Our review of The Animal: Uncut And Untamed, published March 17th, 2004, is also available.
He wasn't much of a man…
Revolution Studios presents a Happy Madison production… And so the beginning credits for Rob Schneider's The Animal go, a fair warning to all those in the immediate vicinity. For those of you who aren't "in the know," Happy Madison is a combination of two Adam Sandler films, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. Sandler's company also produced Schneider's first starring movie, the humorously titled Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo (and the title was the only funny about it). In 2001 Rob Schneider and Survivor alum Colleen Haskell starred in the beastly comedy The Animal. Also starring Guy Torry (American History X), Edward Asner (Hard Rain), and John C. McGinley (The Rock, TV's Scrubs), The Animal leaps onto DVD care of Columbia Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Marvin Mange (Schneider) is an evidence clerk at a local police station. He's not a "real" cop, which means that everyone from co-workers to children on field trips picks on the poor guy. While manning the station one day while the officers are out playing baseball, Marvin gets a 911 distress call on a robbery in-progress. On his way to the crime, Marvin is involved in a freak car accident (involving a circus seal, no less) that renders him unconscious.
Awakening a week later, Marvin finds that he seems to have some newfound skills. Suddenly Marvin is able to smell heroin stashed inside of a drug dealers butt, leap tall bushes in a single bound, and build a beaver damn with his own set of choppers. What could be going on with Marvin? Apparently, he is the secret experiment by a wacky scientist (is there any other kind in a film like this?) who fitted Marvin with animal parts to save his life! Marvin now has the instincts of a dozen animals, and then some. His new behavior is baffling everyone—his disgruntled co-worker (McGinley), his token black friend (Torry), and his new could-be love interest, the sexy Rianna (Haskell).
Is Marvin able to fend off his desires to hump mailboxes and eat raw hamburger on a date, or will he be banished into the jungle for good?
Ever since I was a kid I have loved Saturday Night Live. That landmark show has churned out some of the funniest actors this side of the loony bin. Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers, and Will Ferrell are just a few comedians who got their start on the show. Many stars have followed up their SNL career with big budget movies. Some have been unanimous flops (Chevy Chase in Deal of the Century, Phil Hartman in Houseguest). Others gained blockbuster success (Bill Murray's Ghostbusters, Mike Myers' Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me). But what of the secondary players from SNL? What about the Charles Rockets or the Terry Sweenys? Well, okay…those guys were maybe bottom feeders. The secondary players are people like Jan Hooks and Martin Short, actors who never had break out success in films, but nonetheless were still featured in movies and on TV shows. Rob Schneider easily fits into this category as well. Remember Judge Dredd? Or how about Down Periscope? Maybe Martians Go Home will jog your memory? If not, that's understandable. Schneider has been in a lot of films, but usually never as the star and mostly in flops. All that changed with the release of the Adam Sandler produced sleeper hit Deuce Bigalow, Make Gigolo. Now comes The Animal, Schneider's second starring role.
The Animal will entertain those who thought Deuce Bigalow was a riot. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people. I found Deuce Bigalow to be too "nice" of a comedy for its own good. It had some gross jokes in it, as well as a few zinging one-liners, but overall it was slow, boring, and very flat. The Animal runs along the same gambit. There are only so many animal gags you can do in one film before the jokes become stale. Yes, it was funny to see Marvin drink sour badger milk (don't ask). And I found it mildly amusing when Marvin dropped off his date at her house, then ran back after she'd gone in to "mark his territory" by peeing around her front door. After that, it all seemed pretty redundant.
Rob Schneider is a likable guy, and funny to boot. When he was on SNL, he created memorable characters such as Richard the copy machine guy, and excelled at playing sniveling cowards with gentle ease. It's too bad the same can't be said for his movies. In both Deuce Bigalow and The Animal (and, I fear, future films) Schneider plays a lovable loser who triumphs in the end and gets the girl. Ho-hum. Seen it all before. If Schneider can maybe find the right script, he may have comedic superstar potential. Until then we're stuck with humdrum films like The Animal. The rest of the cast is the usual eclectic cast of actors, including a very bland Colleen Haskell as Rianna, a grumbling Ed Asner as a police captain, and John C. McGinley as Marvin's fuming co-worker. As a bonus, Norm MacDonald shows up in a mildly funny role as a grizzled member of a lynch mob.
The Animal is an inoffensive comedy that never rises above the rest to become original. While it's maybe not the worst comedy ever made, it certainly makes Son-in-Law seem like it's up to the caliber of a Neil Simon movie.
Now that's scary.
The Animal is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and looks excellent. A very new release, The Animal sports bright, vivid colors and deep black levels. No edge enhancement was spotted, nor was grain, dirt or digital artifacting. Columbia has done a very nice job on this title, though the same can't be said for the screenplay.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is also very well produced. This 5.1 soundtrack displays some nice directional effects that are often pumped though all the speakers at once. Since The Animal is mainly a dialogue driven (or urine gags, as it were) movie, the effects are kept to a slight minimum. The rock music score or background noise is well heard and clean of any distortion or hiss. The lowdown is that while this track won't blow out your speakers, it's halfway respectable. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track and subtitles in French and English.
The Animal is presented in a "special edition" that includes a nice array of extra materials. First up are two commentary tracks, one by Rob Schneider and producer John Schneider, and a second commentary by director Luke Greenfield. Neither of these tracks are very exciting, though the Schneider track is a bit more entertaining than the director's track. Greenfield tends to be very dry and informative, though after a while his voice got a bit too monotonous for this reviewer. While I wasn't very impressed with the commentaries, I'm sure that fans will eat them up.
Next up is Comedy Central's "Reel Comedy: The Animal" featurette which runs about 22 minutes. Typical of Comedy Central's features, this involves Schneider doing some wacky comedy styling via videotape, interviews with the cast and crew (Adam Sandler, Colleen Haskell, et cetera), as well as many, many clips from the movie. Even the animals show up for a bit of star treatment. A second and shorter featurette titled "Animal Instincts" is basically just a rehash of the Comedy Central featurette that includes interviews and quick behind-the-scenes clips. "Badger Delivery" is a feature you can use while watching the movie. When a certain icon shows up you can click enter on your remote and watch deleted footage that was left out of the film.
Four deleted scenes are included, each one presented in non-anamorphic widescreen. None of these scenes are particularly funny and it's fairly obvious why they were left on the cutting room floor. "What's In Marvin" is a little short "game" that lets you click on a certain animal icon, then watch a deleted clip from the film of Marvin reacting like that animal. Finally there are some filmographies on the cast and the director, as well as theatrical trailers for The Cable Guy, The Adventures Of Joe Dirt, Big Daddy, and The Animal.
Comedy is subjective, and as such, this means that the audience is a fickle beast. Personally, I wasn't very thrilled with The Animal. However, I really liked Nothing But Trouble, and that movie seems to be universally despised by everyone. That being said, the barometer you should use is this: if you liked the movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo or any Adam Sandler flick, chances are you'll flip over The Animal. At a relatively low price, this "special edition" of The Animal is worth picking up for those of you that answered yes to my prior question (and if you did, I am very, very frightened).
The Animal is guilty of shamelessly unfunny comedy. Columbia is free to go for good work on this disc. Case dismissed!
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