A scene from 'Screwed'
Courtesy Photo
no stars 97 minutes | Rated: PG-13
Opened: Friday, May 12, 2000
Written & directed by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski

Starring Norm MacDonald, Dave Chappelle, Danny DeVito, Elaine Stritch, Sherman Hemsley, Sarah Silverman & Daniel Benzali

This film is on the Worst of 2000 list.


Don't do it. You'll hate yourself.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 9/26/2000


 LINKS for this film
Official site
at Rotten Tomatoes
at Internet Movie Database
Illustrious screenwriters' directorial debut a moldering mess of sorry kidnapping slapstick

By Rob Blackwelder

"Screwed" is a low-brow dognapping caper comedy that had all the early warning signs of a real stinker.

Finished two years ago, Universal Studios has kept it on a shelf until this week, and then sneaked it into theaters without any early screenings for the press -- almost always a sure indicator that they know how bad it is and want to get a weekend's worth of ticket sales in their pockets before the word gets out.

So I went to see the picture Saturday afternoon because that's my job -- and shared the theater with seven other people who apparently came voluntarily. Not one of us laughed through the entire picture, and I very nearly fell asleep.

"Screwed" is not only humorless, and nearly plotless, it's dull, dull, dull.

Embarrassing themselves in key roles are Saturday Night Live alum Norm MacDonald (a funny guy but a lousy actor), stand-up comic Dave Chappelle and Danny DeVito. MacDonald plays a brow-beaten chauffeur who plots to ransom the treasured lapdog of his harping dowager employer (Elaine Stritch). Chappelle is his Black Thang-schtick best friend, and DeVito is a twisted, troll-like mortician recruited to aid in a cover-up when the dognapping backfires and MacDonald decides to pretend he's the one being ransomed instead.

Co-written and co-directed by illustrious biopic scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (they wrote "Ed Wood," "People Vs. Larry Flynt" and "Man on the Moon") without a whiff of the talent they've shown as screenwriters in the last few years, "Screwed" depends heavily on excess for its presumed comedy.

If something isn't all that funny, their philosophy seems to be that they can make it better by dragging it out. Like the multiple denture jokes, or when the Yorkshire Terrier bites MacDonald's hand during the kidnapping. He screams, waves his arms about wildly (with the dog still attached), splattering blood all over Stritch's mansion's fancy foyer. This goes on for a good two minutes. Ben Stiller pulled off something like this in "There's Something About Mary," but Norm, you're no Ben Stiller.

Before they turned to writing Oscar-nominated biographies, Alexander and Karaszewski earned their bread and butter on crappy kid fare like "Problem Child" and the "That Darn Cat" remake -- and "Screwed" is still the worst thing they've ever done.

Clearly not cut out to be directors (they can't even put together two takes of the same scene without the seams showing, or keep the actors from looking toward the camera for approval), after watching this moldering mess of sorry slapstick it's hard to not wonder if their seemingly brilliant biopics would have been just as bad without visionary directors like Tim Burton and Milos Forman at the helm.

In Association with
or Search for

powered by FreeFind
SPLICEDwire home
Online Film Critics Society
All Rights Reserved
Return to top
Current Reviews
SPLICEDwire Home