[Screen It]

(1999) (Rob Schneider, Arija Bareikis) (R)

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Comedy: After wrecking the house of a dangerous gigolo for whom he's house sitting, a small-time loser must take to servicing women to pay for the repairs.
Deuce Bigalow (ROB SCHNEIDER) is a fish tank cleaner who's having the worst day of his life. Not only had he just lost his job at the Los Angeles aquarium and been turned down once again by the buxom lady at the pet fish store, but he's just spotted Antoine Laconte (ODED FEHR), a dashing and debonair playboy who seemingly has everything Deuce doesn't: a place on the beach, a fast car and a sexy woman on his arm.

Deuce never imagines he'll be like Antoine, but when the playboy saves him from a "dangerous" pond- dwelling creature, he gets his chance. Proving that he knows about Antoine's exotic and very expensive fish, Deuce inspires enough confidence in Antoine that the professional gigolo asks him to house sit for him while he travels to Europe for several weeks of business.

Although reluctant, Deuce agrees, but disaster quickly strikes in form of a series of accidents that wreck Antoine's place, including his custom made and very expensive aquarium. Things get worse when T.J. Hicks (EDDIE GRIFFIN), a pimp and associate of Antoine's, shows up and informs Deuce that Antoine has a bad temper and will flip out upon seeing what Deuce has done with his place.

Sensing a business opportunity and seeing that Deuce needs to make some money to repair the damages, T.J. sets up Deuce as a low-end gigolo, to service women on a lower budget. Deuce reluctantly agrees and thus starts to see a variety of women, including the Jabba Lady (BIG BOY), an extremely obese "woman" and Ruth (AMY POEHLER), a woman suffering from Tourette's syndrome, along with a chronically narcoleptic woman and another suffering from gigantism.

It's Kate (ARIJA BAREIKIS), however, who steals Deuce's heart. A young woman set up on a blind date by her friends, the two quickly hit it off and become an item, going so far as to have her meet Deuce's dad, Bob Bigalow (RICHARD RIEHLE), a well-dressed bathroom attendant.

Nevertheless, Deuce finds himself in a race against time to earn enough money to fix Antoine's place before the gigolo comes home. In doing so, he must also deal with Detective Chuck Fowler (WILLIAM FORSYTHE), a steely cop who wants to bust Deuce, T.J. and Antoine if he can just catch them in the act.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the theaters, thinking the lowest common denominator, scatological based, low brow comedies had waned with the last summer sunset, along comes "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo." Of course the title, while oddly redundant beyond giving each side of it the proper four note cadence -- clearly indicates that this film was never intended to be in consideration for this year's Oscar run.

Some of those types of movies have their place -- and obviously an audience considering the immense grosses of films such as "There's Something About Mary" and "Big Daddy" -- and if done properly can be something of a guilty pleasure for those who don't necessarily fall into the picture's targeted demographic. On the other hand, they can just as readily be quite bad and far more annoying than pleasurable.

Such is the case with this film, a one-note, multi-body function flick that repeatedly elicits what many probably hoped was a soon to be forgotten and/or abandoned source of comedy. As helmed by novice director Mike Mitchell, who works from a script by lead actor Rob Schneider and Harris Goldberg ("D3: The Mighty Ducks," "I'll Be Home For Christmas"), the film delivers the prerequisite, below the belt material in full force.

From many instances of full fledged, aurally correct bathroom "humor," to butt waxing, mouth drooling and eating food that the non-homeless, non-scavengers of us would normally throw away, the film offers enough such material to please "connoisseurs" of that genre.

Throw in derogatory and stereotypical jokes/material about the obese, the tall, the blind, and those missing limbs and you've got yourself some high art sure to get some teen and twenty-something viewers in a titter. At our preview screening those who fell into that group often roared with laughter, while the rest of us sat in silence and a good number actually got up and walked out.

To be fair, the film does have a few funny moments, as well as two clever parodies of the slow-motion, fight gymnastics of "The Matrix" that probably elicited the biggest overall laughs. Yet the rest of the material and the overall film is extremely uneven, including the beginning that abruptly starts and then proceeds in a herky-jerky fashion without much regard to whether any of it makes any sense or interests the audience.

Of course, the plot is nothing more than a skeleton upon which to hang the gross-out jokes, and it simply follows the old gag of a guy screwing up, needing money in a set period of time and then finding some unique -- and hopefully comical -- way of making it. Along the way there are the obligatory music montages and moments that are supposed to be touching in a romantic comedy fashion, but instead come off more lame and uninspired.

The same holds true for most of the performances. While roles in such films clearly aren't designed to rise much above the quality of the plot, they need to be cleverly constructed and filled with the right performers to pull them off and thus benefit the film. Such was the case with "There's Something About Mary."

Sadly that doesn't happen here. Rob Schneider ("Big Daddy," "Demolition Man"), like David Spade, is decent in comic supporting roles, but simply can't carry a picture and that immediately derails this one. Best known as the office worker on TV's "Saturday Night Live" who abused people's names ("Rob...the Robster...Rob...the Robmeister"), Schneider is a decent comedian, but he neither makes his character here funny nor sympathetic enough to engage the audience. While the big joke is that Schneider's character is about as far removed from the likes of Richard Gere (in "American Gigolo") in looks and demeanor, the film never truly exploits that notion to its fullest extent.

For the most part, the supporting roles go downhill from there. Although Eddie Griffin ("Foolish," "Armageddon") generates some laughs as Deuce's pimp, William Forsythe ("Blue Streak," "The Rock") is nothing but annoying as an "in your face" cop. Meanwhile, Oded Fehr ("The Mummy") and Arija Bareikis ("The Myth of Fingerprints," the upcoming "Snow Falling on Cedars") can't do anything with their underwritten characters.

Simply put, if you're a big fan of gross-out and bodily-based humor, you may find this film to your liking (and for those who do, not surprisingly, actor Adam Sandler is one of the film's executive producers). While I'll admit to having enjoyed some dumb comedies in the past and not being above laughing at such material, I think it's probably run its course, at least for now, and this film certainly doesn't do much more than recycle such old material in a less than inspired fashion. As such, the only sporadically funny and otherwise rather bad "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" only rates as a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed December 7, 1999 / Posted December 10, 1999

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