I was just looking at some old script coverages I wrote (I used to write an awful lot of script coverages) and was amused by the following excerpts.*
How's this for a pitch? "You know Some Like It Hot and Tootsie? Well, this is like that, but really really bad!" For one thing, if we really need another movie about a boy having to pretend to be a girl or a girl having to pretend to be a boy, some thought has to go into making it work. One advantage the boy-posing-as-a-girl version has is that the boy will probably be wearing a wig and lots of make-up, which will make him look dramatically different, whereas in this screenplay we just have to swallow the idea that Meg's boyfriend, having seen her with her hair cut short, is completely incapable of recognizing her when she takes out her earrings and stuffs a banana in her pants.
Twice in the story someone smells a fart before it happens: Billy "senses something in the air," and a moment later "plugs his nose, then Mark FARTS, loudly"; later "BILLY sense something [sic] and smiles," and a moment later "Mark FARTS" again. This seems like a 12-year-old girl's misconception of the mechanics of farting. Who in the world thinks the smell precedes the fart?
You expect a movie like this to be offensive—it almost has to be—but without redeeming characteristics, the offensive parts start standing out all the more boldly. Not even beginning to catalogue it all, I think I can sum it all up with just one direction from the screenplay: "He notices that the man is not a man but a midget." Because midgets are not men. Right.
Not counting Luther, there are six black characters in the story, and of the six, two are blind, two are named Ruben (one is blind and named Ruben), one is obsessed with sex, one is obese and can reliably be made to run across a field if lured with a candy bar, and one is a senile old lady named Bootsie who screams and runs around comically at the mention of the KKK and ends up "in [a] freezer...chomping on chocolate ice cream." It's just too bizarre—like something a true-bred racist might come up with if she were trying to write for a super-PC cartoon show about recycling.
Not a single moment in the entire script made me laugh aloud—one or two moments, tops, might have made my facial muscles tighten ever-so-slightly, as if I had been about to smile. For the most part, it was just unpleasant, like being groggy from cold medication.
What could be less funny than a movie in which we hear the wisecracking interior monologue of an animal? I had hoped the human race was done with that particular subgenre. Did we learn nothing from Look Who's Talking Now?
What we have throughout is these conversations between people that meaninglessly pause just long enough for the dog to get in his non-dialogue. Jill says something, Ben answers, then we need just enough space for the dog to say something. It is such C-level TV sitcom crap: reading the screenplay, you can practically see the awkward cut to a dog without any particular expression on its face—probably thinking about shitting—with the lame voiceover. You can almost hear the canned laughter (you certainly can't imagine the real kind accompanying this drivel).
Another problem is what you might call the why-factor. Why are we hearing this dog's thoughts? Does it have anything at all to do with what a dog would actually think or do, even with a comic interpretation of the mentality of a dog? No. We don't know what exactly goes on in the mind of a dog, but we can be pretty damned sure that it bears no resemblance to sarcastic wisecracks.
The sad and terrible answer is that a movie like this presupposes that it is in fact delightful, hilarious fun to look at a dog and hear Danny DeVito say, "Who are you calling 'boy'?" It has all the brilliant wit and originality of a potato-chip commercial.
Because different things are funny to different people, I'll dispense with the judgments. Who cares what I think is funny? Instead, let's talk about what the writers think is funny: Three funny things are shit, sex, and celebrities. Homosexuality is funny, as is a man in a skirt. A person singing Sisqo's "Thong Song" about his dong instead of a thong is VERY funny. Any recent hit song with dirty lyrics is probably funny: "Oops! ... I did it again...I played with my rod...got splooge in my mouth." Ha, ha! That one is especially funny—and convenient, because eight-year-old boys will also enjoy it, which expands our potential audience. Things that were funny in other movies are funny, like, say, when Fred says, "Wake up, Jennifer, snap out of it, you're in denial," and slaps and punches and kicks her (the basic gist of which worked very well in Airplane!), or when Fred talks about his "pretty typical" childhood—which isn't typical at all, ha ha! (in a way that brings us pleasantly back to a similarly funny moment in Austin Powers). A gerbil being lowered toward an anus and saying, "Uh-oh," is funny. Two kids being hit by a car and calling for euthanasia—extremely funny, worth putting in twice.
The story has some nice traces of a Chinatownish darkness, but falls so far short of Chinatown that I feel bad about mentioning the two in the same independent clause.
If I watched this movie, I would hate myself for several hours for having wasted money and, more importantly, time—time I could have spent watching another movie, or sleeping, or procreating.
* Out of respect for the screenwriters, I've changed character names where possible.