Shortchanged comedy

Movie: Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo

Our Rating: 2.50

If you discovered "Deuce Bigalow" on a video rental shelf, you'd probably be pleased to discover its occasional charms. The film's a tad better than the usual straight-to-video comedy. Some moments may remind you of the early Farelly Brothers; it confronts some comedy conventions and effectively makes fun of them.

But if you're paying Cineplex prices, you're likely to feel cheated. "Deuce Bigelow" has far too many sagging scenes that rely on tired gags. The inventive bits are few and far between, and the central satire quickly wears out its welcome.

Rob Schneider, the latest comic from the "Saturday Night Live" crew to aspire to big-screen success, plays the title role. He's modestly charming, but shows little to recommend him as an actor capable of carrying an entire film. That leaves the supporting cast, each character set with an interesting trait. There's an overweight glamour puss, a narcoleptic, a mousy girl with a filthy mouth, a cop with penis envy and so on. The characters are boring when they appear more than once -- and regrettably, all do.

Fellow "SNL" alumnus Adam Sandler helped produce this project, and his shadow follows Schneider so pervasively you can almost hear him giving advice: Keep it simple. You can't be too dumb. Go for the cheap laughs. Whenever the gag sags, we get a joke centered on body parts, excrement or property destruction.

The plot has sad-sack Schneider/Deuce working as a gigolo in order to pay for damage he's done to a real gigolo's pad. Contrary to the film's "R" rating, he talks about sex more than he performs; true to cliché, he falls in love with a client.

As if it were some fresh approach to comedy, there's a courtroom scene, a chase and a duke-out at the end to resolve matters.

Taken in small bits, as we've found so amusing on the small screen, this broad brand of quickie comedy often works. And if you're a fan of Schneider's humor (he probably works better as a gag writer than performer), you'll find, say, half the movie entertaining.

But with the high cost of moviegoing and the overemphasis on hype, this sort of fast-buck entertainment in theaters ought to be discouraged. If we're going to watch failed comedy, let it start at least with an original notion attached to it somewhere.


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