The Animal
review by Gregory Avery, 8 June 2001

In The Animal, Rob Schneider, with his googly eyes and barn-door ears, plays a lowly clerk in a small-town police department office, where he is pelted by children and sneered at by his adult co-workers. One day, while responding to an emergency call, he swerves to avoid hitting a seal (the type with flippers, that swims) in the middle of the road and flies off an embankment, falls and hits another one, then another, then lands after which a big boulder falls and smashes on top of....

Does this sound familiar? Yes, indeedy, we're back in that big, wonderful part of movieland where people think you don't need jokes to make a comedy. Instead, what you use is, 1) people being smacked up one side of the head, hard, very hard, 2) people hurling pretty nasty insults and abuse at other people, 3) people being placed in the lowest, crudest, and most embarrassing of situations, and, 4) everyone is made to look as stupid as possible. It is becoming wearisome.

Schneider's character emerges after being reconstructed by the local mad scientist (Michael Caton), who lives in the local woods, with animal organs. Which animals and from where is never explained up front, so the filmmakers can dispense with having to fool with any sort of plot and just have Schneider act goofy whenever they want him to. He barks and snarls like a dog, chases a cat, swims like a dolphin, humps a mailbox like a horse, marks his territory with urine, and has enhanced olfactory senses. After busting a guy who's carrying concealed drugs, a reporter asks him, "Is it true that you can smell things up people's butts?" He also attracts the attentions of a pert-looking young lady (Colleen Haskell, previously seen on a T.V. reality show) who runs an animal shelter. There, Schneider gets into a fight with an orangutan.

Actually, what happened was that somebody saw a video of Paul Schrader's 1982 remake of Cat People. This picture imitates that film's nighttime P.O.V. prowling shots, along with the scene where Nasstasja Kinski asks John Heard to tie her to the bedposts. (This film's version stops just short enough to retain its PG-13 rating.) There are also several instances where the film flirts with portraying bestiality to the point where it becomes skin-crawling.

The Animal isn't really the type of movie that deserves to be beaten-up on, but it's impossible to get around the fact that there's the distinct impression that the filmmakers think their audience is made up entirely of morons and that they laugh at the most incredibly cretinous things. Since this is pretty much all that Hollywood is currently offering people in the way of comedies, though, there's nothing else to turn to. The laughs that I heard at the screening I attended had the hollow ring of people who has shown-up and were determined to have a good time, no matter how lousy the movie actually turned out to be.

Directed by:
Luke Greenfield

Starring:
Rob Schneider
Colleen Haskell
Guy Torry
Michael Caton
John C. McGinley

Written by:
Tom Brady
Rob Schneider

Rated:
PG-13 - Parents Strongly Cautioned
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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