Facts and Figures
Run time: 84 mins
In Theaters: Friday 1st June 2001
Box Office USA: $54.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $84.8M
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Production compaines: Revolution Studios, Happy Madison
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 58
IMDB: 4.8 / 10
The Animal Review
Modern comedy comes from its ability to not take its story or its characters seriously. The Farrelly brothers and Woody Allen have taught us that. Recent failures like Joe Dirt and Schneider's last film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo owe themselves to a seriousness they try to create by treating their main characters as martyrs for the audience to sympathize with and pity. The Animal does no such thing, avoiding this common mistake totally and developing into an enjoyable and hilarious 90 minutes.
Our tale: Marvin Mage (Schnieder) is a loser to the tenth degree. He makes Screech from Saved by the Bell look like a romantic lead in a Shakespearean tragedy. Stuck with the lowly job of file clerk for the local police force, Marvin longs for the glory and honor of becoming a real police officer like his dearly departed father. When Marvin answers a 911-robbery call, he ends up in one of the funniest car crashes ever imprinted on celluloid. A deranged scientist (Michael Canton) rescues Marvin from the wreckage, rebuilds his body RoboCop-style with animal parts (refugees from a traveling Mexican circus), and Marvin's newfound animal instincts naturally kick into full effect when he's released back into the general population.
Stupid? Yes. I just never would have thought a cross-dressing monkey doing the moonwalk would be so damn funny.
Marvin meets and falls in love with the chick from the first season of Survivor (Colleen Haskell), uses his extra-keen sense of smell to sniff out drugs from perpetrators' rectal areas, rescues a drowning boy Flipper-style, consumes enough Slim Jims to keep Macho Man Randy Savage happy, humps a mailbox, and tries to make sweet love to a goat in heat. Again: Stupid? Yes. But the bizarre situations dreamed up by screenwriters Schneider and Tom Brady work, and Schneider sells it for all he's worth. Trust me --it's funny. Very funny. I'm almost ashamed that I laughed out loud so much.
The only real problem is that it all falls apart in the end, a good idea stretched way beyond its limits. The script degrades with too many plot twists, relying on cameos from Norm Macdonald and Adam Sandler for comic relief in its last 20 minutes. In the end, it's, ahem, beating a dead horse.
With The Animal under his belt, Schneider demonstrates that the innate comedic talent I witnessed years ago is still down there somewhere. Let's just hope this isn't a fluke for the Richmeister.
Would you believe they put a man's head in the moon?