Big Stan is a prison-rape comedy made worse by its commentary

Big Stan is a prison-rape comedy made worse by its commentary

 Crimes:

  • Basing an entire comedy on a runty, insufferable weasel’s fear of being violently sodomized against his will in prison
  • Somehow imagining that a Rob Schneider prison-rape comedy needed to be 109 minutes long or feature a redemptive arc that finds Schneider bringing peace and tranquility to prison through brute force and intimidation 
  • Squandering the talents of great actors like M. Emmet Walsh, Scott Wilson, Henry Gibson, Sally Kirkland, and David Carradine in supporting roles in a Rob Schneider prison-rape comedy
  • Ending the career of Golden Globe nominee and Laugh In favorite Henry Gibson on a particularly undignified note

Defenders: Director-producer-lead actor Rob Schneider and actors Buddy Lewis and Salvator Xuereb

Tone of commentary: Affectionate, detail-oriented, and endlessly self-congratulatory. A subdued Schneider dominates the commentary; Lewis and Xuereb just seem jazzed to be included and largely limit their comments to praising Schneider’s work and the overall hilarity of the film, as well as its surprising emotional resonance.

Schneider loved Josh Lieb’s screenplay so much that he regularly repeats favorite lines mere seconds after they appear onscreen. But at least he is respectful enough to initially observe these moments in reverent silence along with his fellow commentators, so it’s not as if he’s singling out moments he or his giggly co-commentators somehow stepped over or sadistically obscured. Zingers he singles out for praise include: 

“A limp dick spells ‘nerd’ in any language.”

“I’m a yellow belt. Nobody’s afraid of a yellow belt.”

“What’s going to happen, Mindy? Is my anus going to grow teeth?”

“Might as well buy a welcome mat and strap it to your asshole and say, ‘I’m open for business.’”

Yet Schneider also points out several lines he wrote himself and mentions that Lieb’s screenplay originally lacked a third act, so he had to come up with a labored subplot involving a land grab and greedy warden Scott Wilson to push the film to an unconscionably long 109-minute running time. In keeping with the circle-jerk nature of the commentary, Schneider’s co-stars praise him for encouraging them to improvise when they’re not guffawing at the genius of Lieb and Schneider’s dialogue. 

The film’s low budget forced Schneider to use some of his own vast personal fortune to add to the production values. A 1955 Speedster that appears onscreen belongs to Schneider. He also wears a $3,000 suit onscreen that Billy Zane took him to buy, and notes proudly that the wine he and David Carradine drink onscreen is from his personal wine cabinet. Oh, the sacrifices plucky independent filmmakers like Schneider make for the sake of their art!

What went wrong: Schneider speaks throughout of scenes he was forced to reduce or cut out entirely for pacing and tonal reasons, like marathon fight scenes that were trimmed after his collaborators reminded him that he was making a comedy and not a kung-fu movie. Apparently, Schneider trained for months to get in shape for the role, learning martial arts and stick fighting, and he seems a little disappointed he didn’t have an opportunity to show off everything he learned. 

Comments on the cast: Female lead Jennifer Morrison is leeringly praised by all three commentators for her smoking-hot bod, sweetness, hometown of Chicago, and comic chops, though Schneider does note that she did not enjoy a scene that found her sharing a “Vietnamese sex chair” with Carradine. But Morrison “was a good sport” all the same.

Schneider heaps most of his praise on the legends of the cast, particularly Carradine, who refused to take off his wedding ring for the role and—depending on who’s commenting—favored the cast and crew with anecdotes from his life and career that were either endlessly fascinating or just plain endless. Schneider notes how proud he was to have legends like Carradine and Walsh share a scene and beams about how they really knocked a fart joke out of the park. 

Schneider apologizes to Kirkland for including her naked breasts in the movie and praises bit player Dan Haggerty for his insistence on wearing a headband for a scene where he tells a terrified Schneider that he would probably ass-rape him if they were in prison together.

Inevitable dash of pretension: Schneider says Lieb’s original screenplay was “originally like an Ealing comedy two-act” and repeatedly invokes Jack Lemmon and The Apartment as an inspiration for the film’s look as well as his wardrobe and performance. Yes, Big Stan is totally the film Jack Lemmon and Billy Wilder would have made together if they had more of a passion for exploring the rich comic possibilities endemic in a man’s heroic quest to avoid being anally violated in prison.

Commentary in a nutshell: Schneider pats himself on the back for the film’s outrageousness when he brags, “The first scene in the movie you hear, ‘I can see you all alone in that condo, surrounded by negro cock.’ It lets the audience know which movie they’re getting into.” That it does: not a very good one.