Friday December 10, 1999
Only the innate sweetness of both its lead character and its base premise keeps you from wanting to slap "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" upside its mangy, empty head.
As "doofus comedies" go, it falls short of the Farrelly brothers' "Dumb & Dumber" and (even!) "Kingpin," but it's several notches above such woeful misfires as "Lost and Found." At least some of the giggles in "Deuce" are honestly earned--even if it takes a while for you to remember what, exactly, you found funny. And why.
From the time Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider) is shown cleaning an aquarium tank in the buff in front of startled visitors, you know you're in for the obvious as far as funny stuff goes. Bigalow is an amiable jerk with no girlfriend, no prospects and no hope of any life beyond scraping algae off glass surfaces and rescuing goldfish from toilet bowls.
Then one extraordinary day, Deuce is asked to house-sit for a dark and dangerous-looking male prostitute named Antoine (Oded Fehr), whose expensive fish need some medical care. How bad could living on the Malibu beach be? Not bad at all, until Deuce accidentally busts Antoine's fish tank and turns his fabulous digs into a science project.
Now, Deuce has three weeks to make everything right before Antoine comes home. Where's he going to get the scratch to fix the tank? A phone call from one of Antoine's clients provides a way out and before you can sing along with the first line of Blondie's "Call Me," Deuce's professional life makes an emergency turn toward the gigolo's trade.
From here, the plot takes on a handful of semipredictable set pieces as T.J. Hicks (Eddie Griffin, who does well in the kind of role you'd always hoped he'd avoid), Antoine's pimp, sets Deuce up with women who are too tall, too heavy, carry sleep disorders or are given to venomous outbursts. Yet, despite the suspicions of a crazed LAPD detective (William Forsythe), Deuce doesn't actually do anything with them except tend to their insecurities the way he tends to sick fish. Only Kate (Arija Bareikis), who seems perfectly normal, makes him want to do more than "just talk."
Though the limits of "bathroom humor" are redefined to excessive degrees in "Deuce Bigalow," you can't be too salty with a movie targeted for the adolescent mind that encourages adolescents to respect the dignity of all persons, even the height- and weight-challenged. And Schneider does befuddlement so well that you almost wish he were in a better movie. But if "Deuce" were a better movie, would its, um, lessons be lost on the doofuses it means to reach? There's a dilemma worth chewing your cud over.
Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, 1999. R, for sexual content, language and crude humor. Touchstone Pictures presents a Happy Madison production in association with Out of the Blue . . . Entertainment. Director Mike Mitchell. Producers Sid Ganis, Barry Bernardi. Screenplay Harris Goldberg & Rob Schneider. Cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister. Editors George Bowers, Lawrence Jordan. Costume designer Molly Maginnis. Music Teddy Castellucci. Production designer Alan Au. Set decorator Fontaine Beauchamp Hebb. Running time: 1 hours, 25 minutes. Rob Schneider as Deuce Bigalow. William Forsythe as LAPD Det. Chuck Fowler. Eddie Griffin as T.J. Hicks. Arija Bareikis as Kate.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times