    Not surprisingly, the performances are on par with the script and aren't much more than cardboard characters. As the lead performer, Norm MacDonald has a certain charm and an okay deadpan pause that he uses effectively when not delivering occasionally funny one-liner wisecracks. Even so, it's not hard to see why "SNL" rarely allowed him to wander from his "Weekend Update" desk.

    The rest of the performers, including Artie Lang (the late night TV show "Mad TV") as Mitch's buddy, Jack Warden as a horny old man, and Christopher McDonald as a villainous tycoon, are mediocre, as are some smaller parts and cameos from the likes of Adam Sandler and John Goodman, although one with Gary Coleman (from the old TV show "Different Strokes") is quite funny. The late Chris Farley once again is wasted in yet another over acted role (that's supposed to elicit laughs from having part of his nose previously being bitten off by a prostitute) and Chevy Chase's movie career continues to plummet in his near humorless role as a gambling addicted surgeon.

    While I found a few bits to be funny, some in the audience laughed in hysterics, so I guess that one's reaction to the film will depend on their appetite for low brow, sophomoric humor (and repeated shots of MacDonald being tossed into a trash dumpster or repeatedly landing in a belly flop on the sidewalk). Even so, the laughter considerably trailed off during the second half in this mercifully short film. As Don Rickles asks MacDonald in the end credit outtakes about how he got to star in a film, you'll probably be asking yourself the same question. Unless you're a huge fan of MacDonald's wisecracking delivery, you'll probably want to skip this film. We give "Dirty Work" a 2 out of 10.

    Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs. Since it's a story about enacting revenge upon others, there are many bits of possible imitative behavior. Profanity is heavy due to the use of a few key words, and many sexual comments and related jokes are made (and we see several instances of cleavage along with one male bare butt during a "mooning" incident). Some slapstick style violence and punching also occurs, and is completely played for jokes. Since some teens may want to see this film, we suggest that you take a look through the content to make sure it's appropriate for them or for anyone else in your home.

