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Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

Review by Joe Barlow
Posted 17 December 1999

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Starring Rob Schneider, 
Eddie Griffin, Oded Fehr, 
and  Arija Bareikis

Written by Harris Goldberg 
and Rob Schneider

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo tips its hand from the moment the theater lights go down. In the first two minutes of the film, all of the following events occur: (a) our protaganist appears, nude, in a public aquarium, thereby allowing us a glimpse at his bare bottom; (b) an old lady falls down a flight of steps; and (c) a young lady's t-shirt gets wet, exposing... well, the fact that she's not wearing any undergarments, for starters. Most bad films take at least ten minutes to reveal their wretchedness, so give the movie credit for revealing its complete lack of intelligence up front. At least this way the audience develops no expectation of quality or entertainment value.

One doesn't walk into a film titled Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo expecting to see high art, of course, but this film takes the concept of potty humor to a whole new level, doing for used condoms and flatulance what Monty Python did for Spam and wafer-thin mints. Imagine There's Something About Mary, with the hair-gel scene stretched to 80 minutes, and all the other parts excised.

Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider) is a friendly fish expert / pool man / aquarium cleaner, who finds himself apartment-sitting for Antoine (Oded Fehr), a wealthy neighbor who's leaving for a European vacation. Antoine (who desperately wants to be Antonio Banderas, it seems) is a gigolo, and very good at his job. He's so good, in fact, that his phone hardly ever stops ringing. After Deuce inadvertently destroys much of Antoine's apartment, he passes himself off as a gigolo to earn some much-needed money for homestead repairs. The problem: Deuce isn't very good at gigolo-ing. However, he discovers that by simply spending quality time with his customers, he is able to simultaneously improve their self-esteem and earn the money he needs to fix up Antoine's apartment before he returns. Along the way, we'll have the opportunity to witness the many tender farts, burps, and pratfalls he shares with these ladies.

I have no problem with raunchy humor if it's used for a purpose. This film, however, seems to think that it's enough to simply throw raunchiness on the screen regardless of context, and that laughter will automatically follow; as such, no thought has gone into the screenplay, the pacing, the performances, or the direction. Every gag develops so predictably, with absolutely no surprises, that one wonders why they even bothered to film the punchlines. For example, after Deuce inadvertently shatters Antoine's aquarium, our hero rescues Antoine's prize fish and stores it in the blender. Take a wild guess as to what eventually happens to it. All the other jokes are equally transparent.

My favorite flaw in the film, however, is its schizophrenia. On one hand, the director's message seems to be, "Don't laugh at those who are different from you, because they're people too, with feelings and dreams of their own." At the same time, the film paints everyone who's not young, white and attractive as a total nincompoop, good for nothing but fodder for cruel humor, which we're supposed to find hilarious. A few of the groups targeted by this piece of excrement: the elderly, amputees, the obese, the blind, the exceedingly tall, sufferers of Tourette's syndrome, the homosexual, and many others. The effect seems to be done not so much for comedic effect as simple sadism.

No one with any degree of maturity could find any of these medical conditions remotely funny, but boy, the filmmakers (including executive producer Adam Sandler) sure do. When it tires of laughing at disabilities, the story fills itself with meaningless sex talk. An actual line of dialogue: "Our man-ginas are what we professionals call our man-pussies." I love the double standard of the film's message: "Everyone is a person, and deserves to have friends; however, if they're not young and white, they'll probably have to pay for the privilege of said companionship."

It's quite revealing that most of the other folks who attended this screening appeared to share my opinion of it. I believe that I, at the age of twenty-six, was the oldest person in the theater. Most of the other viewers appeared to be white males in their mid-teens, assumedly the film's target audience. Most laughed just as often as I did--which is to say, not at all.

The only factor that saves Deuce Bigalow from a zero star rating is its brevity--the film is well under 90 minutes in length, making it no more painful to endure than a typical root canal, and it's cheaper, too. On the other hand, banging your head against the wall for an hour and a half will yield much the same result, and hey, that's free. I've seen plenty of bad movies in my life, but this is the only one that ever made me want to take a shower after screening it.

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