1999's "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
" was a pleasant end-of-the-year surprise, a silly, frivolous concoction that jump-started the film career of "Saturday Night Live" alum Rob Schneider. Despite its randy R-rated edge, it remained innocuously sweet-natured and tender-hearted. After a six-year wait, "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" comes equipped with the same R rating and a narrative trajectory nearly identical to its predecessor. In place of that picture's amiable innocence, however, is a rapid-fire onslaught of gag-worthy jokes more plainly gross than consistently funny. There are some big laughs to be had in Mike Bigelow's mediocre directing debut, but just as many fumbles, and even by the low standards of a comedy called "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," the plotting is glaringly feeble.
Still dealing with the untimely loss of beloved wife Kate (Arija Bareikis) several years before, Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider) has barely stepped foot into Europe to visit former pimp T.J. Hooks (Eddie Griffin) that he finds himself being forced back into the man-whore profession. It seems a serial killer is offing the gigolos of Europe, and the culprit appears to be one of their regular female clients. With T.J. wrongfully at the top of the suspect list (and being constantly caught by the media in precarious homosexual situations with the corpses, to boot), Deuce goes undercover as an escort to find the real guilty party and clear his friend's name. In the process, he starts to fall for cute art student Eva (Hanna Verboom), who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It is interesting to note that in both "Deuce Bigalow" movies, Deuce never once is seen actually having sex with his clients; his work, it would seem, consists of taking the misfit women out and making them feel more comfortable in their own skin. In "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," this is the only detectable restraint used in an excessive raunchfest that, with each successive scene, attempts to top the last by making its audience put to use their gag reflex. From a woman with a functioning penis for a nose to another with a hole in her neck who squirts out whatever she takes in, these freakshow depictions are a far cry from the original's obese, narcoleptic and Tourette's-suffering clients. Some of the material involving these women are humorous in standalone scenes (beware what comes out of a sneezing penis nose), but they are just as often merely outlandish, and little attempt is made to really treat them like actual people.
More original and clever are the jokes that come out of the dialogue, although these moments of wit are shortchanged in exchange for basic slapstick and a bare-minimum story that plays more like a strained 80-minute skit than a fully formed screenplay (credited to Rob Schneider and 2001's dubious "Corky Romano
" writing team David Garrett and Jason Ward). One of the biggest, subtlest guffaws comes when Deuce inadvertently eats multiple pot-laced brownies and hallucinates talking to a beautiful woman he sees in a painting. Her described dream guy? "Someone who is unemployed, attended community college, and sits at his computer all day looking at porn sites, choosing the free trials with no intention of ever subscribing."
As hapless nice guy Deuce, Rob Schneider (2002's "The Hot Chick
") seamlessly slides back into the role with freewheeling energy to spare. He is that rare comic performer who is actually better in big screen vehicles where he is the lead rather than a supporting character, where he tends to overdo it and grows annoying quickly. Schneider can do better than this, though, and has. He does share more screen time than before with Eddie Griffin (2004's "My Baby's Daddy
"), and it is their scenes together that are to strongest and most charismatic. They play well off each other, and are clearly having a blast doing it. Filling the obligatory love interest part is fetching newcomer Hanna Verboom, as Eva, although their thinly developed relationship is no match for the one Schneider shared with Arija Bareikis in the first film.
By the time "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" reaches its climax at the Golden Boner Awards, an annual ceremony honoring the country's best gigolos where the serial killer is planning to take his/her ultimate vengeance, the movie has already run out of steam and is sputtering on tired fumes. The whole whodunit aspect of the story, meanwhile, is so obvious from the very first appearance of the character that any light intrigue it might have otherwise had instantly evaporates. "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" has its gloriously off-kilter moments, to be sure, but that is all there arefleeting moments with nowhere to pin the jokes but on a frail skeleton vaguely resembling a three-act cinematic structure. This time around, Deuce would have been better off staying stateside and talking to his late wife's artificial leg.