Screwed

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No one’s saying “Screwed” is any brilliant piece of comedic genius. But if you find Norm MacDonald or Dave Chappelle funny, you’ll be at least mildly entertained by this little speck of a film.

MacDonald plays Willard, the life-long butler of the rich and evil Virginia Crock (Elaine Stritch), a pie-making business tycoon. When Willard learns that Crock plans to fire him — and really, it is he who should be complaining to her, not the other way around — he decides to extort some money out of her somehow, to make up for all the wrongs she’s done him all these years.

Enter Rusty (Dave Chappelle), Willard’s friend and owner of Rusty’s Chicken Hole restaurant. Together, they scheme to kidnap Crock’s beloved dog Muffin and hold it for ransom. The dog escapes, but not before biting Willard and getting his blood all over the place. In the morning, Crock and her associates assume Willard to have been kidnapped, and bowing only to public pressure, she agrees to pay the ransom (even though she’d just as soon let the kidnappers kill him).

Things continue to go wrong, of course, with the ransom money turning up missing, someone double-crossing Crock, and I believe there’s a corpse involved somewhere. Then the movie ends and everyone goes home happy.

Characterization is not the issue here, but MacDonald, Chappelle and Stritch all seem to be having fun, anyway, with Stritch especially going the extra mile to make so-so lines seem just a little funnier. Rusty has a tendency to hit people over the head with lamps when he gets scared, which provides a nice running gag, and MacDonald’s delivery as Willard is typical Norm MacDonald: deadpan, sarcastic, and favoring the word “whore.” He’s one of those actors whom you either find funny or not, regardless of the material.

The material here is not stellar. The plot has holes in it (though it is a fun idea), and many opportunities for comedy are missed. There are also too many examples of being weird just for the sake of being weird. (Character names — Willard Fillmore, Rusty P. Hayes, Grover Cleaver — resemble the names of U.S. presidents; one person has an obsession for Jack Lord; etc.) But, even while expecting the movie to suck mightily, I found myself laughing a few times here and there.

C+ (; PG-13, occasional profanity, brief non-sexual nudity, slapstick violence, vulgarity.)

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