Smells Like Fish
Rob Schneider's Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo targets the lowest common denominator.
Thursday, December 16, 1999
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.
Mike Mitchell''s film would be another example of why former "SNL" cast members should choose their scripts wisely, except that Rob 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 4-year-old in all of us, and occasionally--very occasionally--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 (Areija 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. (Eddie 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.
A subplot that has Deuce falling in love with the perky Bree 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.