  • Mitch and Sam drink beer in a bar, as do others.
  • Some frat guys drink in their frat house.
  • Jimmy (Chris Farley) drinks.
  • Mitch and Sam drink beer in Sam's house.
  • There's a brief joke about the "first guy who created crack (cocaine)."
  • A bearded woman (at a circus) carries a drink.
  • We briefly see what appear to be bags of cocaine in a drug dealer's briefcase.
  • Sam and Mitch celebrate a completed job by drinking beer.
  • Mitch and another man (Chris Farley) drink.
  • A man has an odd looking scar on the end of his nose (or where the end of his nose should be) from where a "whore bit it off..."
  • Although we don't see it, Sam urinates off the side of a building. We do see, however, an upset man who comes to the roof sopping wet in urine.
  • Having an allergic reaction to some food he ate, Mitch's face is all red, puffy and blistered- looking.
  • While we don't see any of it, we hear squishing sounds as Sam and Mitch walk through a blood- soaked area (after a gunfight that's also not seen).
  • Although neither bloody nor gory, some homeless guys walk through an opera house audience and ask "who farted" and then comment that it must have been them.
  • Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs.
  • Some may view Mitch and Sam's revenge behavior as having both, especially the more destructive versions of it.
  • A bully demands Mitch's milk money from him in a flashback.
  • An adult school crossing guard is noted for trying to grab children's butts and we see a few instances of that (some may see the film for having both for using that as an attempt at humor).
  • Mitch tries to tell a lie about being late in his delivering a pizza.
  • Viewers with strong religious convictions might be offended by a comment that is attributed to "that famous guy...you know, Jesus" about there being two types of people, those who are stomped on and those who do the stomping.
  • Likewise, there's a brief, comic hallucination that takes place in hell, complete with a devil (it's not scary, however).
  • A theater manager (Don Rickles) has both as he insults his employees and calls Sam "Tubby" and makes fun of his weight. He also briefly makes some mock "Arabic" sounds while imitating a Kuwaiti.
  • Cole has both for hiring the guys to do a job on some property that's not his, and then refuses to pay them.
  • A thief breaks Mitch's car window and steals the radio.
  • None.
  • Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs.
  • Handguns: As kids, Mitch and Sam plant handguns in a bully's desk to get him arrested.
  • Handguns/Machine guns/Chainsaw/Hand grenade: Used during a violent encounter between drug dealers and buyers (the guns are briefly seen, but we only hear the violence).
  • Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs.
  • Phrases: "Horny" and "Boned" (sexual), "Whore" (said many times), "Rat bastard," "Bastard" (said several times), "Jerk off" (noun), "Broads" (for women), "Pissing," "Piss," "Ass bite," "Tubby," "Screws," "Screw over," "Screwed up," and "Screwed" (all nonsexual), "You dummy," "Jerk," "Slut," "Idiot," "Sucks," "Balls" (testicles), "Fart," "Fruity," "Geez," and "Shut your cake hole."
  • As kids, Mitch and Sam plant handguns in a bully's desk to get him arrested.
  • We see a flashback to when Mitch took a Polaroid of a babysitter sitting on the toilet.
  • On several occasions the guys put popcorn kernels in car or bulldozer engines that cause the corn to pop.
  • Mitch's girlfriend throws all of his clothes from her place down into an alley.
  • Sam urinates off the top of a building into the alley below (not explicitly seen).
  • Sam "moons" people as he and Mitch drive by a movie line.
  • Sam calls some frat guys and tells them some fake police are in the neighborhood and then sends the real police to the frat house (that results in the frat guys getting arrested for hitting the cops).
  • Mitch and Sam break into a house and place dead fish throughout it (in the washing machine, in the beds, etc...).
  • Mitch and Sam enter a building and punch holes in the walls, knock down doors (and Mitch torches one with a torch), and spray paint the walls.
  • Mitch drops cherry bombs into a toilet causing water to explode from it.
  • None.
  • None.
  • A song contains the lyrics, "Pissing the night away..."
  • Due to some crowd noise, more than the following may be heard in the movie.
  • 1 use of the word "boned" as a substitute for the sexual use of the "f" word, 1 "s" word, 1 slang term for male genitals ("c*ck"), 1 slang term for breasts ("hooters"), 16 asses (1 used with "hole"), 8 craps, 7 hells, 4 S.O.B.'s, 2 damns, and 2 uses of "Good Lord," and 1 use each of "Lord," "God," and "Oh my God" as exclamations.
  • Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs.
  • Mitch looks at an old Polaroid of his babysitter sitting on the toilet and comments that the picture still makes him "horny."
  • Mitch's aunt shows some cleavage and then pulls his head into it as she consoles him.
  • A brief mention is made about a German shepherd being gay and we see it sexually mounting a Doberman. Later, we see a skunk doing the same to Cole's small pet dog.
  • Finding his girlfriend throwing all of his clothes out of her place, Mitch states, "Maybe you'd feel better after we had some dirty sex."
