A lowbrow comedy basting in its own fermented flop sweat, Screwed is the directorial debut of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the writing team behind not only Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man On The Moon, but also the Problem Child films and 1997's That Darn Cat. A generic slob vs. snobs movie that lurches from one rancid gag to another, Screwed stars Norm Macdonald as a put-upon chauffeur who plots to get back at his evil employer (Elaine Stritch) by kidnapping her dog. Aided in his criminal endeavors by pal David Chappelle, he ends up botching the kidnapping so badly that Stritch and the police assume Macdonald himself has been kidnapped, leading to some antics. Danny DeVito is along for the ride as a third criminal, although his feral mortuary worker seems to exist solely for the sake of two quirks: his love of Jack Lord and his collection of strange objects found in corpses. DeVito's thankless role is indicative of Screwed, a misanthropic mess that takes comedic aim at such sacred cows as horny old women, effeminate Europeans, and little dogs, and misses by a wide margin. (It's no surprise that it spent ages on the shelf with a variety of titles before being buried, like Macdonald's Dirty Work, amongst the early-summer dregs.) Macdonald can be funny under the right circumstances, but his arch, smart-ass minimalism is wasted when he's cast as a dimwitted, sad-sack everyman. Chappelle is also far better than most of the films in which he's appeared, but he and Macdonald don't help Screwed by mugging wildly throughout, as if by sheer exertion of energy they could will themselves into a funnier movie. An air of desperation hangs over the picture and, despite the presence of Sherman Hemsley in a sizable supporting role, Screwed is frenetic but dull; it's mercifully short (around 80 minutes) but so poorly paced that it feels twice as long. Alexander and Karaszewski direct with no style, not to mention any instinct for character or setting. If Screwed is representative of their talent for writing fiction, they shouldn't let their membership in the biography-of-the-month club expire any time soon.
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