“The Animal” leaves us hunting for a good film

It’s that time of year again, when Hollywood serves up another round of Saturday Night Live for the theater. This year the moviegoer will be blessed with another performance from the mono-dimensional Rob Schneider”The Animal,” now in theaters, features the Schneidermeister and original “survivor” Colleen Haskell.

Columbia pictures brings these two together in another version of the wimp gets girl theme, reminiscent of “The Waterboy” and “Me, Myself and Irene.” Marvin, the wimp du jour played by Schneider, is a small town clerk working in the police department in hopes of someday making the force. Marvin sucks an inhaler almost constantly, is harassed by old folks, children and his landlord’s dog, and has failed his police physical for several years.

Rianna, played by Haskell, is an environmental activist who has spent the last year in an old growth tree house while the tree killers whacked the forest around her. In her final interview with the media, she thanks the young author of a poetry book she received while in the tree. The penman of the childish work is, of course, Marvin.

Back in civilization, Rianna runs into Marvin in a men’s room. Rianna has found work in an animal shelter that has few dogs and cats, but a wise-ass chimp, lizards and several rare birds.

When Marvin is left all alone in the police station, he is forced to answer a burglary call. En route he is forced off the highway. When he awakes he has visions of animals and phony doctors, but remembers none of the accident. Returning to his job he finds that he has been gone for a week.

Suddenly he is twice the man he use to be. He can run jump and scare small animals with his scent. He attributes this to his supply of rancid Badger Milk purchased from an infomercial. After helping airport security in apprehending a drug suspect by sniffing the drugs doggie style he is promoted to officer status.

Marvin is now more animal than man. And reports are circulating town about strange ritual cattle slaughters in the local area.

The scientist that put him together after the accident catches Marvin again and explains the surgical process that saved his life, as well as gave him his new found vitality. The doctor, concerned about the side effects of the experimental surgery, intends to keep him as a pet.

But Marvin has other ideas and escapes into the woods so he can keep his date with Rianna. An animal lover at heart, Rianna falls for Marvin with his animal magnetism.

The main protagonist is the town’s number one cop, and he has his eye on Marvin, who tries to control his newly found animal instincts. But beef jerky and stress toys won’t save him when more rumors of a wild animal stalking the woods circulate in the small community.

Soon the jig is up, and Marvin is the subject of the classic pitchfork-carrying mob that has tracked down movie monsters for over a hundred years. This mob features Norm McDonald in a recurring role as a dim-witted town folk.

The movie, never having had any real plot, drags on toward the inevitable conclusion. Eventually the audience finds out that it should have waited for this to come out on video. But then the moviegoer misses the $4 popcorn, watered-down drinks and audience with more yokels than the movie.

Fresh off of his hit “Deuce Bigalo Male Gigolo,” Schnieder offers another movie chalk full of fart jokes, animal noises and feel-good gimmicky plots.

While not as good as “Deuce,” this movie is entertaining. Lack of plot, thin characters and weak story line have become the hallmark of Hollywood, and sometimes they can still prove entertaining. Besides, when the audience is attracted to the movie by a member of “Survivor,” then certainly the mark hasn’t been set too high.