Playing on the old theme of the scorned getting back at their
scorners, Norm Macdonald and Artie Lange wreak havoc in Dirty
Work. The two appear as close friends, Mitch and Sam, who never
even made a hairline fracture into the realm of popularity, but
always had each other to kick around. Mitch (Macdonald) is the
dominant one, thin and wiry, while gut-toting, sensitive Sam (Lange)
seems to take Mitchs loving abuse in stride.
As the movie opens, we learn that neither Mitch nor Sam can hold
a job or a girlfriend. Sam lives with his dad. Mitch has just
been kicked out of his girlfriends apartment and life. Neither
has any type of future plan. This changes rapidly, however, when
Sams dirty-old-man father, played well by Jack Warden, has a
heart attack. Because he is low-priority on the heart transplant
list, and his doctor, Dr. Farthing, played by Chevy Chase, is
a compulsive gambler, Mitch and Sam can only score a heart for
Pops by raising $50,000, a debt Farthing owes to a bookmaker.
It is this quest that drives Mitch and Sam to their one natural
talent creative revenge. They experiment with various jobs,
and learn that they are not the only ones consistently stepped
upon. They are, however, the only ones with nothing to lose.
One of the weaker parts of the film is the budding romance between
Mitch and his neighbor, Kathy, played by Traylor Howard. It is
unnecessary and underdeveloped. We see them together for less
than 15 minutes total, and they go from saying hello to Kathy
feeling betrayed by his actions. I expected her to scream, I
trusted you! and run into an alleyway, hand across her brow.
One great feature of the film is the work of the costume designer,
Beth Pasternak, who recently worked on the acclaimed indie film
The Sweet Hereafter. Every scene is in vibrant, mostly primary
colors, right down to the pillows on the couch. Mitch and Sam
always wear cobalt blue, fire-engine red, or canary yellow. Kathy
sports magenta and lilac. The colors help maintain the frantic
atmosphere of the movie.
If anyone hasnt noticed, Saturday Night Live exes tend to appear
in one anothers films. Dirty Work includes cameos by Chevy Chase,
Chris Farley, and Adam Sandler. All contribute to the script,
which at times needs a little help. Obviously, the movie is set
up to be a risque comedy, which it is not. Dirty Work is a formula:
SNL comics + average plot + toilet humor (literally, theres a
joke involving a toilet). It is not a bad representation of this
formula. In fact, there are some scenes which make me laugh thinking
about them now, but I can count them on one hand, and thats probably
Norm Macdonald is what he is. Hes a comedian, but he pulls off
his role in his own overly deliberate and funny way. Artie Lange
is a much more rounded actor, having had supporting roles in Jerry
Maguire, Fathers Day, and Jungle Fever. Long story short: If
you liked Happy Gilmore, Black Sheep, or Tommy Boy, youll probably
enjoy this movie.