I like movies, I really do. But sometimes the movies have to meet you halfway. Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is an extreme case of what is becoming a chronic pattern — desperately out of ideas and out of touch, Hollywood ignores critics and moviegoers and relapses into infancy. The early buzz about this project should have told them that it would be a disaster. I believe that everyone in America knew that a Deuce Bigalow sequel would be unsuccessful as soon as they learned of its existence… except apparently for the studio executives who approved it. Now here it is, and for a few weeks it will inspire embarrassed laughs from a few moviegoers here and overseas, and the usual round of incredulous bad reviews from critics, before following the usual trajectory into oblivion.
In the first Deuce Bigalow, Rob Schneider created an amusing character, probably the first male prostitute to carry a feature film aside from American Gigolo, and there’s no reason the joke couldn’t have lasted through a sequel or two, except one: Schneider is a non-presence on screen. Whether he’s wearing a diaper, swordfighting, or dancing to accordion music, or whatever else he’s doing, Schneider has no comedic appeal, nil.
The plot is also unpromising: Bigalow goes to Holland to hang out with his old pimp, T.J. (Eddie Griffin), who recruits him to track down a serial killer who is assassinating Europe’s he-whores. However, the movie manages to mine this premise for a few dumb laughs. A lot of the jokes in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo are at the expense of Amsterdam’s sex industry and overall permissiveness, and some of them are almost inspired. A harmless, dumb, slightly funny movie could have been made by focusing on Griffin’s pimp, Holland jokes, and a couple of amusing scenes at gatherings of the European man-whore union. Unfortunately, like its predecessor, Deuce Bigalow the 2nd wastes a lot of screen time on Deuce’s encounters with lady customers who have repulsive and unfunny deformities. These encounters — bizarre, mystifying, gross, completely misguided — make a film that should have been a groaner into a real puker. In fact, when I walked out of the theater after seeing this film, I had the same feeling you get after vomiting — queasy, shaky, empty.
Schneider would not be exhuming this character if he had any other ideas left. But it’s possible to feel sorry for the other actors in this film, especially Griffin, who is entertaining even with this dumbfoundingly bad material. Hanna Verboom is an appealing and funny newcomer who I’m afraid we’ll never see again. Why did they agree to make this movie? How could they? Seems like poverty would have been preferable.
Films like this wear their badness like a badge of honor and nothing that I can say can really hurt them. But Hollywood is experiencing a box-office decline along with its obvious artistic decline, which has studios on alert. Sure, a few blockbusters with broad appeal keep them in the black. But by continuing to approve loser projects like Deuce Bigalow they are running a risk. While dumb films sometimes make money, they also contribute to Hollywood fatigue, making the studios seem increasingly out of touch with reality.
Let me leave you with a thought experiment: Imagine if one morning all the major Hollywood studio execs went into work and found the walls of their offices covered in shit. It wouldn’t be pleasant for them. But for a minute, at least, they would know how we feel every weekend as we walk out of the theaters.
DVD extras include deleted scenes, featurettes, and mock infomercials. Ha!