(R) 2.5 StarsEd Johnson-Ott

I had vaguely fond memories of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, so I watched it again about five hours before seeing its sequel. The 1999 R-rated comedy stars Rob Schneider as a sweet loser, an aquarium cleaner who stumbles his way into becoming a male prostitute. What tickled me about the film the first time I saw it was the jargon used by his boss in the sex-for-pay field. When pimp T.J. Hicks (Eddie Griffin) talked with Deuce, he called his employees "man-whores" and said things like, "Don't make me he-bitch man-slap you!" The terms were ridiculous and cumbersome, and hearing T.J incorporate them so effortlessly into his normal speech made me laugh. (L to R) Eddie Griffin, Michelle Marsh, Hanna Verboom, Rob Schneider and Becky Rule

Other parts of the movie made me laugh as well. I enjoyed some of the slapstick scenes involving Deuce; accidentally making a mess of a very expensive beach property and screwing up professional encounters with his "she-johns." Each of the women had personal conditions (obesity, narcolepsy, Tourette's syndrome, etc.) that made dating difficult for them. One of the hooks of the film was that, after his initial comic reactions to their situations, Deuce would show his true colors, treating each client with kindness and helping them find a way to better deal with their situations (he takes the woman with Tourette's syndrome to a baseball game, where her compulsive swearing is celebrated by others in the stands).

Sure, I squirmed over the notion of milking laughs from people with physical and mental limitations, but most of the scenes were funny. And the storybook resolutions were satisfying in some simplistic, dumb-ass way.

What I did not enjoy were the gross-out gags. What is it about bathroom functions and bodily fluids that people find so hilarious? How did we go from the fart jokes in the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles to what is depicted in many comedies now? Why do so many people enjoy going "Ewwwwwww!" I don't get it.

On second viewing, I noticed that the laughs in Deuce were spottier than I remembered. Still, when the film was funny, it was very funny. And the ridiculous love story worked for me. So there you go. I like Rob Schneider and I think low-brow humor can be just as rewarding as sophisticated fare. Sue me.

Which brings us to Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. This time, T.J. convinces Deuce to join him in Amsterdam, where prostitution is legal and the annual awards presented by the European society of man-whores is broadcast on television. Alas, there's trouble in paradise. Seems that someone is murdering the hookers. Or, as T.J. puts it, "Some she-john went on a man-bitch killing spree!"

In short order, T.J., who lives on a houseboat named "Pimp of da Sea," is accused of being the murderer. T.J. is frantic for help, saying, "Do you think the police will believe a black pimp with a dead prosti-dude in his flow-crib?" But what really upsets him is that the police and the press believe he is gay, which could ruin his credibility or something. Deuce goes to the rescue, leading to a new series of dates and a potential new girlfriend.

The jargon jokes and rude/sweet slapstick encounters with various she-johns return for the sequel and they still work. The Amsterdam setting pays off, as Schneider and company mine humor from European hostility to Americans and the freewheeling attitude towards marijuana. The concept of an upscale man-whore organization also delivers laughs (watch for Norm Macdonald, who gets a juicy cameo as a very Scottish man-whore).

On the down side, the movie has a lot of truly revolting gross-out gags. T.J.'s panicked reactions about how he is being perceived are another problem. The situations are funny, but I wonder if the young male target audience will understand that the homophobia is being mocked.

Bottom line: Like its predecessor, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo wallows in low humor with mixed results. Proceed with caution.


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