Steve, don’t hit on the bridesmaid. It’s your wedding.
After being mentally scarred by Human Centipede 3, with some of the images from that film taking a few days to get out of my head, I wanted my next review to be something that was the complete opposite of Human Centipede and that was a comedy. I hadn’t initially intended to review A Night at the Roxbury but I then started watching it whilst at the gym and I thought “why not?”
Now, this review is more intended for those of my readers that aren’t American, or regularly viewed Saturday Night Live in the 1990s. Being English, I only see clips of Saturday Night Live every now and then, and when I say every now and then, I mean once a year, maybe, so during the 1990s I knew nothing of the show and had never even heard of it until this film came on Sky. Afterwards I found out that it was a regular sketch on SNL and it had been expanded into a feature length film. Well, I say feature length, it barely lasts over an hour.
Anyway, I asked a few friends whether they had ever heard of it and none of them said yes, so if you’re confused as to why I’m reviewing this film when it has 45,000 ratings votes on IMDB, it’s because it’s seemingly not very well known outside of America.
It had been several years since I had seen the film, infact, I’d say it was at least 6 since I saw it from start to finish. I was hoping I would still enjoy it as much as I did when I was younger, but I have found myself seriously disliking things that I used to love since I have entered my 30s. Maybe I’m just getting old.
Doug (Kattan) and Steve (Farrell) Butabi are socially awkward brothers that don’t seem to realise just how much they antagonise those around them, even though they are well meaning. They regularly attend night clubs and parties and the few girls that do pay them any sort of attention are soon put off by their lack of grace and unintentional disrespect. The brothers do have big plans though as they hope to open their own night club, which the gimmick being that on the outside it looks like a club would, but on the inside it looks like the street, but they stand little chance of making it a success when they are failing to do a good job working for their father (Hedaya) in his fake plant store.
Steve regularly ignores the advances of Emily (Shannon), the only person who shows either of the brothers any attention, however, despite seemingly everyone else hating them, the brothers soon experience some luck as they run into star of TV show “21 Jump St” Richard Grieco (himself), and he agrees to get them into the highest profile club in town, The Roxbury. There they are introduced to the owner of the club and they pitch their idea of the inside out club, the owner tells them to phone him in the morning to have a proper meeting about it. Two girls spot them talking and assume that the brothers are rich. They seduce the brothers into having sex.
With the brothers now amazingly optimistic towards the future, but what they don’t know is that they offended the club owner’s assistant. He purposefully lies to the brothers about the owner being drunk and not remembering them. From there and a subsequent sequence of events lead the brothers to have a huge falling out. Doug falls into a deep depression, whereas Steve finally gives into the advances of Emily.
So, as good as I used to think it was?
Quick honestly, no. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think it’s a bad film at all but the first thing I can really say in this part of the review is that it’s definitely a marmite style film. For those that are unfamiliar with marmite, it’s a form of food that every seems to either love or hate, and I think that this film is exactly like that. There are some that will love the film and those that hate it, I don’t think that there is an inbetween. In many ways the best comparison that I can make is that it’s the male version of Romy and Michelle, a mid-90s comedy staring Mina Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow.
The story feels like it has a nice, natural progression and it never feels forced. Everything feels like it happens organically because most of what happens is out of luck rather than judgement. The brothers rarely have any plans intentionally work and much like real life, their progression comes from moments of stupidity, such as constantly sharply breaking on a busy road and end up having the car behind them rear ending them.
That characters of Doug and Steve are played perfectly by Kattan and Farrell, they have captured that perfect portrayal of delusion. Whilst Farrell’s performance may seem familiar compared to his usual performances since this film was made, at the time this performance was quite unique and he played the loveable idiot role perfectly.
I’ve only ever seen Kattan in two films, this and House on Haunted Hill, the first two films in his career, and he seems to have a great range of abilities and he has an endearing ability to make you laugh as Doug. One scene that stands out in particular is when Doug and Steve are walking down the beach and the latter is having major doubts, Doug reassures him that everything will be fine and that Steve is very good looking. Kattan, with his hair slicked back, delivers the line about both of them being good looking whilst almost looking like a caricature of himself.
It’s an interesting approach to comedy and whilst in places it works, a lot of the movie, especially the first half, feels very repetitive. Most of the first half of the movie is them partying, trying to chat up women, dancing awkwardly and being rejected, all whilst some 90s music is being belted out in the background. Without counting, I would guess that there is, at most, 10 minutes of the entire film which doesn’t have music belting out and whilst at the beginning it is well used, after a while it becomes tiresome. The song “What Is Love” by Haddaway, is used at least five times in the film, whether it is directly or via the elevator music.
I think in many ways you will love this film if you grew up during the 90s. There are many references to 90s culture, such as near enough copying a scene from Jerry Maguire near enough word for word. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I caught all of the references quite easily, but I get the feeling that if you’re from any other generation then most of the references might go over your head and you miss the intended funny moments. That’s not to say that the intended funny moments are actually funny. In a film that barely lasts over an hour, the last thing you need to do is make it repetitive.
What I find bizarre about about the film is that it’s Wikipedia page describes it as a neo-noir black comedy. Now, if you were reading that and thought that this sounds like amazing, based purely on that, you’ll be disappointed. There’s nothing dark or black about the comedy at all, and it’s not presented in a neo-noir way. Obviously the film can’t control what it’s advertised as, but don’t be tricked into thinking it’s something it’s not.
Whilst there are moments that will make you laugh and it could easily become a guilty-pleasure of your’s, A Night at the Roxbury’s short run time is filled with jokes that quickly become repetitive and unfunny. If you can survive the repetitive jokes and the constant playing of 90s club music then you’ll probably end up liking it.
Farrell and Kattan both play their characters exceptionally well and it’s hard not to like either of them as they’re loveably naive. I don’t think either character could be portrayed by anyone else and retain the same level of enjoyment.
Whilst this will never be considered a classic, for barely over an hour of your time, I’d say it’s worth the small commitment of time.