herr milflover takes on the unrapeable Rob Schneider in ‘Big Stan’
Rob Schneider is one of those guys who is pretty much review proof. Myself, I think he can be funny at times, but I have no illusion that anything he’s done beyond Saturday Night Live has been any good. His schtick was summed up fairly dead-on by South Park with the "he’s a carrot, derpitty derp" bit. The first Deuce Bigelow had its moments, but I couldn’t get through Hot Chick or The Animal even in ‘on TV as background noise’ mode. And the Sandler movies ‘you can do it’ running gag, while funny in The Waterboy, got old really fucking fast. But he’s at least better than David Spade.
So why even bother watching Big Stan, a movie the studio seemingly couldn’t be bothered to market and unceremoniously dumped straight to DVD? Well, for one, Rob is universally loved around these parts and deserves his moment in the spotlight, if only so he can repeatedly be called a cunt by the locals.
The movie started bad enough. We are introduced to Stan Minton (Schneider), a weasely real-estate con man, as he’s scamming an old lady into a condo scheme, eventually convincing her to sign on by telling her she will most likely get sexually predated on by black men who love white women. It’s at that moment that he’s arrested on multiple counts of fraud. He is quickly sentenced to 3 years, but his crooked lawyer (M. Emmet Walsh) manages to get him a 6 months delay before going to prison. Nothing funny so far, until the distressed Stan, fearing for his safety, goes to a bar and asks an ex-con (Dan Haggerty) about prison life.
Stan: How am I gonna do in there? If you saw me, would you beat the shit out of me?
Ex-con: I’d probably rape ya.
Stan: You’d rape me?
(after explaining the nature of prison rape and determining that Stan has no possible gang affiliation to protect him)
Ex-con: Looks like everybody’s gonna rape you.
Stan: …okay, I guess I can be a racist for 3 to 5 years… a real racist, hardcore!
Ex-con: Good. Then you can join the Nazis.
Ex-con: Then you’ll only be raped by the other Nazis!
Stan: Raped by Nazis???? No way!!
(further attempting to find something to help his cause, Stan shows Tubby a tattoo he has of his mother)
Ex-con: "Mommy"…. you might as well buy a welcome mat and strap it to your asshole, say ‘I’m open for business’…. hahahahaha
His spirit in shambles, he goes home to his wife Mindy (Jennifer Morrisson from House MD), with whom he finds some solace despite her stressing him about wanting to have a baby. The movie finally picks up when, in his quest to learn self-defense and avoid his future prison bitch status, he meets The Master, a martial arts instructor played by none other than the almighty David Carradine, in a hilarious self-parody of his classic Kung-Fu role. Every moment that Carradine is on screen is great, portraying The Master as a stern chain-smoking badass as he puts Stan through the grind of his rigorous and unorthodox training regime which includes -on top of the usual hand-to-hand and weapon training- hanging from his nipples, being beaten with fire sticks and eating gross food (not to mention plenty of choice dialogue like "You couldn’t knock the shit out of a paper bag full of shit" and "Insolent fool! You have lost the right to eat scorpion!"). The ordeal will eventually cause Mindy to leave Stan, but he completes his training fully prepared to take on his sentence.
Once incarcerated, Stan wastes no time in making his presence felt, by taking on the biggest sexual predator in the prison, Big Raymond, played by the hulking Bob Sapp. Ensues a surprisingly good fight sequence where Stan first easily destroys the monstrous Raymond and breaks his fingers, punches the nazi gang leader for using the n-word, and then takes on a dozen black gang members that he swiftly dispatches using both his bare hands and feet and a mop stick, before punching out their leader Cleon’s gold teeth out. Later on he also gets in a shower fight with the nazi leader whom he beats using nunchuks made out of bars of soap and a shoelace.
Unfortunately, the story got in the way of keeping it interesting after that. It turns out that the warden is evil (is there ever any other kind?) and
wants to have the prison shut down so he can build a residential complex on the land with the backing of an asian mobster, so he enlists Stan’s real-
estate expertise to help him bring his plan to fruition in exchange for an early parole release. Meanwhile, Stan becomes a hero of sorts to the weaker inmates, and he starts implementing new rules of behaviour to bring peace among the warring gangs, like dancing to mariachi music and banning all forms of rape. Which all goes against the warden’s plan, because in order to have the prison shut down, he needs a riot and that wont happen if the prisoners are all nice to each other. That brings the moral dilemma of Stan doing what’s good for him or for the inmates, while he also reconnects with Mindy, whom he’ll suspect of having an affair with The Master. The whole thing is tediously predictable and mostly unfunny, down to the eventual showdown with the asian mobster, who is of course revealed to be a former student of The Master gone bad. It would have been a lot more interesting if they’d foregone the whole warden scheme, and instead kept having Stan foiling various inmates and eventually bring unity, rather than having them be such easily swayed drones who only seem to care about raping each other.
I must admit that Rob managed to impress me with his fighting scenes. It’s obvious that he did not have a stunt double, so either he’s got some real skills or he trained very hard during filming to make it appear that a puny guy like him could do all that fighting convincingly. His kicks are weak, but his hand coordination and the way he handles those sticks and nunchuks didn’t look like an amateur at all. Maybe doing Demolition Man and Judge Dredd with Stallone and Knock-Off with Van Damme rubbed off on Rob and he learned to fight for real. I’m not saying he could be an action star but it could be interesting to see him take on a role where he can play his usual annoying comedy sidekick who can also whoop ass.
Robb also directed the movie, and while he doesn’t dazzle us with anything fancy he does a fine job of keeping everything coherent, and the acting is surprisingly decent for this kind of comedy. It’s not Rob’s worst movie (not really high praise given his dismal resume) so it’s almost unfortunate that the second half falls into such lameness. Alas there’s nothing besides Carradine and the fight scenes to make it worth recommending. So nice try Rob, but you really need to stop making so many shit movies.