1998, PG-13, 81 min. Directed by Bob Saget. Starring Norm Macdonald, Jack Warden, Artie Lange, Traylor Howard, Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Rebecca Romijn.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 19, 1998
How on earth it happened that otherwise reputable bands such as KMFDM, Chumbawamba, Green Day, and the Reverend Horton Heat managed to end up on the soundtrack to this screamingly awful, achingly unfunny comedy is a testament to the confusing vagaries of big-label marketing. Obviously, the logic followed the bad-movie/good-soundtrack line of thought, but even with some decent-if-dated tunes, the leading turn of former Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” anchor (and newfound NBC whipping boy) Norm Macdonald has a fun factor only slightly below that of maggoty roadkill steaming in the noonday sun. There are bad films, and then there are bad films, the kind that make you squeal like Ned Beatty on a spit, and unfortunately, Dirty Work falls into the latter category. It doesn't help matters much that the late Chris Farley appears as olfactorially-denuded gargantua, bereft of wit and any semblance of fat-guy charm, in this, his final celluloid screed. SNL buddy Sandler cameos as well -- as the devil, no less -- though with conscious forethought he wisely chooses to remain unbilled. The plot, hastily cobbled together by Macdonald and SNL cronies Frank Sebastiano and Fred Wolf, has Macdonald's Mitch Weaver opening a revenge-for-hire business with childhood pal Sam McKenna (Lange). Mitch is an inveterate sap, unable to hold a job or a girl, and also a master at the art of cringing. When Sam's perpetually apoplectic, whoremonger dad (Warden as the aptly named Pops) suffers a heart attack, the pair scheme to raise the cash for a coronary transplant via the vendetta biz. Operating under the motto “Revenge is sweet… and surprisingly affordable,” they generate income hand over fist, though their pranks are annoyingly sophomoric. Popcorn on the engine block of one victim, dead fish in the drawers of another, Dirty Work is less dirty than it is tedious, an ongoing panoply of witlessness. Macdonald is unaccountably bland here, which is unexpected since his lo-level, monotone snottiness is usually at least good for a grin or two. With Dirty Work though, he's fashioned an 80-minute harangue out of 10 minutes of material, an SNL sketch gone horribly awry, and one that drags on long after its daily ration of humor has been exhausted. I won't even begin to get into the eerily disturbing production design (primary colors times 10). “Note to self: Next time, let someone else write the movie.”