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"It’s this or a Spartan Cheerleaders movie. You really want that?"
Will Ferrell (Dick), Chris Kattan (Monkeybone), Dan Hedaya (Joe Versus the Volcano) Molly Shannon (Year of the Dog), Richard Grieco (If Looks Could Kill), Jennifer Coolidge (Best In Show), Michael Clarke Duncan (Daredevil), Chazz Palminteri (Jade), Loni Anderson (Stroker Ace)
The Butabi brothers, Steve (Ferrell) and Doug (Kattan), live to party– so you’d think they’d be better at it. A chance encounter with Richard Grieco (himself) turns their fortunes around.
"I know we’re a little late, Mr. Nolan, but have you considered re-casting the Joker?"
I think the first time I knew I was getting older was when I saw the posters for this movie back in 1998 and realized I must have stopped watching Saturday Night Live somewhere along the way or I would have known who these characters were. A Night at the Roxbury came near the end of Lorne Michaels’ quest to get a feature film made out of every single catch-phrase his cast could generate, and it’s possibly the least promising basis for a movie out of the bunch. When you consider that this group includes It’s Pat, Superstar, and The Ladies’ Man that’s saying a lot.
So it’s surprising to find that Roxbury is actually pretty good, if formulaic. Perhaps it’s an advantage that the characters as performed on TV were almost completely undefined– for the film, somebody actually had to sit down and ask, ‘who are these people and where did they come from?’ The answer: a nouveau-riche immigrant family from the Middle East, and here’s where it gets interesting. Although the leads never play it up (Ferrell does his Dumb Guy voice, Kattan* does his Annoying Guy voice) this is, by default, one of the only Hollywood films ever to star sympathetic Arab American characters in a present-day, nonpolitical context.
"Nobody leaves until I find out who put my shirts in the cotton candy machine!"
A Night at the Roxbury also benefits from a strong supporting cast. Molly Shannon (channeling Madeline Kahn) and Lochlyn Munro both do nice work fleshing out minor roles, and Palminteri looks like he’s having fun as an ass-obsessed club owner. Even Grieco gets a moment to shine.
We get a surprisingly generous package of supplements here– it’s all newly-produced stuff, though Ferrell and Kattan only appear in EPK footage. Making the List is the most interesting of the featurettes, with interviews from several real-life club professionals. Best bit: a veteran doorman concedes that the Butabis would probably have no trouble getting into his club, due to their novelty factor.
… and the boys never tried to hit on the infamous Wedgie Queen ever again.
*In fact, Mr. ‘Mango’ is of Iraqi descent on his father’s side. Who knew?