Wednesday, June 17, 1998

Dirty Work

Posted By on Wed, Jun 17, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Norm Macdonald was given the hook from "Saturday Night Live" because he wasn't funny. After this atrocity, devoid of mirth or wit, he should be banned from earth. Chris Farley, who puts in an all-too-familiar cameo as a fat psychotic boozer, has already been shuttled off this mortal coil. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. If only He were a bit quicker out of the blocks.

Mitch Webster (Macdonald), a terminal loser, decides he's had enough of being walked over. He's over 30 with no job, no chicks, no respect. When Pops (Jack Warden), sleazy father of Mitch's dullard friend, Sam (Artie Lange), succumbs to a heart attack and requires emergency surgery from a crooked doctor (Chevy Chase, who else?) with a heavy gambling debt to pay off, inspiration strikes. Our two misfits set up a revenge-for-hire service, setting us up for an hour of moaning and groaning. First on the list is an ill-tempered car dealer who bullies the young lovey that Mitch fancies. Said purveyor discovers, in the midst of a live TV commercial, that all the trunks of his Caddies contain "dead hookers." Ha-ha-ha, that's a good one. Where's the exit?

How does a film like this get made? Well, it's quite simple really. There's a whole segment of the population which has willfully submitted itself to the ongoing lobotomy that is American mass culture. The folks thrive on it. And director Bob Saget, infamous host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," knows his public well. No wonder he has so little trouble crossing over from real-life, cretinous slapstick to fictional, cretinous slapstick.

At times, the film is so over the top in its tastelessness that one might think that the whole stinking mess is a put-on -- laughs for those who get it, laughs at the expense of those who don't. But that would require us to greatly over-estimate Macdonald's intelligence. And that, my friends, would be dirty work indeed.

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