Lasciate ogne speranza, voi chi’intrate. How did it come to this? At the height of his power in Hollywood in 1999, Adam Sandler founded his own production company as a way to continue making the movies he enjoys. Over the years his films have slowly morphed into a pariah on the landscape of big budget studio comedies, becoming thinly veiled excuses for lavish vacations. But do they truly represent the nadir in the career of one of comedy’s once-brightest stars? Are there any hidden or underrated gems? Is there such a thing as too few fart jokes? Will I retain any sense of sanity by the end of this? Join me and find out, as we venture to the Happy Valley.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me today, Rob!
ROB SCHNEIDER: My pleasure. I am very busy. Or should I say, bizz-ay? Get it?
I: Uh, sure. So Rob, it’s been six years since the original Deuce Bigalow was released. What made you want to return to the character?
RS: We just felt like there was so much more comedic potential and wacky scenarios that Deuce could find himself in. Stuff that was really left off the table from the original film.
I: That sounds interesting. Can you talk a little bit about what we can look forward to?
RS: Well, the previous film had such an episodic format, where Deuce would go on all these dates with these weirdos. So in this film, Deuce goes on even more dates with even more weirdos!
I: Deuce Bigalow was criticized for its reductive and insensitive jokes about people with disabilities or unusual conditions, almost all of which are aimed at women. Will European Gigolo have any more nuanced looks at physical deformities or oddities?
RS: There’s a woman with a penis for a nose! That’s nuanced, right?
RS: We also thought this would be a great opportunity to explore America’s standing among the international community. We’ve really taken a hit recently and we took it upon ourselves to provide some introspection to reevaluate what kind of values we project to the world.
I: That sounds incredibly insightf–
RS: Plus, did you know that marijuana and prostitution are totally legal in Amsterdam?! And women do the weather reports topless! Europeans are nuts!
I: The main narrative backdrop in the original film was Deuce’s quest for love, and at the end of the film he ends up with Kate, played by Arija Bareikis. Will she be back for the sequel?
RS: Nope. She’s already dead when the film begins. But she pops in for one flashback scene.
I: Well, I suppose it’s not entirely unheard of for a sequel to bring in a new romantic lead.
RS: Arija was great, but we just wanted to explore a new romantic prospect for Deuce in a way that feels fresh. We were able to cast Hanna Verboom as Eva and she did a great job, in only her second acting gig. Some might even say she doesn’t deserve to be in this movie! *chuckles nervously*
I: You say the romance this time around will be approached from a “fresh” angle. Can you expand on that a little?
RS: Well, in the first film, Kate’s character flaw was her insecurity about her prosthetic leg. We really just liked the leg because it could be used as a funny prop every once in a while. And don’t worry, there’s more wacky gags with the leg in this one. Eva, meanwhile, suffers from OCD. She slaps herself every time somebody sneezes.
I: So what would you say her character flaw is?
RS: Eddie Griffin comes back as TJ, too!
I: OK, that’s an encouraging sign. You had some noticeable comedic chemistry with him in the original film.
RS: Absolutely. Eddie can somehow make a line like “We’ll find the killer using your twat-sicle” and actually make it kinda funny. And there’s a subplot where he gets into some wacky hijinks that result in the public thinking he’s gay. He can even take a scene where he eats some French fries that have fallen in the toilet and make it … uh … sorry, I blacked out for a second. Where was I? Anyway, Eddie’s great. Some might even say he doesn’t deserve to be in this movie! *chuckles nervously*
I: You got a little bit of a bump for the budget of this movie because the first film did so well financially. Was it a challenge to find a way to utilize it?
RS: Yes, a little. We filmed on location in Amsterdam, where I lived for six months before production started. I hope my love for the city really comes through in the final product! We also used a portion of the budget to make a “Man-Whore of the Year” awards show, where virtually every prop is turned into a phallic object.
I: Wait, so was Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo mostly just an excuse to take a vacation in Amsterdam?
RS: *chuckles nervously*
I: Let’s wrap this up. It really just seems like a large amount of this film is just recycled bits and jokes being twisted to suit a new location, with an extra side of xenophobia. Would you agree with that assessment?
RS: No, actually. I wouldn’t. We sprinkled in plenty of gags that don’t actually add to the plot of the film just because we all thought they’d be unexpected.
I: Can you give me an example of that?
RS: There’s a bit where Deuce and TJ try to wake up an unconscious gigolo by dropping a bowling ball on his head. And there’s a funny sequence where Deuce takes a series of clients to a plastic surgeon, with some unexpected results.
I: OK, fair enough. So how much of the film is composed of those bits versus the xenophobic, body-shaming bits?
RS: Maybe 10 percent? I’m not a math guy. Oh, did I mention that this film is directed by a guy named Mike Bigelow? Pretty hilarious, right?
I: That is hilarious! Is there any moment or moments in particular you’d like to highlight that kind of sums the film up for the readers?
RS: That’s a great question. Remember when I said there’s a subplot where everyone thinks TJ is gay? Well, he gets caught with his hand down another man’s pants and a photo ends up on a newspaper, and the newspaper’s headline reads “Even Gayer Then We Thought.” Thanks so much for letting me talk about the movie today!
- “I’m Getting Paid How Much?!” Inexplicable Cameo Award: In a clear indictment of this film’s quality, there are zero semi-big name cameos or Sandler chronies to appear, save Norm MacDonald. However, Fred Armisen, newly on the SNL scene at the time, makes an uncredited one-scene appearance as a snooty Frenchman.
- Just Go With It: The Happy Madison Promise. I previously misspoke by claiming 2012’s That’s My Boy would be the first R-rated Happy Madison comedy, when it’s actually Adam Sandler’s first under the company’s banner. This film uses its R rating basically as an excuse to superfluously show a topless woman a couple times and cover the final set piece in dicks.
- Fart Joke Counter: Consider me shocked that there are no fart jokes to be found in this movie.
- The Walkout Test: Come on, now. Fail.
- NEXT TIME: I approach Grandma’s Boy, a film I’ve never seen, with morbid curiosity.