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Rob Schneider: CAN HE GET ANY WORSE?

If the Fox network debuted a show next season called “When Good Comedians Go Bad,” Rob Schneider would be the main character. Schneider, the writer and star of disposable comedies like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and The Animal, will release his new atrocity, The Hot Chick, on December 13.

Schneider has followed in the larger footsteps of his friend and fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Adam Sandler by writing and starring in his own movie, Deuce Bigalow, in 1999. By this time, Sandler was an expert in the lowbrow comedy genre, releasing a string of highly profitable films starting with Billy Madison in 1995.

Schneider, in a press meeting with Life & Art at The Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne, talked about his introduction to show business, and his evolution from stand-up to “SNL” to soggy semi-stardom. He indirectly credits Sandler, his “co-star” in several films, with his current movie career. Fledgling with supporting roles in early ’90s movies like Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and, Demolition Man, Sandler gave him a lead role as a goofball male prostitute in Deuce Bigalow.

Even though hell didn’t freeze over, Deuce Bigalow was a box office hit. Schneider co-wrote the film, and immediately starred in and co-wrote a new comedy, The Animal – about a man who transforms into a half-animal. Going up against odds that would boggle John Nash, The Animal was a box office success as well, especially given its miniscule budget. Now, Schneider has decided to challenge all higher beings to a round of “American Gladiators” with his newest mishap, The Hot Chick.

The Hot Chick, which Schneider promoted by touring the country with co-writer/director Tom Brady and lead actress (the ever hot) Anna Faris, is the most moronic plot to date. A good-looking and popular high school girl wakes up one morning to find herself transformed into an ugly middle-aged man (enter Schneider). Here’s when the hilarity is supposed to ensue, but unfortunately the audience is left on a small island populated with blatantly annoying jokes. Even worse, not one stupid joke is in the spirit of Happy Gilmore’s excellent “You’re gonna die, clown!” scene. In case you didn’t find Sandler’s recent disappointments, Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds, awful enough, Schneider’s new film is much worse.

It is Friday morning and Schneider sits in a classy meeting room at the Ritz, looking tired and sleep-deprived, in a half undone pink-ish dress shirt. His unshaven face and scraggly hair are not merely symptoms of laziness, but instead a desperate sign that he needs a break. Based on his upcoming list of tour stops, he probably won’t be using a razor correctly anytime soon. According to his publicity crew, they had flown in from Philadelphia the night before, rushed to the UM screening of The Hot Chick and then were immediately brought to the Ritz for sleep. It is difficult to imagine Schneider passing up all-night SoBe clubbing and free drinks at the drop of a “You can do it!” for an early bedtime, and from the look of his reddish eyes, no one would have known anyway.

Deuce Bigalow was a tolerable effort for a first timer like Schneider. It was no Oscar nominee, but it fit snuggly into the Sandler genre. The Animal took a downhill turn, with a couple of salvageable laughs amidst the million-dollar idiocy. The Hot Chick, which Schneider insists is his best work, is surely his worst, or at least his least funny. There is no real specific aspect of the film that’s horrible; it’s a combination of many bad moments that make it pathetic.

In person, Schneider is funny and likable, genuinely struggling to fight his exhaustion to entertain us media folks. His funny quips about being a woman (“I felt like I was allowed in the house, but not in any of the interesting rooms.”) and his dead-on Christopher Walken impression were a few of the comedic highlights, and most of his answers were lengthy and in depth. Still, it felt like he had been answering these questions for years, which of course he has been.

One of the more interesting things to come out of the interview was Schneider’s apparent dislike of “SNL,” which gave him his big break in show business. He seemed to appreciate the exposure, recommending it to anyone, but emphasized his disgust with the politics of the whole thing. He said he had no desire to guest host, although he was due back in New York the next day for a special appearance on the show with Sandler, debuting the new “Chanukah Song.” It was surprising to hear that he doesn’t keep in touch with any of his former “SNL” coworkers, Sandler being the exception. Other Schneider shockers included his former use of method acting, his love of Mexican directors, and the fact that of all the people in Hollywood, the one he would most like to meet is director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich).

One of Schneider’s good friends is Brady, a former writer for “The Simpsons,” “The Critic,” and Schneider’s short-lived TV show, “Men Behaving Badly.” This is Brady’s directing debut, and his second experience co-writing a movie with Schneider, after The Animal.

Brady was also on hand at the hotel, doing interviews alongside Faris. They both put a little more effort into their answers, and seemed more rested. Faris was transformed by her change in hair color, leaving her unattractive black-haired Scary Movie lead role behind for the cute blonde sidekick in The Hot Chick. Unfortunately, her hairdresser doesn’t give acting lessons, and her upchuck in serious moments from Scary Movie to The Hot Chick proves overwhelming. She doesn’t drag the movie down, and she’s great to look at, but her performance is poor.

The overall impression from the interviews and movie was that Brady and Schneider are talented people who have decided to borrow bad cinematic habits from Sandler. As Sandler’s flicks get worse, so do Schneider’s. For their next film, Schneider and Brady are contemplating a sequel to Deuce Bigalow. Hopefully they will realize that the stupid-meter is about to break. If Brady can channel his old “Simpsons” writing and Schneider can channel the Deuce Bigalow character one more time, the duo should make enough money for a swimming pool. Come on guys, “you can do it!”

Shawn Wines can be reached at shawnwines@aol.com.

November 26, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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