Screwed [2000]

Screwed was another nail in the coffin of former Saturday Night Live wisecracker Norm MacDonald, following his dismal previous film, Dirty Work. However, while Screwed isn't particularly funny (the jokes about dentures, dog poop, and dead bodies are pretty much as old as the hills), the plot exerts a perverse interest; for most of the movie, it's genuinely unpredictable. MacDonald plays Willard, the butler-chauffer, all-purpose flunky of Mrs. Crock, the wealthy, penny-pinching owner of a pastry company. Fed up with her abuse, Willard and his friend Rusty (David Chappelle from Blue Streak and 200 Cigarettes) connive to kidnap her dog Muffin. But Muffin escapes and returns home; the ransom note is assumed to be for Willard himself. Rusty and Willard run with the idea, sending in a videotape of himself being held prisoner. When a detective starts getting a little too close, they panic and decide to fake Willard's death... Okay, none of it makes much sense, but in a world of ridiculously formulaic movies that slavishly follow every screenwriting cliché, Screwed seems like a brief oasis of narrative invention. Of course, it still isn't funny. And by the end, it's lost whatever spark of imagination that got it started. Too bad. It's written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the screenwriters responsible for Problem Child, but also for Ed Wood and The People vs. Larry Flynt--they should stick to biographies. --Bret Fetzer

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