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Rated [PG-13]
Starring Norm MacDonald, Dave Chappelle, Danny DeVito, Elaine Strich
Screenplay by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski
Directed by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

IN SHORT: Like a 90 minute long bad Saturday Night Live skit

Poor Norm MacDonald. Fired from Saturday Night Live in mid-season when the West Coast suit-in-charge decided that he "wasn't funny." Making teevee commercials. Waiting for that perfect writing team . . .

which Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski might have been if they had stuck to serious stuff like Ed Wood, People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon. Instead, they choose to make their directorial roots by strip-mining the lackadaisical comedy motherload they've used for Problem Child and Problem Child 2 and written for video (but released on screen) That Darn Cat. Those flicks weren't funny, and neither is this one. The only folk getting screwed are those that are paying hard cash.

To be honest, that doesn't include me. The movie studio did not screen this flick for the press, but there was a way for me to get in to see this flick a day early, at ten-thirty in the morning in a private screening room, and I took it. We know from past experience (see Austin Powers) that these are not the best circumstances to watch comedy but, hey, I thought MacDonald was funny on SNL and Danny DeVito can make rust shine. Half a gallon of caffeine and I was ready to rock.

Screwed nearly put me to sleep. Literally. The story of Willard Fillmore (MacDonald), manservant to the infinitely rich, and just as nasty, cookie baking old coot who rewards him at Christmas with a pair of promotional cufflinks and an extra heaping of verbal abuse. Norm decides he wants cash, and with best bud (Dave Chappelle), conspires to kidnap the old witch's beloved dog for a million dollars ransom. They are inept, to say the least. The dog takes it on the chin worse than in a Farrelly Bros. movie and still comes out on top. That means Norm could stand accused . . . of kidnaping himself. Knowing he can't be in two places at the same time, like in the witness chair and in the defendant's docket, Norm and Dave bribe pasty faced coroner Grover Cleaver (DeVito) to fake a dead body for him.

I kinda liked the play on the Presidential names as a gag. Too bad it's so underdeveloped. As for the rest, there are perhaps half a dozen gags in this thing that didn't make it into the trailer or television commercial. A pair or three are genuinely funny but, even with the I-Wish-I-Was-fourteen-So-This-Would-All-Seem-Funny head screwed in place, almost all of Screwed was on a level fit to cure insomniacs of their problem. The biggest problem for me, and this is after I shut down the "it doesn't have to make sense to be funny" sensors in the back of the cerebellum, was that jokes involving major physical injury were forgotten at the snip of a pair of editing shears. You watch, if you're silly enough to pay for this dud, what the dog does to Norm's hand. Then watch what happens in the next scene. We'll see more of this "do the joke, forget that you did the joke in the next scene" next week, in a different flick.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Screwed, he would have paid...


Screwed would have offered more comic joys if the competing film Whipped had been released as scheduled, in direct competition. Think of it: Whipped and Screwed in the same week. It child have been a comic reporting field day. As is, it's just zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

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