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Nothing intellectual or deeply engaging, but works because of clever casting and funny material. *** out of ****.
SCREWED / (2000) ***
"Everyone gets it in the end" is the subtitle to "Screwed," the new comedy from the screenwriting team Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski ("Man on the Moon," "The People vs. Larry Flint"). Gets what in the end? Screwed, of course. That is one of the most factual taglines I have seen in a long time. Within the short running time of this comedy every last character becomes screwed in one way or another. No other commentary better fits the promotions of this production.
Former Saturday Night Live star Norm Macdonald is an unhappy chauffeur named Willard Fillmore. He is employed by his dead father's mistress, the wealthy but cruel-spirited Virginia Crock (Elaine Stritch), who owns a enormous bakery corporation and a cute little dog. Ms. Crock never grants Willard gifts, raises, nor does she compliment him for his hard and loyal services.
Rusty P. Hayes (David Chappelle) is Willard's best friend, a pot smoking young man destined to earn minimum wage for the rest of his seemingly pitiful life. The two buddies decide they have had enough of Crock's inhumanity and are ready to get even with the witch. They plan to abduct her precious canine to hold for a million dollar ransom. With the help of a deranged morgue attendant named Grover Cleaver (Danny DeVito), the unlikely pair set out for revenge and criminal riches. As their after dark heist for Crock's pet takes place, Willard and Rusty's dim minds cannot handle the pressure. The unsuccessful seizure results in severe bleeding, a misinterpreted reimbursement note, and a crime site appearing as though a brutal murder has taken place. All of this and yet the mission's target ends up escaping the captors and finding its way back in bed next to Crock.
Virginia Crock discovers a room in her mansion ransacked and destroyed, therefore, when she reads the ransom note regarding the assumed capture of her dog, she thinks the reading indicates Willard himself is the hostage. When Detective Tom Dewey (Daniel Benzali) becomes involved with the missing persons' case, Rusty gets an idea: instead of abducting the dog, they should agree with what the presses are addressing. Complicated chaos ensues leaving nearly every character "screwed" by the time the film's finally roles around.
"Screwed" works mostly in part of the flawless casting choices. Danny DeVito makes the film alike in his character to his diabolic portrayal of the Penguin in "Batman Returns" with exaggerated gestures and irresistible make-up and costume. No other actress could have captured the spiteful, annoying character of aging Ms. Crock like Elaine Stritch, who gives a specific style to Crock that we love to hate. Norm Macdonald once again proves he cannot act worth a hill of beans, but he sure provokes amusing material through his character.
This production is of nothing intellectual or deeply engaging, nor is it anything thought-provoking in the least. The deadpan dialogue is bland, lacking creatively and liveliness. There are also undeveloped characters, scenes and subplots irrelevant to the story, and even some humor unworthy of a smirk. However, "Screwed" has one major element that makes it effective: the movie induces some big laughs. Many of today's comedies fail to bring about a single chuckle in an audience, and this movie frequently made me guffaw, giggle, grimace, and at certain points, laugh until it hurt. Judging "Screwed" in this method, the film is worth the watch.
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