Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Screwed (2000)

A Hilarious Modern Screw Ball Comedy

- Screwed (2000) will not go down in history as a landmark film; it does not have Oscar-caliber elements or even a plausible story. But, uh.... what were you expecting from a screwball comedy? Screwed is absolutely hilarious - screwball comedy at its best.

The great Norm MacDonald stars as Willard Fillmore, the loyal but disgruntled butler to pastry tycoon Miss Crock (played superbly by Elaine Stritch). Following his deceased father's advice ("Stick with Miss Crock, you'll get ahead") Willard has remained retained by Miss Crock despite being despised and abused ("Suddenly I realized, that, uh, I don't have a pension plan, I don't have a health plan, I don't have a dental plan...."). Finally, Willard cannot take it anymore and, after a ho-ho-hellish eruption at Crock on Christmas Eve, he discovers that he will be fired the next day.

After hearing this news, Willard and his best bud, restaurant manager Rusty P. Hayes (played by the hilarious Dave Chappelle), set out to give Miss Crock the big screw: steal her beloved Pomeranian and hold him for ransom for one million dollars. But things get complicated when the dog gets away and returns home Toto-style, all the while signs of a scuffle and a ransom note ("Pay us one million dollars or he's a dead dog") are left behind, leaving Miss Crock and the police to believe that Willard was kidnapped. From here events get even more complicated and screwy.

The reason Screwed is so funny and ultimately works well as an overall film can be credited, in a very large part, to perfect casting. Norm MacDonald and Dave Chappelle are two of my very favorite comedians and they make a great comedic team. Both are absolutely hilarious with exclusively individual comedic styles: MacDonald has a knack for delivering zany and ridiculous comedy in as dry of a way as possible and Chappelle is very loud and animated as only he can be. Plus, both MacDonald and Chappelle are just great leads, making each character their very own. MacDonald especially does a great job, I really do not buy into the idea that MacDonald is a comic who cannot act - he is incredibly expressive in this film.

The great casting does not end with MacDonald and Chappelle, however. Three-time Emmy winner Elaine Stritch is excellent as the grumpy and selfish Miss Crock. Stritch is a stitch - she plays a vain old woman but does it in a hilariously bombastic way while managing to create sympathy for her mean character. Also, Danny Devito is outrageous as creepy diener Grover Cleaver and Daniel Benzali is great as the "evil Cojack" Detective Tom Dewey trying to solve the case - familiar faces Sherman Hemsley and Sarah Silverman also co-star.

The two-headed writer/directing team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (writers of Ed Wood (1994), The People Vs. Larry Flint (1996), and Man On The Moon (1999)) are the force behind the film. Most of the story is implausible and most sane people would not do what most of the characters in the film do; however, Alexander and Karaszewski do create one extremely funny film with many great gags, situations, and characters. Willard and Rusty are stupid - there are no two ways about it - but the characters are so likable and funny, thanks in large part to MacDonald and Chappelle, and it is easy to go along with them for the ride.

Screwed might be a far-fetched comedy - maybe even a stupid one - but it is very funny, and what else would you want it to be?

CBC Rating: 8/10

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