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The Animal

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Animal

Starring: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell
Director: Luke Greenfield
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: John C. McGinley, Edward Asner, Michael Caton, Cloris Leachman, Michael Papajohn, Guy Torry

Review by Harvey Karten
No Rating Supplied

The creationists had it wrong and now I'm not so sure about the Darwinians. We human beings did not simply evolve from animals: we ARE animals. If the silly but often funny comedy from Joe Roth's Revolution Studios has any major idea to convey, it is the well-worn verity that beneath our thin layer of civilized skin lies a thick mess of animal instincts itching to emerge but kept down, so to speak, by the rules of polite society. In Tom Brady's screenplay--which is, thank goodness, only mildly vulgar, always remembering that polite society has dropped into the theater with kids to watch-- Marvin (Rob Schneider) represents both the nerdy exterior so common to many of us and the libidinous urges that we sublimate and compensate for whenever we go to work or play a quick game of pick-up (basketball).

Marv's with forensics in the police force of a small town and though he's not a uniformed cop, he dreams of becoming one. After going beyond the call of duty in pursuit of felons, he has a terrible accident which knocks him out, but his life is saved by a mad scientist, Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton), who patches him up with the organs culled from his lab collection of goats, dogs, cats, horses and chimps. After detecting heroin by sniffing the rear of a passenger at the airport, Marvin is lionized, inducted into the police force as a full officer, and now possesses the confidence to introduce himself to a cutie running an animal shelter, Rianna (Colleen Haskell in her debut role). From then on, Luke Greenfield directs the human beast into a series of skits that could have been gleaned from Saturday Night Live, giving Schneider a chance to show off his considerable comedic talents.

Besides proving that we people are all animals, the movie demonstrates that human beings are not at all superior to our brothers and sisters in our own kingdom. When Marv takes on the dimensions of a seal, he saves the mayor's son; a dog, he sniffs out drugs and runs sixty miles per hour; a chimp, he swings from branches like Michelle Yeoh, eluding the cops, particularly his hostile and envious partner Sgt. Sisk (John C. McGinley).

If you like girl-next-door types as I do (Renee Zellweger for example,) you'll fall big for Colleen Haskell and in general you'll realize that when physical comedy stays within the bounds of reasonable decency, it can begin to approach the merits of the screwball comedies of the thirties that make the world forget the Depression for a while.

Copyright 2001 Harvey Karten

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