Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dirty Work (1998)

Starring Norm MacDonald, Artie Lange, et al
Rated PG-13, 82 minutes

I’m a fan of Norm MacDonald’s. As a kid, I was mad they replaced Kevin Nealon, but when I grew up and watched the reruns, I was howling at Norm’s “Update.” He’s got a lot of the same qualities I appreciate in David Letterman – his style of delivery and bluntness therein makes some really simple, stupid jokes very, very funny. So this movie was a natural view for me, and as I’m sure you can guess, I think it’s pretty underappreciated.

“Dirty Work” is the story of Mitch Weaver (MacDonald), a guy who formerly took no crap from anybody who now takes crap from everybody. He loses his job and his girlfriend, and turns to his lifelong best friend Sam McKenna (Lange). They start to engage in the same take-no-crap revenge they enjoyed as kids. Just as they’re celebrating their latest scheme, Sam’s father has a heart attack. He needs a transplant – one they’ll get faster if they can get $50,000 to pay off their crooked doctor’s bookie. Yeah. So they turn revenge into a business.

While it’s not the most solid plot, it is very funny from top to bottom. And the way a number of the jokes from earlier in the movie tie in to the end is a mini-masterpiece. The Norm MacDonald humor is used to perfection in some choice scenes. For example, young Mitch had a problem with a crossing guard who groped all the kids. So he puts super glue on his butt and shouts for the whole world, “hey, crossing guard grabbing an 8-year-old’s ass over here! Hey look!”

It’s loaded with a lot of funny people too. The token asshole in the movie is played by Christopher McDonald. SNL alums Chris Farley, David Koechner and Adam Sandler have small roles. Gambling-addicted Dr. Farthing is played by Chevy Chase. One of their bosses is Don Rickles. Character actor Jack Warden (Big Ben from “Problem Child”) is Sam’s father.

If you like Norm, then it’s an easy watch and one you’ll enjoy as much as I did. For anybody else, I don’t know how to recommend it, but I enjoyed “Dirty Work” to the tune of…


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