"Note to self...Learn how to fight."
This 1998 vehicle for Saturday Night Live refugee Norm MacDonald would have played out as a spoof of TV's Vengeance Unlimited, except that they were both almost assuredly in pre-production at the same time -- and Vengeance Unlimited never really became successful enough to generate a parody.
And yet, the premise could have worked. Losers MITCH WEAVER (MacDonald), and his pal, Sam (Artie Lange), find themselves in dire need of $50,000 - fast! Seems Sam's dad (Jack Warden) desperately needs an operation. Lacking any real skills, they decide to go into the revenge-for-hire business.
Revenge in this case being mostly pranks, such as planting hookers in cars, shaving the beard off a bearded lady from the circus or filling up houses with rotting fish
Unfortunately, it's typical sort of Saturday Night Live fare for the era: some clever and actually witty gags that unfortunately go on far too long, surrounded by a lot of shock-and-awe juvenile humour and plenty of star-studded mugging for the camera from a whole slew of ringers, including fellow SNL alumni Chevy Chase, Adam Sandler and the late Chris Farley, as well as Don Rickles and Gary Coleman, all directed by Bob (TV's Funniest Home Videos) Saget.
The running gag of Mitch's dictating self-memos into a small pocket recorder is quite funny, even if the actual comments vary from hilarious (the quote above) to tiresomely crude gratuitousness (below), which no doublt helped earn it a PG-13 rating for crude sexual humor and language.
Ironic, that, since thirteen seems to be the target demographic for so much of the film. It was -- not surprisngly -- generally panned by (adult) critics, and didn't fare particularly well at the box office, or in subsequent video sales or rentals.
The film does have its defenders, though. Max Allan Collins says "If you haven't seen it, you shouldn't take the word of those idiotic critics: Dirty Work is hysterically funny, at least for those among us who appreciate Norm MacDonald's deadpan black humor. I understand that people aren't supposed to like this movie -- that doesn't stop it from being the funniest movie I saw last year....In addition to Norm being great in it, it represents Chris Farley's last film role and is an extremely funny postscript to his too short career. Dirty Work defines political incorrectness, as witness the single funniest scene in the picture, which involves prison rape. Both my wife and teenage son are in complete agreement with me about Norm and Dirty Work, and plan to have a Dirty Work party (as soon as the laser disc arrives) to determine once and for all which of our friends actually have senses of humor."
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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