The Animal
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG-13 // June 30, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted August 15, 2001
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I am glad to admit that I enjoyed "The Animal". No, I'm not really that much of a fan of Adam Sandler (who produced here)'s films anymore, although "Happy Gilmore" still remains a low-brow classic. Schneider's suprise hit "Deuce Bigalow" had its share of laughs, but didn't get too many solid laughs out of me. What has made both of his recent films work is that they know exactly what they are: silly, jokey vehicles that are good-natured and not very mean-spirited, but still not without a slight edge to it all.

Schneider plays Marvin, a wannabe police officer who is made fun of by his neighbors, their pets, his co-workers, visiting children on field trips - you get the idea, the guy's a loser. One day, he gets into a rather horrific car crash and is saved by a oddball doctor who lives out in the woods, who puts spare animal parts inside him. Finding himself awake and out in the middle of nowhere, Marvin goes on with his life, thinking his newfound senses and abilities are due to his drinking the powerful "badger milk" that he's seen on a TV infomerical.

Around this time he meets a tree-hugging, animal-shelter working girl named Rianna (Colleen Haskell from the first "Survivor") and the two have a nice romance, although after a dinner date he marks his territory on her doorstep. Haskell is not only wonderful, but suprisingly terrific in the role. She doesn't get that much screen time, but she has a light, sweet presence that's accessable and engaging. If she doesn't get more parts, it would certainly be a shame. And, it's also nice to see that she seems to have survived "Survivor" with relatively few scratches (seeing a clip of her badly bruised and bug-eaten legs on the "Survivor" highlights DVD was rather gross).

Anyways, "Animal" delivered exactly what I expected - no more, no less. It was nice not to have to sit through a low-brow comedy that used fart jokes every few minutes (cough, cough..."Evolution"...), although I'm sure that a few went by during the proceedings. There's also a few decent supporting performances from John C. McGinley and Ed Asner. Even the always amusing (although I seem to be the only one who thinks so) Norm MacDonald pops up in an extended cameo. The ending is even sufficently entertaining - the whole thing works because Schneider tries hard to sell the material, and, for once in a comedy this Summer, it's actually funny stuff.

It's not going to be mentioned at the Oscars (sorry Rob, no best actor statue), but I certainly enjoyed myself during its brisk 90 minutes and had some good laughs, which seems to be a rarity this Summer.


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