Stand back and take notice, Hollywood, because on August 12, 2005, cinematic history was made: The artists behind Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo have ushered in the next level of greatness, providing moviegoers everywhere with the opportunity to experience pure, unadulterated celluloid magnificence. Indeed, the first of what I can only hope will be many, many Deuce Bigelow sequels may just be the finest movie of this generation, or any other for that matter; I have no doubt that the American Film Institute will need to reshuffle its top 100 after today, knocking Citizen Kane down a notch to make room for Rob Schneider’s magnum opus atop the list. So rarely has a movie left this critic at a loss, yet I simply cannot find the words to describe the joy that is watching European Gigolo. It is a tightly packed 85 minutes that rivals the finest works of Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock, and even the celebrated Brian Levant, who brought us such classics as Are We There Yet?, Problem Child 2, and Cuba Gooding’s career-maker, Snow Dogs.
I don’t even know where to begin with European Gigolo; plot regurgitation would do such a disservice to the finely honed structure, the rich metaphors, and the deeply suspenseful mystery embedded within the story. The film follows the hilarious antics of Deuce Bigalow, played with smart aplomb by the brilliant Rob Schneider, probably best known for his scene-stealing gritty “character” roles in most of Adam Sandler’s films (who produces here). The movie picks up several months or years after the original Deuce Bigelow; we find Deuce living in Malibu, mourning the recent loss of his wife in a shark attack. All he has left is her prosthetic leg, for which he builds a shrine, a plot device that is not only funny but heartwarming as well.
After Deuce accidentally prompts several dolphins to maul blind and disabled women, he flees the States and finds quick residence in Amsterdam, where his pimp from the original film, T.J., played by the stylish and masterful Eddie Griffin, takes him in. Quickly the movie’s narrative hook takes hold, grabbing us by the neck and immersing us deep in the seedy underworld of European gigolos, where an evil serial killer is on the loose, murdering Amsterdam’s male prostitutes one at a time with vicious delight. Before long, T.J. is not only mistaken for being the serial killer but even worse: People think he’s gay! It is then up to our hero, Deuce, to save the day by tracking down the real murderer and clearing his friend’s name before the Amsterdam police close the noose around him.
The writing here is sharp and witty, mixing the dark genius of Dostoyevsky with the divine, intelligent humor of Pynchon; Charlie Kaufman has found his match in Rob Schneider, who not only stars in the lead role, but is responsible for a screenplay that features such finely written lines as the following: “Get off my titty, you doped up cracker,” and the radiantly rhetorical “Can’t a brother put his hands down a dead man’s pants without everyone thinking he’s a faggot?!” You have to hand it to Schneider here for his generous treatment of homosexuals, too. If that weren’t enough, Schneider even finds room within the limited run time to fit in spot on allusions to the classic films Catholic School Girls are Easy and the amazing Weekend at Bernies.
Later, the film even features tongue-in-cheek yet nuanced scenes in which one of Deuce’s “she-johns,” born in Chernobyl, reveals that she has a penis on her nose. Schneider somehow manages to bring to the forefront the horror of Russia’s nuclear tragedy by depicting this woman shooting semen through her penis-nose whenever she sneezes, leaving trails of ejaculate all over the dance floor — and even in a poor gentleman’s soup, where he unsuspectingly swallows it — reminding us that the horrific nuclear catastrophe of the Soviet Union affects us all equally. We can only hope and pray that in future sequels, Schneider might find ways to satirize the deaths of millions of people in the Holocaust or the destruction of thousands of New Yorkers in the 9/11 attacks with such comedic brilliance.
First time director Mike Bigelow makes a mockery of the efforts of the Martin Scorseses and Quentin Tarantinos of the past, painting a raw, nightmarish vision of Amsterdam, educating us all about the darker sides of the soul, and exploring with such skill the fears and aches of the contemporary life of male prostitutes. Griffin — as the pimp of a male prostitution ring — shines here, finally giving the African-American community a character to be proud of, Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and Jamie Foxx be damned. Why Mr. Griffin, who is also responsible for the stellar Undercover Brother, is not cast in more films like this is beyond me — talents like his should not go unused.
But the real star of the show here is Schneider, who may very well be the thespian successor to Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino; in Schneider’s hands, European Gigolo proved itself to be the best sequel, hands down, that I’ve seen since Godfather Part II. His performance zeroes in on what it feels like to be a real “man whore,” exposing all the vulnerabilities attached to a man who must use his “twatsicle” to save the world from murderous “she-johns.” Schneider’s performance is both gripping and powerful and simply has to be remembered come Oscar time. Indeed, thinking back on Schneider’s performance now, there is only one word that can do it justice, and that is: Dignity.
Unfortunately, I may never know how European Gigolo ended; I was unable to weave my way through the dazzling maze of red herrings before I was so overcome with the greatness of European Gigolo that I simply had to leave. As fine as the first hour of Deuce Bigelow was, I felt sure that the last half-hour could only disappoint. And besides, the high that I’d attained from huffing several cans of paint thinner had begun to wear off, and I needed a refresher.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba and managing partner of its parent company, which prefers to remain anonymous for reasons pertaining to public relations. He lives in Ithaca, New York.Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | May 13, 2006 | Comments ()