After 32 years of Saturday Night Live, you’d think Lorne Michaels and company would have the concept of making movies out of characters they create on television into characters for movies down to an art form. Unfortunately, for the movie-going public, they don’t. While they have had some success, like the Wayne’s World franchise, they have had more than their share of stinkers with It’s Pat, Stuart Saves his Family, Coneheads, Superstar, and The Ladies Man. Now, A Night at the Roxbury, another failed attempt to extend the lives of another set of odd characters, has its very own special collector’s edition DVD.
Steve (Will Ferrell) and Doug Butabi (Chris Kattan) are not brothers … yes, they are! Score! The head-bobbing, club-hopping Butabis have dreams, and their biggest is to get into the Roxbury, the one club that has evaded them for years. No matter how hard they try, no matter how many times they are rejected, they continue to return, night after night, with their colorful clubbing attire, unfunny jokes, and stories about an encounter with Emilio Estevez. They are a determined duo - stupid, but determined.
When the Butabis are not hitting the city streets, they are working at their father's (Dan Hedaya) fake flower shop, thinking of ideas for their own nightclub. They have no girlfriends, still live in the same neon light and disco ball infested bedroom, and have no luck on becoming an A-list clubber. Their luck, however, changes on one fateful night when their idol, Richard Grieco, crashes his sports car into the Butabis’ fake flower delivery van. Trying to avoid a lawsuit of any kind, the Roxbury regular invites the brothers to fulfill their destiny and club at the Roxbury. From there, their night and their lives begin to travel on a new road that still leads to nowhere. Score!
A Night at the Roxbury tries to build on the success of the five minute sketch from SNL, where the characters never speak, constantly bob their heads while listening to a cheesy dance song by Haddaway, and dance with gaggle of women who want nothing to do with them. The movie succeeds in using the same cheesy music and giving us two idiots with no social graces that like to go clubbing. One problem, though: they can talk now. It’s one thing to laugh at these characters when they’re bobbing their heads with the likes of Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, and Sylvester Stallone for five minutes on a comedy show, but it is a whole other ballgame when you’re forced to listen to them talk on top of their normal routine for 81 minutes. Some characters are not meant for the big screen and the Butabis are two of them.
I am a fan of Will Ferrell’s work, but this belongs in the trash bin with his soccer movie Kicking and Screaming, as well as anything else Kattan has done on his own. There is nothing that could have made this movie better or saved it from disaster other than just not making it in the first place. And it’s not like this movie didn’t have talent to work with outside of Ferrell. Other cast members include Molly Shannon, Loni Anderson, Colin Quinn, a young Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge, Dwayne Hickman, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Oscar-nominated actor Chazz Palminteri. This isn't a bad cast, just a concept that should have been left on television.
Director John Fortenberry tries to do the impossible: make a feature film out of nothing. Sure, there are a few laughs here and there (I mean, any movie that has characters idolizing Richard Grieco and choosing Emilio Estevez as their greatest celebrity encounter will garner some laughs), but they are recycled over and over, and wear out their welcome very quickly. Laughs fade, especially when the same tired joke is being stretched further than it was ever intended to be stretched. In fact, it’s much like me trying to write a review about a movie that uses the same, lame joke as its premise. I can talk about it for a while and keep it entertaining, but there comes a point where you just want it to end. Score!
If you’re a fan of the movie, and I don’t see how you can be, you were probably disappointed with the lack of special features when the DVD was first released for this 1998 film. Now, for some odd reason, nine years later, a special collector’s edition has arrived and all the features that were missing the first time around have suddenly appeared. Score!
After nearly 10 years, you think Paramount would be able to come up with something fans of the film would be happy to sit down and watch. Unfortunately, like the movie, they missed on all accounts, because the features are nothing special, and they’re certainly nothing a collector would be proud to add to their collection.
The main feature is called, “Score! Reliving A Night at the Roxbury.” This 24-plus minute feature has new and old interviews with Ferrell, Kattan, producer Lorne Michaels, writer Steve Koren, executive producer Robert K. Weiss, club owner Chris Breed and a bunch of other people you may or may not want to hear talk. It’s your typical, “We made this movie, now you have the choice of listening to us discuss why we’re so great” feature.
If you have a desire to learn about the costumes used in the film, there is a nine-minute feature called “Roxbury Rags: Costume and Fashion Guide,” where costume designer Mona May and others try to make dressing Ferrell and Kattan in painfully ugly attire seem more interesting than it ever could be. The same effect is also attempted in “Do That Dance,” where choreographer Mary Ann Kellogg, Weiss, and Kattan try to explain the motives behind dance moves such as the Butabis’ famous move where they thrust their crotches forward bumping women between them like a human pinball machine. Another dull features included on the disc has interviews with event planner Keith Collins, club security chief Brian Fitzpatrick, and Breed. It’s five minutes long, and it’s longer than needed to be spent talking to any of them.
The disc also includes trailers for Ferrell’s flick Blades of Glory and Eddie Murphy’s comedic failure Norbit.
When I got the disc, I expected to have some deleted scenes or bloopers. You know, something to make me laugh. But, there is nothing of the sort. It’s all interviews. Granted, some were funny, but most were things that I could care less about seeing. When you have funny people making a movie, there are bound to be some people messing up in some funny ways. Why not create a five minute blooper reel? Why not include a couple of the SNL sketches that made these characters famous? When making a comedy, even if the movie fails, the goal should still be to come away with some laughs. Unfortunately, this is no laughing matter.