Dir: Mike Bigelow. US.2005. 83mins.
The comic novelty ofshort, dark and not so handsome Rob Schneider playing a likeably inept'man-whore' helped turn 1999 gross-out comedy Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolointo a surprise hit - but it's wearing pretty thin in this belated sequel.Schneider and co attempt to make up the difference by milking the sequel'sEuropean setting and supporting cast for easy and very broad laughs. Yet theirefforts still leave Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo feeling like alistless and not very necessary coda to the original film.
Producedby distributor Sony and Adam Sandler's Happy Madison (which made the first filmfor Disney's Touchstone), the R-rated sequel hits US cinemas this weekend. Thevideo popularity of the original will provide the sequel with a built-inopening weekend audience, but even equalling the $65.5m domestic gross of theoriginal - which came out as Christmas season counter-programming and rode thelate-nineties gross-out comedy wave - could be tricky.
Schneider'sfilms have never done well outside the US, but in this case the internationalperformers and locations (most of the film was shot on the streets ofAmsterdam) should spark some extra interest so the sequel stands a chance atleast of outdoing the original's modest $27.4m gross.
FormerSaturday Night Live star Schneider worked with TV writers David Garrettand Jason Ward on a screenplay that hangs its comedy on a thin and very sillynarrative thread.
Nowretired from his life as an all-American 'prosti-dude,' Deuce (Schneider) takesa trip to Amsterdam to visit his former pimp TJ (Griffin, from UndercoverBrother). When TJ is implicated in the murder of some of Europe's greatestgigolos, Deuce has to get back in the game to find the real killer and clearhis friend.
Hisdetective work is hampered by the snooty members of the Royal Order of EuropeanMan-Whores (among them Heinz Hummer, played by German star Schweiger) and byreal Amsterdam detective Gaspar Voorsboch (Dutch veteran Krabbe). The haplessDeuce gets moral support from Voorsboch's pretty niece Eva (Dutch TV presenterVerboom).
Justlike the first film, the sequel finds a lot of its comedy in the very conceptof male prostitutes - a concept that's set off here by the background ofAmsterdam's red light district - and in the women who use them. This time out,Deuce's clients include one woman with a hump, another with a penis for a nose,and another with a tracheotomy hole. Meanwhile Eva, Deuce's real love interest,suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Thecomedy that ensues is usually more silly than gross. Most importantly, though,it's not that funny.
Thereare a number of gags about Europeans' anti-American feelings in the wake of theIraq war (though the film seems to carefully avoid taking a side in thatargument). And there is a lot of flimsy and predictable comic filler, some ofit mildly amusing but some of it apparently added just to push the running timea few ticks past the 80-minute mark.
What'slargely missing is comedy derived from Deuce's character and unsuitability forhis profession. That kind of comedy gave the first film some heart and offsetthe gross-out gags. Its absence contributes to the sequel's sketchy feel.
Withless focus in the script on Deuce himself, Schneider takes more of a back seatin the sequel, leaving some of the comic work to other cast members. Griffin -the only other cast member returning from the first film - adds some energy tothe early scenes but his role soon turns into a series of brief appearances inodd disguises. Verboom is appealing enough in her subsidiary role.
Briefcameos from Norm Macdonald, Adam Sandler, British TV's Johnny Vaughn and acouple of MTV Europe personalities might help the film get additionalpromotional exposure.
Sony Pictures Releasing International
Glenn S Gainor
James L Venable