Review: ‘The Animal’

Rob Schneider will shamelessly do just about anything to get you to watch him make a fool of himself, and as “The Animal” he makes no exceptions. But if you poorly rate an intentionally bad movie, is that an insult or a complement?

The son of a policeman that was killed in the line of duty, Marvin Mange (Rob Schneider) wants to be a cop, too. Ambition and studying only go so far, however, when you can’t physically complete the basic training obstacle course, but all that changes after a near-fatal accident and an experimental operation. Marvin can suddenly run, jump, smell, and do just about anything physically better than anyone on the police force, including charming a young lady named Rianna (Colleen Haskel.) Nothing is without its price, however, when Marvin’s own animal instincts (awakened by the animal parts used to save his life) start taking on a life of their own.

Rob Schneider is an incredible physical comedian as well as a fair actor. Long after you’re tired of seeing Adam Sandler on the screen, Schneider can just show up out of nowhere and make you laugh. After years of playing second banana to other Hollywood types (such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sylvester Stallone, and Kelsey Grammer), Schneider continues to come into his own by taking whatever material is handed to him and running as far with it as he can. Top billing comes with a price, however: Schneider is expected to be the lone draw in a film with a small budget and little polishing. For myself, I think he’s funny, and that alone makes this a guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile, back to the review. The timing of most of the gags in “The Animal” are solid if not outright surprising at times. The script appears to have been loose enough to add things in as they shot it and was probably edited into its final form with everything the editors could get that worked. Supporting players include Ed Asner (who *IS* still alive), Survivor’s Colleen Haskell (who held her own convincingly enough for a film like this), and cameos by Adam Sandler and Norm Macdonald (doing what they always do.) With all of the mishaps that must have taken place, surprisingly, there are no outtakes in the credits. Drat.

There is nothing exceptional about “The Animal” other than a good way to waste a Saturday afternoon. If you like Rob Schneider, you’ll get a lot more out of it than it probably deserves, but since it never really sets its sights much higher than taking in more money than was spent on making it, it could have been much worse. Just ask Adam Sandler about “Little Nicky.”

(a light-hearted 2 and a half out of 4 skulls)

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