Goofy ‘The Animal’ Has a Nice Bite
“The Animal” is an outrageous and imaginative summer comedy aimed primarily at young males, but it is often so funny that it may well connect to a broader audience. “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo’s” Rob Schneider stars in a script he wrote with Tom Brady, a TV veteran making his theatrical feature debut.
With his comic talent honed on “Saturday Night Live,” Schneider is wonderfully expressive, a gift essential in mining the film’s exuberantly crude humor. A lot of the fun in watching this movie derives from discovering how deftly Schneider gets away with so much.
Schneider’s Marvin Mange is the evidence clerk on a small-town police force--"The Animal” was shot in picturesque Sonoma and Calistoga, Calif. Marv dreams of following in his late father’s footsteps in joining the force but is so inept that he is the butt of more comic physical abuse than a loser in a vintage Hollywood cartoon. Marvin gets his big chance when the entire force, headed by Ed Asner’s shrewd Chief Wilson, is off on a picnic, and he takes off in a squad car in response to a burglary-in-progress call.
Hapless Marv never makes it, for his car swerves off a mountain road into what seems the deepest crevasse in the history of the movies; every time his car lands, it tumbles down yet another steep cliff.
Marv regains consciousness in a hospital bed a week later. He awakens a changed man, discovering he now possesses amazing physical endurance and such a heightened sense of smell he can sniff out the dope a man is smuggling through an airport checkpoint. And then there’s the matter of his newly ferocious sex drive, amid a plethora of strange new abilities and traits.
Schneider and Brady seem to have taken inspiration from “Island of Lost Souls” and other such horror pictures and played them for laughs; no more need be revealed. Marv proceeds to a notably zany career on the police force and a romance with a pretty animal rights advocate (a well-cast Colleen Haskell, of the original “Survivor” TV series). John C. McGinley, who holds the patent on nasty jerks, is hilarious as Marv’s police sergeant nemesis; Louis Lombardi and Guy Torry are Marv’s amusing loyal pals.
Luke Greenfield, who makes his assured feature directorial debut with “The Animal,” has the right credentials: He made his name creating the 10-part hidden-camera show called “Go Sick!,” in which he and others foisted outrageous stunts on an unsuspecting Los Angeles citizenry.
* MPAA rating: PG-13, for some crude and sexual humor. Times guidelines: language, gross-out humor.
Rob Schneider: Marvin
Colleen Haskell: Rianna
John C. McGinley: Sgt. Sisk
Ed Asner: Chief Wilson
A Columbia Pictures release of a Revolution Studios presentation of a Happy Madison production. Director Luke Greenfield. Producers Barry Bernardi, Carr D’Angelo, Todd Garner. Executive producers Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo. Screenplay by Tom Brady & Rob Schneider, based on a story by Schneider. Cinematographer Peter Lyons Collister. Editors Jeff Gourson, Peck Prior. Music Teddy Castellucci. Costumes Jim Lapidus. Production designer Alan Au. Art director Domenic Silvestri. Set decorator Gene Serdena. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes.
In general release.