  • After Sam asks Pops how he's doing, he replies, "I'd be better if you brought me a whore." We then see that he's holding a magazine titled, "Impotent Old Men and Whores."
  • Ending a telephone call with some frat guys, Mitch tells them to get back to doing some "homoerotic" stuff.
  • Pops likes to watch an exercise show on TV that features two women in leotards doing some pelvic lifts and other similar movement.
  • Pops shows Mitch a picture in a locket (that we don't see) and Mitch states, "It's a picture of you and my mom...and you're having sex." Pops comments that they didn't have as many birth control methods then, "...like pulling out." Later seeing that locket, Sam asks his dad, "You cheated on Mom?" Pops replies, "No. She was in on it too. Who do you think took the picture?"
  • We see Sam's bare butt as he moons people as he and Mitch drive by a movie line.
  • To get back at a movie theater manager, Mitch plays a film, "Men In Black Who Like to Have Sex With Each Other," that contains male dialogue such as, "Yeah, we better have sex with each other...That alien looks like a hot guy. Yeah, we better have sex with him."
  • Mitch hires several prostitutes for one of his jobs (and tells them that it requires no sex), and the outfits they wear reveal some cleavage (here and in a later scene).
  • A bearded woman at a circus tells Mitch, "I'll be in my trailer if you want. Come and get it."
  • It's implied (for laughs) that several burly prisoners have sex with Mitch in jail (as Mitch talks about the possibility beforehand and then walks away from them, pulling up his pants).
  • Mitch and Sam make comments about them believing that Cole is "doing" his dog.
  • Pops shows Mitch some pictures in a photo album and comments, "That's your mom giving me a..." (Implying oral sex).
  • Sam is jealous of Mitch and comments that people like him and "...you don't have to pay for sex."
  • Learning that Sam is really his half-brother, Mitch comments on having unknowingly sneaked a peak at his own half-sister's (Sam's sister) underwear in elementary school. Sam then reminds him that he also had sex with her in the twelfth grade.
  • When asked if they're brothers, Sam comments, "Yeah, my dad boned his mom."
  • An opera singer shows some cleavage (to which Pops exclaims, "Get a load of that mountain range!").
  • Mitch comments into a tape recorder, "Note to self. Making love to blow up doll not as good as advertised."
  • One of Cole's assistant's hallucinates and imagines seeing a woman in sexy lingerie asking if he's ready for some "rough sex."
  • Pops says that he hopes the doctor can fix another part of his body and says, "It rhymes with c*ck."
  • A man (played by actor Chris Farley) smokes several times.
  • Sam smokes a few times.
  • People smoke in the background in a bar.
  • There's a very brief mention of Mitch's mother dying when he was a teen and that he never knew the identity of his father.
  • Seeking revenge on those who've wronged you in the past -- whether that's right or wrong, or in this case, funny.
  • That imitating the revenge behavior in this film probably won't be as funny in real life.
  • Being a goofy comedy, some of the material isn't meant to be taken at complete face value, but it still occurs.
  • After a bully demands Mitch's milk money from him in a flashback, we see a shot of Mitch being thrown into a trash dumpster. We later see several similar instances during the film.
  • We also see many shots of Mitch being tossed out onto the sidewalk from various buildings.
  • Mitch's girlfriend throws his popcorn machine from her balcony, causing it to crash on the street below.
  • Sam punches a frat guy while Mitch has a pool cue broken over him as the two get into a brief fight with more frat guys (resulting in Mitch being thrown through a glass window).
  • After Mitch calls some frat guys and tells them that some fake police are coming around, a frat member punches a real cop. We then see many cops using their batons to hit the frat guys. Mitch and Sam then show up and Sam punches a frat guy, as does Mitch who hurts his hand, and Sam then punches that guy.
  • Fleeing movie theater patrons run over the manager and step on him as they exit the lobby.
  • Pops grabs Mitch by the crotch warning him not to tell Sam some important info.
  • At a circus a bearded lady pushes a small person to the ground.
  • Some drug dealers and buyers get suspicious of each other and pull out their weapons. We then see Mitch and Sam's reactions to hearing a great deal of gunfire resulting in many deaths (although we don't see any violence or the aftermath).
  • Mitch and Sam enter a building and punch holes in the walls, knock down doors (and Mitch torches one with a torch), and spray paint on the walls.
  • A thief breaks Mitch's car window and steals the radio.
  • A man punches Sam in the gut.
  • Sam punches a man after he asks too many questions during their plan against Cole.
  • Ken Norton punches and knocks Gary Coleman to the canvas in a brief boxing ring scene.
  • People are knocked over as others run out of an opera house.
  • A man punches Cole in the gut. Cole then grabs Mitch and causes them to fall from a box seat onto an opera singer below them.

  • Reviewed June 11, 1998

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