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THE ANIMAL

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Rob Schneider, Colleen Haskell, John C. McGinley, Guy Torry, Edward Asner
Director: Luke Greenfield
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 83 Minutes
Release Date: October 30, 2001

“What's in me?”

“When I found you, you were more dead than alive, and the only way to save you was by radical transpecies ectomy.”

“What does that mean?”

“I put animal parts in you.”

“WHAAAT?!”

Film **1/2

After enjoying the frequent laughs and all around friendly feel of Dr. Dolittle 2, it safe to say that unfortunate timing plays a crucial part in why I can't give the same about The Animal, yet another animalistic comedy I am viewing no less than a week after DD2, even though I had already seen that one in the theater. This movie doesn't concern animals talking like humans, but instead a human acting a whole lot like many animals. The movie does have individual moments of hilarity, especially in the early stage of the movie, but after about midway through the movie, the comedy seems to disappear and the story itself becomes nothing short of uninvolving.

Rob Schneider, one of the few former SNL members that actually turn out decent comedies (see Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo), stars as Marvin Mange, an easily likeable but frequently picked on police evidence clerk. Marvin hopes to soon become a real policeman, though he finds the obstacle course to be the hardest part of making it to the force. He also finds himself constantly the target of attacks and pranks of everything from dogs to children to even senior citizens, not to mention fellow cohorts on the force who take Marvin for nothing else than a pure loser.

Then Marvin gets into a horrendous car accident while en route to a robbery call in. All bent up and unconscious, he is soon saved by a mad doctor, or veterinarian, who pieces Marvin back together by putting different animal parts in his body. This, of course, allows Marvin to behave, maneuver, and fight crime like all crazy animals can. To give you a hint of what Marvin can do, he is now able to fetch Frisbees like a dog, gallop like a horse, swim like a dolphin, oh, and become attracted to a female goat like any aroused male goat…uh, you get my point.

The bottom line is that the movie started out very good, delivering laughs scene after scene. An early scene where Marvin fails to pass an obstacle course exercise by applying his bullet proof vest on the wrong body part made me come close to falling out of my chair laughing. It does master a certain level of physical comedy in the early moments. But once the movie concentrates on Marvin's animal instincts, it some how makes the viewer, or at least me, lose the interest that I had in the early scenes. When the movie decides to conclude with a town mob hunting after Marvin, I thought to myself why the screenwriters couldn't create a more fresh, or at least interesting approach.

The Animal isn't a great movie, but it's far from a bad one. It's simply one I'm in the mix on. I can say this; I'm actually grateful to the fact that the movie did some considerable amount of business, because I've long been a fan of Rob Schneider, and I'm hoping that this will mean more comedies with his name on it.

Video ****

This is a bright, lively, wonderful anamorphic transfer from the folks at Columbia Tri Star. There is never a dull looking moment in the presentation, with completely vibrant colorization and an all around crisp, clear image that stays throughout the movie. A pleasant presentation, much in the CTS quality form, and given its Special Edition labeling, it's just the kind of quality transfer one would expect.

Audio ***

One would be somewhat hard pressed to find a comedy with state of the art sound quality. Though there have been exceptions in the past, the sound job on The Animal is a fair and good enough transfer. The 5.1 audio job provides terrific use of soundtrack score and distinct sound effects. The scenes of Marvin getting into his various animal modes are the best moments on the disc, because they provide good sound pick up on upper area speakers, as well as side-surrounding ones, as well.

Features ****

When Columbia Tri Star labels their disc with “Special Edition”, they mean just that, and the extras on The Animal deserve the label a hundred percent. First off, we have two commentaries; one with Rob Schneider which in its entirety is just as funny as the movie itself. Schneider constantly finds wonderful moments to poke fun at certain moments in the movie. The second commentary is from director Luke Greenfield. Also included are some deleted scenes titled “Badger Delivery”, two behind the scenes featurettes, including a Comedy Central Reel Comedy Special, a game called “What's in Marvin”, and trailers for this movie and three other CTS releases; Joe Dirt, Big Daddy, and The Cable Guy.

Summary:

The Animal is a simple hit and miss affair. It has its moments of terrific physical comedy, but it needed a better direction in the last half. Not a great movie, but not a bad one at all.