Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Cast: Rob Schneider, Arija Bareikis, William Forsythe, Eddie Griffin, Oded Fehr, Gail O'Grady, Richard Riehle, Jacqueline Obradors, Big Boy, Amy Poehler, Dina Platias, Torsten Voges, Deborah Lemen, Bree Tucker, Andrew Shaifer, Norm Macdonald, Marlo Thomas.
1999 88 minutes
Rated: (for profanity, sexual situations, and extreme scatological humor).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, December 12, 1999.
At first appearance, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" might seem akin to the (dis)likes of "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" or, even more horrifying, a Pauly Shore movie. Executive produced by Adam Sandler and starring his good pal and SNL alum Rob Schneider, this politically incorrect and relatively good-natured comedy pleasantly surprises for a number of reasons, and comes off being one of the funniest films of the year.
In its story of fish tank cleaner Deuce Bigalow (Rob Schneider) and the turn of fate that causes him to take over the profession of Antoine Laconte (Oded Fehr), a gigolo, in order to make quick cash to pay for the extreme damages that are accidentally inflicted upon his home, there is ample opportunity for comedic situations, and screenwriters Harris Goldberg and Rob Schneider are up to the challenge. Occasionally snappy dialogue and, especially, an overabundance of clearly lowbrow, yet insufferably humorous, physical comedy, help to give the picture a breezy, entertaining pace.
While the film's myriad jokes target everyone from the obese, to the tall, to the blind, to those with Tourette's Syndrome and Narcolepsy, it never seems downright mean because there are lessons that are learned and the characters are mostly likable people. All of Deuce's clients, it seems, have some sort of shortcoming, and although the aforementioned groups are featured at the expense of some tasteless humor, the characters still, strangely, keep away from being cartoonish with no purpose but to be laughed at. For example, the young woman Deuce takes out who has Tourette's (Amy Poehler), is very funny, as she uncontrollably yells profanities at random, but it turns out to develop a kinder edge when they go to a baseball game and, in his attempt to not make her feel out of place, tries to incorporate her profanities into their discussion of the ball players.
Amid all of the silliness, a genuinely sweet romance develops between Deuce and recent college graduate Kate (Arija Bareikis). Originally hired to take her out, posing as a blind date, but then unintentionally falling head over heels for her, problems arise when Kate discovers Deuce has been lying to her. One of the more sensitive aspects of this subplot is in its treatment of Kate, who turns out to have an artificial leg. Instead of only being played for laughs, Deuce is easily able to overlook such a thing, as he nonetheless sees her otherwise inner and outer beauty. Arija Bareikis (1997's "The Myth of Fingerprints"), as Kate, is a sparkling presence onscreen, and in many ways, this romance that is played out against the backdrop of occasional gross-out humor, is reminiscent of 1998's "There's Something About Mary." While the latter picture was overhyped, and thus, was a disappointment, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," surpasses all expectations for its usually disreputable genre, and is almost consistently funny from start to finish.
As in most comedies of this ilk, there is a little excessiveness in some of the humor, and not every joke works. Accordingly, the film is light in tone and its message is sophomorically simple-minded, but it somehow works. More than anything, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" has arrived at a time when theaters are currently being overrun by serious films vying for Oscar statuettes, and it was nice to finally see a movie that isn't 3 hours long and requires a strong train of thought to process. Director Mike Mitchell shows a spark for filming comedic setpieces, and Rob Schneider acts as an enjoyable protagonist, not overly annoying or imbecilic, and someone that we are willing to follow throughout the story. "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" may not be a masterpiece, but it has no aspirations to be. It is simply a very funny comedy--no more, no less--and sometimes, that is enough.
©1999 by Dustin Putman