THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan

"DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO"

Rob Schneider’s career was nice and dead. After creating exactly one funny bit (the copy machine guy) in his years on “Saturday Night Live,” Schneider dabbled in a few short-lived sitcoms and appeared in each Adam Sandler movie to yell the words “You can do it!” at some point. The comedian’s friendship with Sandler was enough to get him a movie deal which resulted in 1999’s Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. To everyone’s surprise, the movie became something of a sleeper, inexplicably pulling in $65 million. Suddenly, Rob Schneider was back. His newfound clout allowed him to stink up theaters with subsequent duds like The Animal and The Hot Chick. Now comes the inevitable sequel, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. I must confess that I never saw the original. (It came out at Christmas time, and with all those Oscar hopefuls playing simultaneously, Deuce was simply not on my radar.) Having just seen the sequel, it’s safe to say that I won’t be seeking the original out – ever.

Schneider plays the title character, referred to at least two dozen times as a “man-whore.” After stirring up trouble in the United States, Deuce travels to Amsterdam to visit his pimp, T.J. (Eddie Griffin). T.J. introduces Deuce to all the stereotypical joys of Amsterdam, including – you guessed it – legalized drugs and a robust sex trade. (Haven’t seen that before. Ho, ho.) Then he drops the news that business is down because a serial killer is targeting all the man-whores in Europe. When T.J. is accused of being the killer, he goes on the lam while Deuce re-enters the gigolo business to clear his friend’s name.

After discovering that the killer may, in fact, be a woman, Deuce decides to sleep with all the women who were clients of the most recent victim. A police detective (played by Jeroen Krabbe of The Prince of Tides and Ocean’s Twelve) informs him that the killer uses a very rare brand of lipstick, so Deuce makes sure to ruffle through the purses of his clients when possible. He also meets the detective’s obsessive-compulsive daughter Eva (Hanna Verboom), who helps him get over his late wife, whose artificial leg he carries around with him. The climax takes place at the annual Man-Whore Awards – a ceremony that makes the Adult Entertainment Awards in Las Vegas look positively tasteful by comparison.

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is homophobic, racist, misogynist: homophobic because of all the gay jokes, specifically T.J.’s ongoing concern that people think he’s gay; racist because there are endless jokes inferring that Asian men have small genitalia; misogynist because all the women Deuce services have some weird flaw. One has a hump, one sexualizes infants, and one has a gaping tracheotomy scar on her neck from which cigarette smoke and red wine spew. In one of the most offensive bits, Deuce dates a woman from Chernobyl whose nose looks like a penis. When she sneezes…well, you figure it out. (And yes – we do see it happen, regrettably.) Of course, the woman with the penis nose eventually ends up getting her proboscis stuck in the neck of the woman with the tracheotomy. Maybe this makes Rob Schneider laugh. It makes me gag.

This film is an exercise in non-stop bad taste. It’s not even good bad taste, like a John Waters flick. No, it’s bad bad taste. I have never seen so many penis jokes in such a short period of time. If I had a dime for every time there was a penis joke – or even a reference to a penis – I would have gotten back my total admission price and had enough money left over to buy popcorn, candy, and soda at the concession stand. Sigmund Freud would say that Schneider (who co-wrote the screenplay) was stuck in the phallic stage of development. The movie also contains a scene in which T.J. eats french fries that have been dropped into a toilet. There are three separate shots of someone urinating, and one in which a college student defecates on a public street. You can’t have a movie like this without at least one groin injury joke, so a cat bites down on T.J.’s member and doesn’t let go. Rob Schneider should suffer the same fate for having thrust this atrocity upon the movie-going public!

For the record, I’m not opposed to humor that is raunchy, crude, or even borderline offensive. I love the films of John Waters, Kevin Smith, and the Farrelly Brothers – all filmmakers who revel in the joy of a good dirty joke or a naughty sight gag. But at least those guys give us stories worth being told and characters worth caring about. Who is there to care about in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo? No one. We sure don’t like Deuce, who would be a complete idiot if he had even a semblance of a personality. And since every single character is grotesque in some way, we don’t care about them either. As for the plot, is there anyone out there who really cares who the serial killer is?

I’ve heard other critics griping about this movie as though it were the first sign of the cinematic apocalypse. I didn’t hate it on that level. Yes, it’s sick and disgusting and unfunny, but I can deal with that. Mostly I was just stunned that Columbia Pictures spent $22 million dollars making this thing. There’s not a single moment where I believed that anyone involved in the film’s making cared about the product they were turning out. It’s badly written, poorly acted, incompetently directed, and completely, totally laughless. It’s a black hole in your local multiplex.

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo has a running time of one hour and seventeen minutes. On one hand, this is an outrage. The eventual DVD will doubtless have scores of deleted scenes. Why expect audience members to pay $7.50 (or more) for a movie that’s so short? On the other hand, at 77 minutes, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is about 76 minutes too long.

(1/2 out of four)


Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual humor, language, nudity and drug content. The running time is 1 hour and 17 minutes.

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