A Night at the Roxbury (1998)

A Night at the Roxbury (1998)

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"...is that Will Ferrell?!"
“…is that Will Ferrell?!”

Twitter Plot Summary: Two dimwitted brothers want to own their own nightclub or, at least, get into the Roxbury at least once.

Five Point Summary:

1. Haddaway = smashed car window.
2. Wanting more of their lives.
3. Gold Diggers.
4. She’s got her claws into him.
5. Jerry Maguire meets Say Anything.

In what is a typical Saturday Night Live spinoff movie, Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell reprise their roles from the popular television comedy show as the Roxbury Brothers, two dimwitted but somewhat loveable chaps who bop their heads constantly to Haddaway’s ‘What Is Love?’, spout the occasional catchphrase and dance badly in order to pick up women – which obviously fails on every occasion. Making sure to cram in each of their catchphrases, mannerisms and the bits that work quite well in a 2 minute live television sketch, Roxbury gives the pair a plot to work against. Will Ferrell’s Steve is lusted over by Emily (Molly Shannon), the daughter of the shop owner next door. Meanwhile brother Doug is trying to find his way in the world and that doesn’t involve the family’s flower shop. You can already telegraph where the plot will go from this, but that’s not the point – it’s all about the catchphrases and trying to cram in as many amusing moments as possible. Gender politics are also clearly not a concern, as the majority of the women are either gold diggers or manipulative and willing to exploit the loveably dim-witted men they encounter.

The selling point is the soundtrack, which in honesty doesn’t require a viewing of the film to enjoy. There’s plenty of legroom with the main contribution from Haddaway, but the likes of “Where Do You Go?” by No Mercy and “Insomnia” by Faithless add to the distinctly 90s feel of the film. Mix in a couple of genuinely funny jokes and it makes it all bearable, but nothing spectacular. It certainly doesn’t have the same long lasting appeal as fellow SNL spinoffs like The Blues Brothers or Waynes World.

Stylin', profilin'.... whooo!
Stylin’, profilin’…. whooo!

Then there’s Richard Grieco, playing himself and somehow not entirely selling it. He’s almost incidental to the plot, and other than a brief bump into the back of the Roxbury Brothers’ vehicle, literally anybody else could have been in that car and it would have done exactly the same job. The inclusion of a number of stars from old sitcoms (Dan Hedaya and Loni Anderson as their parents, for example) add to the slightly odd tone.

As afflicts the majority of SNL-based movie adaptations – the aforementioned Waynes World and the Blues Brothers aside – Roxbury starts to flag at around the 50 minute mark, and all the pizzazz in the story quickly fades to almost nothing. A number of references and homages to other films such as Say Anything, a not exactly timely reference to Saturday Night Fever and the slightly more topical Jerry Maguire. The final act is tired and clearly lacks the energy that was present in the opening two thirds.

If more effort had gone into expanding the characters beyond their SNL templates then perhaps A Night at the Roxbury would have been much more likely to be a recommendation. As it is, there seemingly isn’t enough to the characters to justify the feature length expansion and you’d be better off just sticking with the soundtrack and re-enacting the head-bopping scene to Haddaway.

Score: 2.5/5

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