Ugh. The first film in this series and I want to throw the idea in the garbage and make sure to never go back. But a promise is a promise, and I can’t help but stick to what I said I was going to do. Even if it wasn’t a week after I had said (it’s actually been almost a month to the day), I decided to sit down and finally relive those moments watching Deuce Bigalow all over again for the first time in over a decade. And I felt even dirtier this time around than the first time.
When the film came out back in 1999, when Rob Schneider was already 5 years removed from his makin’ copies days at Saturday Night Live, 4 years from when he joined forces with Sylvester Stallone again in Judge Dredd, 2 years from his remake sitcom of Men Behaving Badly and a year from his ‘You Can Do It!’ cameos in The Waterboy and Big Daddy…
I’m sorry, where was I going? I actually had to sit back and stop the demonic images of Schneder in little undies taking hold of my mind once more. What I was trying to get at was he was a fresh faced comedic actor, who was finally being given the chance by his good pal Adam Sandler to take the lead role in a comedy made just for him. Directed by Mike Mitchell, who went on to direct the underrated Sky High and then direct tired and poor sequels Shrek Forever After and Alvin & the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (get it?) and written by Schneider and Harris Goldberg (who wrote another film I’ll be sadly covering down the line, Master of Disguise), Deuce Bigalow is a simple tale of a pool cleaner/ plumber/ whatever water visual gags they can throw in to not make you laugh who happens to befriend a gigolo (played by Oded Fehr of The Mummy films fame). When Antoine Laconte (Fehr) needs to leave for business, somehow he trusts Bigalow just enough to watch his place, but if anything happens to his beloved fish tank, he’ll do nasty things to Deuce’s butt with his medieval weapons.
Don’t get me wrong, I like stupid comedies. But when something is so painful to watch and where I recorded how many times I laughed out loud (zero), giggled (zero) and had a little chuckle (twice), it goes into another plane of existence. But when you look at the box office receipts and see that while the film cost $17 million, it made back close to $100 million. Which means at the time, audiences were desperate for any movie to possibly make them laugh. Looking back at what was out its opening week, Toy Story 2 (a family movie) and The Green Mile (a drama) were on top and the only other comedic films in the top 10 were Dogma and the now classic Being John Malkovich, people seemed to gravitate more toward the film where constant dick, gay, fart and deformity jokes were wanted.
That’s not fair, because maybe people went into the film thinking they would get a very intellectual comedy, a sweet story with a man who just wanted to be accepted, to be loved and finally to have a career he could call his very own. Instead, they got Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. It was the first film in awhile, while re-watching it, I was shaking my head, checking my watch every 3 to 5 minutes to see how much more time was left and having stomach cramps from wanting to laugh but nothing on screen giving me that chance. One giggle I had came from William Forsythe’s usual chewing of the scenery, but even his constant ‘my dick is small’ jokes shriveled up like what he was supposedly packing in his pants. The other one, which almost resembled an actual laugh, was from Norm McDonald’s brief role as a bartender. I’d rather the film be about his character, stabbing patrons who can’t pay him in the eye with a swizzle stick. I would have paid to see that movie.
The movie relies on too many flat gags that border on making fun of people with disabilities or might be considered a ‘freak’ in some circles. One woman is giant, another woman (played by the wonderful Amy Poehler) has Tourette’s, while his own love interest has one leg. Oh my! Perish the thought! The funny thing is, this is the only thing in the film that Schneider shows some heart with. Yes, there’s stupid gags throughout, but he tries to actually give it some weight but then it becomes a cliche romantic comedy trope of a misunderstanding and non-hilarity ensues. The film is just desperate to make people laugh with the cheapest jokes possible, so when Deuce comes out in lederhosen, you should be laughing! Right?
I was never a fan of Rob Schneider in the first place. I tended to loathe his sketches on SNL, and in films like Demolition Man and Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, they had the right idea because less Schneider meant a more enjoyable experience. I know I won’t be getting a huge ad in Variety for writing this retrospective of Schneider’s work because I’m not as big as Roger Ebert. Which is perfectly fine, because I doubt this will change the minds of everyone who bought a copy of this film (twice for some) on DVD, to watch endlessly. There has to be fans of this film because 6 years later, a sequel came out, which I’ll be covering later on in this series (if I survive). Eddie Griffin is in the film as a pimp. It’s as funny as it sounds.
Maybe my funny bone has chipped away as the years have gone by, but looking back at 1999 when I was a stupid 19 year old in college, I didn’t like this movie much. 13 years later, my luck ran out when I decided to watch it again and actually dislike the film so much, I had to sit on the idea for a month before being able to write again. That’s a powerful film right there. I will never go back to watching this film, even when I check out the sequel. That will be enough time spent with this character and this universe, which is just a lazy stereotype. I think I’ll end this with a quote from the wise and handsome gigolo Antoine.
“Excuse me for a second, huh? Must make pee-pee.”