A Night at the Roxbury should have been renamed “A Night with a Bunch of L.A. Persian FOBS.” This is by no means a good movie. Its not even halfway decent. In fact, its downright pretty fuckin’ horrible. Despite all this, SNL pulled off something very simple and very awesomely hilarious with its creation of, what I will call, the Night at the Roxbury guys. I think its safe to say that if you ask any Middle Eastern person to name his/her favorite SNL characters, these guys would be it. You see, if you come from a Middle Eastern family, chances are you have an older brother/uncle/cousin who recently arrived in this country and instead of getting an education, he spends the majority of his time hitting up clubs and trying to appear…whats the word…flashy. EVERY Middle Eastern family has a couple of these in the family and mine was no exception. Anyway, to make a long story short, although A Night at the Roxbury is definitely not a film worth spending a second on, it has a special place in my heart for memorializing a unique segment of the Middle Eastern community.
A Night at the Roxbury is about two brothers (Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell) who live in L.A. and spend every waking minute either hitting up clubs or thinking about opening their own club. They have no job, no education, and they live a comfortably spoiled life under their parents’ roof in Beverly Hills. They’re also not very bright and their attempts to meet women are met with embarrassing disaster. Thats it. This is what the movie is about. Like many past SNL-based feature films, A Night at the Roxbury is based on a popular SNL skit that starred Kattan, Ferrell, and usually a 3rd guy who was usually played by the show’s weekly host.
When the skit first hit SNL, Kattan seemed to be the more popular of the duo. I always thought Kattan was funnier than Ferrell in their early days on SNL and I mainly watched SNL just to watch his skits. However, Kattan quickly disappeared after a string of flops and Will Ferrell became perhaps the biggest success to come out of SNL since Eddie Murphy. In A Night at the Roxbury, Kattan clearly has the bigger spotlight than Ferrell even though they’re in every scene together. Kattan seems to better embody the role with his hilarious physical look and mannerisms (NOTE: Kattan is partially of Jewish-Iraqi descent so he has Middle Eastern blood in him, which may explain why he fits the role better). I think I would have enjoyed the routine just as much had it just been Chris Kattan. As bad as this film is, its still enjoyable to watch him.
As for Will Ferrell, he is the Jeff Daniels to Jim Carrey’s character in Dumb and Dumber if that gives you any idea of the significance and impact of his role. He plays a simpleton who spouts stupid lines in a L.A. surfer tone. I didn’t find him particularly funny and I though he weighed the film down. I didn’t mind him in the SNL skits because there was usually a 3rd person in the group and they were usually funnier than Ferrell. The Will Ferrell that audiences have come to love was still a few years away when this movie came out. I always thought he was annoying during the early days of his career and I was a bit reluctant to see his films when he began starring in them. A Night at the Roxbury is not one of Ferrell’s best moments and he mostly plays second fiddle to Chris Kattan.
The film has a few interesting actors rounding out the rest of the cast. Loni Anderson just seems to pop out of nowhere as the brothers’ hot cougar mom. She doesn’t have a lot of screen time and thats probably a good thing. Dan Hedaya plays the brothers’ dad who owns a fake plant store. Hedaya pretty much plays the same kind of role he seems to have patented over the years: an always angry, stressed out man who shouts all the time (i.e. see Clueless). Molly Shannon, another SNL alum, appears as Will Ferrell’s love interest. I’ve seen Shannon do great work on SNL, but unfortunately she didn’t get to show off her talents here. Finally, and most interestingly, we also have Chazz Palminteri, who plays a club owner. I’m going to throw out a wild guess and assume Palminteri was merely trying to get a paycheck. Otherwise, I don’t think its possible to explain how the fuck a man of his talents could or would want to be in a movie like this (unless he too absolutely loved the SNL skit). Oh, there is one more actor I forgot to mention who makes a special appearance playing himself: Richard Grieco!! I’m not sure whether to consider Grieco playing himself as funny or pathetic but I’ll let you decide.
The problem with just about all SNL-based movies is that translating a 5 minute skit into an 1 hour 30 minute feature film is near impossible. A few of them have worked, but the vast majority of these translations represent a textbook example of how not to make a movie. Nonetheless, I found myself laughing at a few jokes in A Night at the Roxbury. The gag with the brothers using a story of how they met Emilio Estevez to meet girls is pretty funny and their conflict with their father works pretty well too. However, the remainder of the humor falls flat and the film commits a most unspeakable act: it tries to get serious and convey a message!!!!
A Night at the Roxbury is bargain bin movie at best. I have provided you with the best bits from the movie below so you won’t have to watch the whole thing. I love the skits so much that I wish they had never made the movie so I could be left with a good memory of the characters. Instead, my memories got forever tainted with a garbage film.