Mark Batalla of PixelDrip Gallery is back once again, this time with a look at a high-concept laffer starring a former SNLer and, I believe, the only Survivor contestant to ever co-star in a mainstream film.

Logline: After receiving organ transplants from various animal donors, a man finds himself taking on the traits of those animals.

Unlike my previous 10YA posts, I feel that I have a significant bias that must be pointed out before proceeding. I’m an Asian/Pacific Islander and I am a strong supporter of athletes, artists, and entertainers of similar ethnic descent. That includes Manny Pacquiao, Keanu Reeves, Linkin Park, and of course, Rob Schneider. I am willing to see any of Schneider’s projects regardless of their quality. Paying for it is another matter entirely. After all, I’ve still got standards. To put it bluntly, Rob Schneider is my Tyler Perry.

It’s not like Rob Schneider is a horrible person. He’s still a professional comedic actor with years of film and television experience. Give him the right roles and direction, and he will have you rolling. Plus, there’s something endearing about a man that continues to put his mother in his films. In The Animal, Pilar Schneider plays Marvin’s neighbor, Mrs. De La Rosa.

Like any Happy Madison-produced film, the nuts and bolts are present in The Animal. It’s a simple premise with the comedy being written around Marvin’s attempts to impress his bosses or woo Rianna, despite his unexpected shifts toward animalistic behavior. Many of the jokes and gags can easily find their place in much loved shows like Futurama or Married With Children. It’s just the execution that prevents it from being a good movie. The Animal isn’t very subtle with its attempts at laughter. Either a character will overact with physical comedy or maybe the gag will go on for too long. It becomes especially problematic when the jokes are crude or trying to play off awkward moments. With all the references to masturbation and bestiality, it’s a wonder that this film is PG-13. It probably would have funnier as an R-rated movie along the same lines as Grandma’s Boy.

Is It Better Or Worse Than I Remember?

Better. WAIT! Don’t dismiss me just yet. It’s better, but The Animal is still a mediocre movie. It was very forgettable when I first saw it. When I called dibs to write about it on this blog, I was actually recollecting plot details from Deuce Bigalow and The Hot Chick. However, not knowing plot details almost made it seem like I was watching this movie for the first time. I found myself laughing at jokes I had forgotten about and even noticing some clever bits.

After receiving Dr. Wilder’s animal transplants, Marvin starts waking up in strange places following the night that some gruesome attack occured around town à la An American Werewolf in London. He confronts Dr. Wilder, and it is revealed that another person went through the same procedure as Marvin. The mystery and reveal of the second human/animal hybrid was actually pretty well done. When an angry mob chases Marvin into the woods, Chief Wilson and Rianna get separated in one area and Marvin’s friends, Fatty and Miles, at another. Chief Wilson looks menacingly at Rianna and tells her that it’s dangerous to be alone in the woods. The film then cuts to Fatty as he starts crumpling over in pain and apologizes to Miles that his hunger must be satiated. The next shot of Fatty shows him with red liquid around his mouth, but he’s actually just eating berries with Miles getting impatient.

Rianna reveals herself as the second hybrid, which makes sense. Throughout the movie, she is shown to be heavily empathic towards nature and even going to great lengths to protect it. She never reacts strongly against Marvin’s weird behavior, even though she sees him regurgitate a worm to feed a chick or chew massive amounts of wood to create a beaver dam.

Another clever element was the reverse racism running gag with Miles. When I first saw The Animal, I had never heard of the concept of treating a minority nice for fear of appearing racist. 10 years later, you still don’t really see the topic addressed, even as a joke. This runner actually serves a purpose. When the mob catches up with Marvin and Rianna, Miles admits that he is the monster. The mob, not wanting to take part in harming a black guy, gives up on the blood lust and disperses.

Free-Floating Thoughts

It may have been less than a minute at beginning of the film, but Pilar Schneider still managed to capture the essence of every Filipino mother around her age that I’ve ever met.

During Marvin’s obstacle course test, the Offspring’s “Original Prankster” is played. The song often repeats the “you can do it” line by Schneider’s character in The Waterboy. There’s another callback to this during Adam Sandler’s cameo, where he plays the same type of character and yells, “you can do it! Cut his freaking balls off!”

Colleen Haskell is pretty cute in this film. Although, she seems to have the same condition as Renée Zellwegger, Gilbert Gottfried, and French Stewart that prevents them from fully opening their eyes for extend periods of time.

The Animal came out four months before the first episode of Scrubs. You can already see John C. McGinley in full on Dr. Cox mode. He’s cocky, showing off his muscles, smiling through gritted teeth, and crossing his arms and then rubbing his index finger down the bridge of his nose when angry. Short of calling him girl’s names, Sergeant Sisk’s relationship with Marvin is the type of stuff that will fill up nine seasons of Scrubs.

I like that joke about the moronic Filipino airport attendant. If you’re going to do racial comedy it’s always nice to break away from tired stereotypes.

I don’t know how he does it, but Norm McDonald can carry any scene he’s in with his mumbly conversations.

I’m curious if any of the jokes will carry over into the upcoming Happy Madison film, Zookeeper.