Deuce Bigalow takes a special brand of humor to Europe

Flatulence and the shame surrounding genitalia provide few laughs in Rob Schneider's latest flick

By Ned Martel  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Fri, Sep 30, 2005 - Page 16

In his 1999 debut, Deuce Bigalow emerged as a shameless beach bum, driving a clunker in a land of Porsche Cayennes, cleaning the scum from the fish tanks of the rich and famous.

A housesitting gig leads Deuce, played by Rob Schneider, into the oldest profession, and he makes the most of his various dates. As a companion for hire who charges only US$10, he persuades women to reveal their hurts and faults (some are quite obvious), and they get more than they pay for: healing, and not necessarily the sexual kind. Each hokey vignette is mockery disguised as self-help.

Six blessedly Deuce-free years later, the character's creators, including Schneider's former Saturday Night Live cast mate Adam Sandler, are up to their old exploits in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. They spend the film's full 77 minutes making jokes about passed gas, ethnic differences, disabilities and the shame surrounding genitalia. Setting their film in Europe gives them a wider world of cultural stereotypes to milk. In the laissez-faire haven of Amsterdam, Deuce tries to gain acceptance in a guild of gigolos by protecting his colleagues from a homicidal predator who is thinning their ranks.

The material is also wearing thin. Last time, the script chose Tourette's syndrome and limb amputation as grounds for derision, and this time it's blindness, obsessive-compulsive disorder, the removal of a larynx and even one made-up affliction that involves a woman with a penis where her nose should be.

Eddie Griffin is back as T.J., riffing on the caricature of an African-American pimp. He is the purveyor of most of the movie's insults, with his unfunny venom usually directed at Asians and gay men. (Charitably, he tries to pay one gay man a compliment by explaining that he sees him as "a normal gay, not a crazy gay -- like a musical-theater gay.") Then when photographers catch T.J. reaching inside two corpses' zippers, he explains that he doesn't mind being accused of murder so much as he fears people will think that he is gay.

Despite the story's claims that Deuce soothes the lonely ladies, there is an essential meanness to the entire project, tapping the manipulative power of taunts. Such jokes don't jibe with the times, the culture or the rebranded Adam Sandler, who has been vying for plaudits and legitimacy in Spanglish and Punch-Drunk Love. Here he helps out his old friend Schneider with a cameo appearance and takes a step backward. These two fraudulent funny men are banking on some cynical formula that mixes the happy-go-lucky and the hurtful, the curative and the destructive.