Film Scouts Reviews

"A Night at the Roxbury"

by Karen Jaehne

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The best comedy duo since George Burns & Gracie Allen, Will Ferrell &
Chris Kattan took a whole 90 minutes to explore the depths of the
club-crawling brothers they created, the Butabi boys, and now we know!
They are every bit as shallow as they seemed. And they're working
the same turf as Dumb & Dumber, even taken it farther.

Dressed up in the humor usually reserved for dumb blondes, Will
Ferrell & Chris Kattan solve one of the more vexing social problems of
Los Angeles: what kind of people go to clubs just to stand around in
the line waiting to get in? Are they dumb enough to think that, once
refused, they'll be admitted? Why do they hang around? Have they no

As the Butabi brothers, Will & Chris show us the depth of stupidity
that keeps people in the Waiting in Line category all their lives.
Dan Hedaya plays their father and Loni Anderson their mother, so
there's no reason to expect mental overload. If the boys were not
employed by their father in one of those pricy shops on Rodeo Drive in
Beverly Hills, they would have to burn burgers at McDonalds. Their
father's success in the silk flower biz has, however, given them
delusions of taste and self-importance - but not enough to get in the
Roxbury, the trendiest club in L.A.

The film sports faint outlines of a plotline (the girl next door
chases Steve to the altar and an identity crisis), but the kick is
really watching Will & Chris be Steve & Doug. Note that ampersand
(the &) - it's the most significant part of their signature! Like the
clip that pulls a bra together, that ampersand means one's not much
good without the other. (It even has legal significance, telling the
lawyers that they only work with each other and are represented by
only one agent.) The comedy of ampersands - think Dean Martin & Jerry
Lewis - is a tricky thing. Usually, the funnier half of the team is
dim-witted, yet both of these guys want to be funny, ergo they're
vying for the witless award. Maybe that's what kept them in high
school for seven years: such a great place to be funny. So SNL.

It's a tough call: who's funnier, Steve Butabi, the big lug with a pea
brain, or Doug, whose brain works like a pinball machine - pointless
but very flashy and noisy. Their life's work has been making John
Travolta's performance at the top of "Saturday Night Fever" their own
walk and talk and way of life in Beverly Hills. (And they wonder why
people call it LaLa Land...?)

Interesting note: originally, the script was about two guys in the New
York club scene, equally out of it, equally lost. Producer Amy
Heckerling came along, read the script, and corrected the P.O.V.
"They seemed more like California-based personalities," per the
bi-coastal Ms. Heckerling, who has written, produced and directed her
share of teen fodder (the classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High,"
"Look Who's Talking," "Clueless"). On behalf of all New Yorkers,
thank you, Amy.

Isn't it unkind of a gang of New Yorkers - and Canadians - to make fun
of these mentally deficient Angelinos? I hear a resounding NOT! from
the Saturday Night Live corner. But it's soooooh cruel. Isn't
clubbing an intellectually respectable sport? In L.A.? Some of the
best people can be caught at it. Of course, they're INSIDE the club.

Still, think about it. (Go ahead, it's a compliment.) What SNL is
satirizing is the loser mentality of the Outsiders. And not the
Outsiders that Francis Ford Coppola turned into a wistful movie about
adolescent boys struggling with their hormones. These aren't sensitive
kids gearing up for Rebel Without a Cause.

The interesting question - what makes them funny? - leads us to the
obvious: they're stupid. They're not too stupid, however, not to be
insecure. They know something is wrong; otherwise, they would not
cling to each other for dear life. Socially maladjusted people don't
necessarily keep their maladjustment to themselves. All too often,
they inflict it on the rest of us. They mumble obscenities behind
your back. They go postal. But Steve and Doug just tell each other,
"You're smart," and in response, "And you're good looking." NOT.

Their stupidity isolates them into a brotherly pact of mutual
admiration and protection from the Truth. (They're like their
mother.) At which point, the movie becomes an After School Special.
It even stars Richard Grieco, who was once Officer Dennis Booker on
the hit Canadian series, 21 Jump Street. Now he's got one of those
tans that indicates a fried brain and a gold chain around his neck.
He embodies the Club Scene. But by the end of the movie, he's
returned to his own roots. Here's Officer Booker again, sitting with
the Butabi boys' father at the aborted wedding - woops! gave away the
happy ending! But isn't it good to see the boys back clubbing and
Grieco bringing everyone around to mutual understanding and love, just
like a good after school special?

Live by the tube, die by the tube.

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