Commentary Tracks Of The Damned: The Animal

Commentary Tracks Of The Damned: The Animal

Crimes:

— Using the premise of a man filled with animal organs as a hook for a string of unimaginative jokes about uncontrollable sex drives and "marking territory"

— Straining so hard to keep those jokes PG-13 that some scenes don't make any literal sense

— Casting flash-in-the-pan Survivor loser Colleen Haskell as a nondescript love interest, based—with no small degree of sneer—on environmentalist Julia "Butterfly" Hill

— Foisting the hairy, gawky Rob Schneider on the audience in a role that requires him either to mug or mope for a full 85 minutes

Defenders: Director Luke Greenfield, producer John Schneider, and writer-producer-star Rob Schneider

Tone of commentary: John Schneider is a non-factor in the track he shares with his brother Rob, who dominates the conversation by making banal observations on nearly every single shot. ("That's a good shot"; "That's a good delivery"; "That's an Adam Sandler joke"; and so on.) Rob Schneider also occasionally breaks into song and/or into exaggerated "black voice," praises his own choice of songs for the soundtrack—"Train is going to be huge," he warns—takes note of how much each licensed song and logo cost, and points out the places where he stuck in references to countries where his movies are popular. (Though when The Animal's one Filipino character turns out to be a pervert, Schneider sighs, "Now Filipinos are sad. Happy, then sad.") When he isn't walking viewers through the movie's accounting ledger, Schneider waxes philosophical about comic timing and how far to take physical comedy. "How much do you do, as an actor?" he muses over a scene of himself wildly humping his front lawn.

Meanwhile, on a separately recorded track, the boyish-sounding Greenfield matches his star's nitpickiness by pointing out where each scene deviated from his storyboards, blaming "a bunch of political bullshit" for getting in the way of his "vision." But while Schneider and Greenfield may not have always seen eye-to-eye on everything about The Animal, they do agree on this: The scene where the old lady beats Schneider up is hi-larious. "I like women beating the shit out of people," Greenfield chuckles, while over on his track, Schneider wonders, "Can you punch a woman? I think if she kicks you in the balls, you could punch her in the ass."

What went wrong: That "political bullshit" that Greenfield refers to seems to be the main culprit. Greenfield was hired on the strength of a short film he completed in film school, and regarding his concerns that he'd be ground up in the Hollywood machine, he tactfully says, "You hear all the worrisome stories about what's going to happen, and I have to say… I didn't really learn too much about filmmaking, but more about dealing with a group of producers. It was a great experience." Nevertheless, Greenfield and Schneider both complain about the studio/MPAA-mandated cuts to get their family-friendly rating, which meant they lost a lot of footage from the scene where Schneider tries to seduce a goat, and pretty much all of a scene where he guesses what's up various reporters' butts. ("So sad," sighs Schneider.) Schneider also gripes occasionally about Greenfield's mise-en-scene, snapping, "Enough with the pan-downs!" and "Cool bathroom, huh? They got a surfboard that's actually the sink. Good thing we didn't show it." For his part, Greenfield explains away some of his failings as a first-timer by admitting, "On the set, I stutter and mumble, and I'm a lot geekier than I am now."

Comments on the cast: Everybody loves "Johnny C." McGinley, in a supporting part as Schneider's hard-ass police-force superior, barking out ad-libs and wearing a super-tight shirt. ("He actually had his shirt tied underneath his balls," Schneider quips.) Greenfield also has some kind words for Schneider's gameness: "We had a blender scene and blended a bunch of stuff, like a stick and a piece of a tree… Rob actually threw up on the set… God, he's crazy."

Inevitable dash of pretension: Greenfield says that he "always dreamt what my first feature would be like," and that he "always figured the Columbia logo would be the first logo for my first film." So for him, The Animal was a dream come true. He even drove around from theater to theater on opening weekend to watch audiences' reactions to his big car-crash scene. ("That's why I make movies, really.") As for Schneider, he notes, "For you fans of French cinema, this next scene is taken from the film Didier, by Alain Chabat." But lest we think he's too high-minded, he also points out, "Every Rob Schneider movie is going to have a bathroom scene. I said, 'What's the most embarrassing way to meet a girl? Well, what if he's in there taking a whizzer and he sneaks a fart out, and the hot girl he's in love with comes out of the stall?'"

Commentary in a nutshell: While noting that he had to get the film's composer to whip up a quick hip-hop track to replace the Beastie Boys song they couldn't afford, Schneider puts on his "black voice" and grunts, "That's what I'm talkin' 'bout… savin' money! Savin' the studio mon-eeee!"

Filed Under: DVD

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