The Animal

Aside from Mike Meyers and Adam Sandler, the success and fame of recent Saturday Night Live actors who venture into films is rare. The last example was David Spade with Joe Dirt, which disappeared quickly from screens. Rob Schneider is one of the latest, scoring a surprise hit with Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Thanks mainly to Sandler's production company, Schneider is positioning himself as a cut-rate alternative to Sandler. He is shorter, blander, and depending on the viewer's opinion, smarter or dumber than Sandler. Either way, the bar is low, and Schneider never really surpasses it. The (ahem) good news is that The Animal is not as moronic and dumb as it looks. Nevertheless, It is still essentially one joke taken far too long, but there are some minor chuckles strewn throughout the film.

The basic formula for one of these post-SNL movies is to have a sympathetic lead character, usually some sort of loser, mixed in with scatological humor and lots of songs for the soundtrack. Schneider (Little Nicky) is Marvin Mange, an unsuccessful policeman who gets into an accident on the way to stop a burglary. His car careens off a cliff, and he wakes up with no memory of the accident. While unconscious, Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton, The Interview, The Castle), a sort of rural mad scientist, saved Marvin by transplanting various animal parts into Marvin's body. Now, Marvin is feeling the urges of each of the various animals, and seems to posses their abilities. Let the bestiality jokes commence!

Not only are there plenty of bestiality jokes, but director Luke Greenfield (The Right Hook) makes sure to have Schneider 'mark his territory' animal style, many times. Somewhere amongst all these extended sketch comedy segments is a story that never fully materializes. Written by Schneider and Tom Brady (Sports Night, Men Behaving Badly), The Animal follows a pattern of setting up a joke, letting it run its course, and then milking it further until it becomes dull and boring. Instead of a story, it's "hey look, Marvin is acting like a dog!" "Hey look, Marvin is now acting like a horse!" "Tee-hee, he's acting like a hamster!" And on, and on, and on. A story does slowly emerge, but it happens so quickly and is resolved in what seems like a matter of minutes that it is only an afterthought.

Schneider never fully materializes as the lovable loser because he has no distinct personality. He acts like a fool, but there is little warmth or prolonged humor from it. Collen Haskell of Survivor fame appears, milking her fifteen minutes for all it's worth. She plays an animal lover/hippie who becomes Marvin's love interest. She looks absolutely adorable, but really has nothing to do and does nothing except smile. Except for the fact that most of these movies have some hot girl as a co-star, there is no reason for Haskell to be in the movie, regardless of what happens in the story. The same goes for many of the other characters, almost all of whom are dull. And since this is an SNL alum movie, expect some cameos from other SNL players. It's sad when the cameos last possibly a minute, and are possibly the best moments in The Animal.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 34 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some crude and sexual humor.

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