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To hear the review:
A Rob Schneider movie is usually not a good thing. That being said, it is wrong to judge Schneider by Deuce Bigalow. With those movies, this SNL alum managed to catch lightning in a bottle in that he found that perfect combination of Awful and Even Worse that somehow appealed to people enough that the film made money. Like what happened with that Epic Movie series. Sometimes, the absolute worst stuff thrown up on a movie screen finds a disproportionately large audience. The fact of the matter is, Schneider is better than Deuce Bigalow. That’s not saying much, so take it for what it’s worth. But he has certainly done some movies that were of a slightly higher quality, and Big Stan is one.
Big Stan is more along the lines of The Benchwarmers in the vast pantheon of Schneider comedies, in that it has moments that are genuinely offensive, but the movie overall is not. Both these movies are rather understated (seriously) as far as the comedy goes, and they are okay. At best. Big Stan veers wildly between being unnecessarily offensive (witness the discussion of black people in the opening scene), and offensively inoffensive (witness the scene where Schneider, apparently now the polar opposite of the character he played seven minutes earlier, philosophizes nerdily about the use of the n-word and race relations).
The basic idea behyind Big Stan actually has potential. Rob Schneider plays Stan Minton, a big-time con man (the DVD case refers to him as a two-bit con man, but he has $7 million in the bank, so I think he qualifies as a “big-time” con man). Convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison, he has six months to get his life in order before he shows up to do a stretch of 3-5 years. When a (surprisingly funny) encounter with a former inmate at a bar opens Stan’s eyes to the possibility of being raped in prison, Stan understandably freaks out. And he determines to become, within those six months, a martial arts master so he can protect himself from the rape which would otherwise be inevitable.
This is a slightly offensive concept, but no worse than we’ve seen in many other movies. And it has the potential to be very funny. But it isn’t. It’s just slightly funny. David Carradine (who clearly hasn’t cashed in properly on the Tarantino Boost he got in Kill Bill) shows up as The Master, the martial arts guru who will help whip Schneider into shape. This basically results in a long, boring training montage where Schneider – haha – has to eat scorpions and – haha – gets burned with fiery sticks. Also, there are masturbation jokes and fart jokes. Haha. Stan’s wife starts getting uncomfortable with The Master around, and she veers wildly from moments where she is acutely perceptive and erudite to moments where she is a ditz with the IQ of a floor mop.
Then, of course, Stan goes to prison. In the clink he actually IS the toughest guy on the cell block. There are very half-assed references to Cool Hand Luke (the Strother Martin type warden), The Shawshank Redemption (Stan has been brought to this prison by the warden to help him with a real estate deal), and other prison movies that were vastly better than this one. The warden has some kind of evil scheme up his sleeve that involves creating a murderous prison riot and shooting prisoners. Only Schneider stands in his way, and before he can emerge victorious he must make a difficult personal decision and face off against The Master’s Number One Student and choose freedom or friendship…
Of course, all of this painfully cliched prison stuff comes with racial jokes, poop jokes, rape jokes, and more and more masturbation jokes. Schneider’s Stan is a completely different character from one scene to another. He’s Andy Dufresne, then he’s Bill Goldberg from Half Past Dead 2, then he’s Rob Schneider from 50 First Dates. Really, there is nothing particularly awful about Big Stan, it just isn’t any good. It isn’t interesting, it isn’t smart, it isn’t good enough to be a satire or bad enough to be a satire of itself. It just meanders about until it reaches its obvious, telegraphed and silly conclusion. And in the time I have written this review, I have already forgotten ninety percent of the film.
Big Stan comes out March 24th from Alliance Films.