Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:23 - Released 6/1/01

Is is just me, or does it seem like Rob Schneider is trying to star in the most idiotic movies on the market? The Animal, co-written by Schneider and Tom Brady and directed by Luke Greenfield, is at least as bad as Schneider's 1999 starring debut, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, putting the ex-Saturday Night Live cast member in more demeaning situations and offering the same brain-dead screenwriting as that movie. The film's one saving grace is Schneider's co-star, ex-Survivor Colleen Haskell, the first veteran of that inexplicably popular television show to land a role in a feature film. Haskell, who has her cute meter set on full, is an adequate love interest (although occasionally gets a little too sugary in her characterization), but why her character would fall for Schneider's is beyond any reasonable explanation.

Schneider plays the exact same kind of character as in Deuce Bigalow: a wimp with a heart of gold. Working as an evidence file clerk for the Elkerton police department, where he doesn't even command respect from school children on a tour, Marvin Mange is berated by his superior, Sgt. Sisk (John C. McGinley), and tolerated by the department chief (Edward Asner, in a stunning career move). But he hopes to change all that by succeeding in his upcoming fourth try at the department's obstacle course and thereby finally winning his badge. Life changes, however, when Marvin is found after a bad car accident and operated on by a mad scientist (Michael Caton), who saves him by performing a "radical trans-species-ectomy" (implanting animal parts in his body). Although he doesn't remember the operation at first, Marvin suddenly finds that he can perform all sorts of animalistic feats, like outrunning a horse or smelling drugs on people at an airport. This not only wins him fame as Elkerton's "supercop" (and a place on the force), but the love and admiration of local animal lover Rianna Humbert Holt (Haskell), who seems to take his frequent animalistic behavior in stride. But when Marvin starts having trouble controlling his bestial impulses, he runs the risk of getting himself, Rianna, and the good doctor in trouble.

This film, which is co-produced by Schneider's SNL cohort Adam Sandler (and, of course, features Sandler in a cameo appearance), is rich with the kind of mind-numbing stupidity we have seen not only in Bigalow but in several of Sandler's recent vehicles. A few examples are an animal lover who can't pronounce "orangutan" and a script that doesn't know the difference between "musky" and "musty." But Schneider must be commended for his willingness to make himself a complete fool, energetically transforming himself into such things as a horse, a dog, a goat, a dolphin, and a monkey, among other things. And, as I mentioned, Haskell at least manages a characterization that is likable if occasionally too saccharine for her own good. If I laughed once during this film, however, I would never admit it in public.

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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