by David Cornelius
We reach a point early in “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” in which Rob Schneider carries a prosthetic leg onto an airplane, and inevitably winds up slapping every single passenger in the face with its plastic foot. I began to think about the Three Stooges here. Had Moe been smacking Larry around with a fake leg, chances are pretty good that the gag would at the very least produce a small handful of giggles. There’s a brilliant doctoral thesis for you: explain why those guys could make such a hackneyed sight gag work, when it fails so spectacularly in the arms of Schneider.And it is one of the lesser failures of the film. “European Gigolo” is a sequel to the 1999 “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” which was a minor hit despite its unforgiving shellacking dealt to it by critics and more discriminating viewers. All I remember about it is that it wasn’t as bad as everyone said, but boy howdy, was it pretty bad. (I marvel at its title, however; what other kind of gigolo is there, if not male?) Anyway, I’m pretty certain in my hazy memory that it was nowhere near as unwatchable as “European Gigolo,” a movie so inept in its grabs at comedy that you’d feel sorry for those who made it, if not for the fact that the entire thing is disgustingly, unforgivably vile.
"The star nobody likes in the movie nobody wanted to see!"
How vile? Well, it’s 82 minutes of rampant misogyny and homophobia, peppered with occasional fits of toilet humor even the most obnoxious ten-year-old would find unfunny. Here we have a movie in which Eddie Griffin drops french fries into a toilet, fishes them out, and eats them - and, because this is not enough, he promptly gets bitten on the testicles by a crazed house cat. In case you weren’t reading closely enough, I will underline the point that this all happens in the same scene, and it is a scene that has nothing to do with anything that happens anywhere else in the film.
Griffin (a star so unbearable that I grow impatient for the day where he no longer gets to be in movies), for those keeping score, returns as Deuce’s pimp, TJ, now living it up in Amsterdam - the only place in Europe we get to see, despite a title (and a movie poster) that promises country-hopping wackiness. It seems somebody’s killing the great gigolos of Europe, and soon Deuce and TJ are embroiled in the mystery. This being a Rob Schneider movie, the mystery is not that complicated or involving. But we do get a running gag in which TJ insists he isn’t gay, even though he keeps getting stuck in situations where bystanders might assume he was. Because that’s never been done for comic purposes before.
As with the previous film, Deuce spends a good chunk of his time dating women that can best be described as freaks. Ooh, look! One’s really big! Another is a hunchback! Look at Big Ears! And hey, what’s up, Massive-Tracheotomy-Hole-In-Throat?
There is a bit of creativity with one special character, someone who avoids the cheap, clichéd yuks of Big Ears and Very Tall Lady. This character is Woman-With-A-Penis-For-A-Nose. This deformity is hidden under a veil at all times, although we do get to see what happens when she gets aroused (and, to the dismay of all, when she sneezes). If you’re wondering how something so inventive in its terribleness snuck into a film so dependent on hackneyed set-ups and stale pay-offs, I’ll inform you that she got the condition from Chernobyl. Because nothing gets a joke rolling more than a punchline left over from the Reagan administration.
And there’s more! Deuce gets to fall for a woman with OCD, although the screenplay (from Schneider, David Garrett, and Jason Ward - the latter two wrote the unwatchable “Corky Romano”) either knows nothing about how OCD works, or it thinks it’s riotous enough that it doesn’t matter. Here’s the writers’ idea of hilarity: if the character hears someone sneeze, her OCD requires her to slap herself in the head three times. If, on the other hand, she hears an accordion being played, she furiously sniffs her fingers.
It takes a special kind of genius to come up with such daring comedic situations as this. Such masterful wit could only come from someone who could turn a guy who sits around making up lame nicknames into a recurring character on a late night variety show.
But I promised myself I wouldn’t make fun of Schneider. After all, I like the guy. He’s always entertaining on talk shows, he does one mean Elvis impersonation, and he seems like a decent fellow. As a writer and a performer, however, he’s inexcusably lazy. His movies are cheap one-note affairs that look like they’ve been slapped together as quickly as possible. His cameos in other movies (OK, in Adam Sandler movies, because only his pals seem willing to hire the guy) have the opposite effect of what a cameo should do - instead of “cool, it’s that guy!,” we get “aw, crap, it’s that guy.” His ideas are the kind of things producers might greenlight during a coke binge, pitches given in ten words or less, scripts written without bothering to expand beyond those ten words.And now we have “European Gigolo,” the worst of them all. Lazy, lazy, lazy. Schneider refuses to go beyond the cheap, easy joke, and all around him seem willing to put forth as little effort as possible to still create a feature-length motion picture. (And even here, he slacks: at a scant 82 minutes, it’s barely a movie.) The only ones doing any work around here are the crew members, and the idea of professionals toiling weeks, if not months, over something so outrageously underplanned makes me laugh longer and harder than anything the movie itself has to offer.
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originally posted: 11/28/05 15:02:39