Scotland, PA

In recent years, it seems that there is a rush to retell William Shakespeare's plays in film, with wildly variant results. Scotland, PA is Billy Morrissette's attempt at Macbeth, transplanting the Scottish play to the small town of Scotland in the 1970s. Not only is the castle now a fast food restaurant, but there is also a strange streak of black comedy running through the entire movie. It seems the only thing missing is Julia Stiles, who seems to lurk somewhere in most Shakespeare remakes. Joe "Mac" McBeth (James LeGros, Life in the Fast Lane, If You Only Knew) works at Duncan's with his wife Pat (Maura Tierney, Instinct, Forces of Nature) under owner Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn, Meet the Parents, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle). Pat and Mac want something better, and they scheme to off Duncan and buy the restaurant for themselves.

They finish the job, and quickly turn the restaurant, now named McBeth's, into an unqualified success due to their new innovation, where customers order from their cars by speaking into an intercom and pulling up to pick up their food. McBeth's is a funny parody of McDonald's. Duncan's murder proves mysterious, attracting out-of-town policeman Lt. Ernie McDuff (Christopher Walken, The Affair of the Necklace, America's Sweethearts). McDuff believes that Duncan's son Malcolm (Tom Guiry, Black Hawk Down, Tigerland), killed Duncan. Malcolm is in full rebellious mode, outwardly hating his father. As McDuff continues his investigation, the guilt and paranoia surrounding Duncan's death begin to interfere with Pat and Mac's daily routine. They become more unstable, which of course means more murder and cover-ups.

Morrissette stays true to Shakespeare's source material. He even changes the three witches into three carnie/hippies played by Amy Smart (Outside Providence, Road Trip), Andy Dick (Zoolander, Dr. Dolittle 2) and the always annoying Timothy "Speed" Levitch (Waking Life, The Cruise). The comedy is a nice touch, adding lots of flavor in certain places, but Morrissette is a little too esoteric at other times. The most amusing characters are Walken and Kevin Corrigan (American Saint, See Jane Run) who plays Anthony "Banko" Banconi. Walken is, well, Walken. He brings his odd delivery and general creepiness to the role of McDuff. Corrigan is a stoner, zoned out Banko, always looking like he is high on something rather than paying attention to the things around him. Another good performance goes to Geoff Dunsworth who plays Donald Duncan, Malcolm's brother. Donald has his own secret and bizarre circle of friends to deal with.

Most of the other actors are all over the place. LeGros is a little too out of it at times to be effective. Tierney is better at Pat, although Morrissette's reinterpretation of Lady MacBeth's blood stain is a little trite. Her character wields so much control that Mac seems like a patsy. Rebhorn overacts his heart out. It's much to distracting to have so many disparate styles in one movie, and no actor does a good enough job to overcome the pacing, which gets slow at times. In the end, the most memorable thing about Scotland, PA is its bizarro sense of humor. There are genuinely funny moments, but most of Morrissette's attempts at humor are too strange to be funny. He is trying to be quirky not to further the story or drive a point home, but just to be quirky.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated R for language, some nudity, drug content and brief violence.

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