The Michigan Daily
Wednesday, January 11, 1989
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
BY ALYSSA KATZ
Consider the following situation:
Dick: Jane, I really want to see a
Jane: Yeah, me too. How about
Rain Man ?
Dick: Naah, too serious. The
same goes for Mississippi Burning.
Jane: Then what about The Acci-
dental Tourist ?
Dick: I dunno. The dog looked
cute in the commercial, but the
movie's based on a novel, isn't it? I
don't want to have to do any think-
ing. Hey, we can see Hellraiser II...
Jane: No, that's too violent. I
want something a little less heavy.
But I can't think of anything.
Dick: Yeah, I'm stumped too...
(tense pause)... Well, you know, it's
getting late, and I've got lots of work
to do. I'll, uh, talk to you soon, OK?
It's too bad. If Dick and Jane had
only remembered that Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels was playing, they could
have spent a nice evening together.
Not a profound evening, or a stirring
one, or even a revolting one, but one
during which they would have
laughed and forgotten about the 97
pages of Kant they had to read for the
In this remake of the 1964 film
Bedtime Story, Michael Caine and
Steve Martin play Lawrence and
Freddy, con men who prey on the
gullible along the French Riviera.
Lawrence, who is the embodiment of
the word "suave," runs a high-class
operation: he has refined taste in art
and wine and refuses to practice his
craft on anyone but rich people, usu-
ally crass American women. Freddy,
on the other hand, is a loudmouthed
jerk who tells his victims that he is
raising money to help his ailing
grandmother. The two work together
for a while, but begin to compete
when they realize that the resort town
they're working in can't support two
con artists. So they agree on a bet:
the one who first gets $50,000 from
an American "soap queen" can stay in
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is con-
sistently funny, if unsophisticated at
times. A comic highlight is the se-
quence in which Freddy, having
begged Lawrence to teach him the art
of high-stakes swindling, is forced to
play "Ruprecht," Lawrence's de-
mented younger brother. Here, Mar-
tin is at his manic best, jumping
around wildly, banging on pots and
pans, and acting like a nightmare vi-
sion of a little brother. Caine gets a
chance to shine in an earlier scene,
when he tells his rich victim that
he's a prince and needs her money to
support the "freedom fighters" in his
homeland. And Glenne Headly, play-
ing Janet, the naive American "soap
queen," manages to turn in a good
performance despite being stuck in a
This film's major problem is one
that plagues so many American
comedies: when the screenwriters try
to develop the plot in the second half
of the film, the actors and director
have to struggle to make the humor
shine through all the contrivances.
The three lead actors are stifled by
this phenomenon: Caine affects a
goofy German accent, Martin is con-
fined to a wheelchair (hence the es-
sential physical aspect of his comedic
style is lost), and Headly, an accom-
plished stage actor, is forced by the
Steve Martin and Michael Caine may be having a toast, but in reality, they're two crumbs as
they play con men who scam women out of money in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
screenplay to portray Janet as shal-
low and uninteresting. That this film
remains so hilarious despite the
screenplay's flaws is a credit to the
great talents of the actors and of the
director, Frank Oz.
So don't see this movie if you're
looking for something that will
make your spirit soar, challenge your
fundamental beliefs, or add to your
understanding of the human condi-
tion. The recent crop of potential
Oscar contenders is more than ade-
quate for such purposes. But if an
Academy Award were given for "Best
Mindless Comedy," Dirty Rotten
Scoundrels would at least be a nom-
Have You Seen Me Lately?
Warner Brothers Records
If you haven't seen him lately,
here's your Screamin' Sam Kini-
son fix. For less than the price of a
concert ticket, you get 45 minutes
of primo Kinison, including his
updated version of the hoary rock
classic "Wild Thing," an edited
form of which has been showing
up on the radio.
You won't hear any of his other
stuff on the radio, though. Sam's
so bad he gets two warning stick-
ers on his album: the standard
"Explicit language and material"
one, and a new one, "Opinions ex-
pressed in this recording do not re-
fleet the views of Warner Brothers
Whew. He does get into some
pretty down and dirty stuff. Start-
ing with "The Story Of Jim"
(Bakker, an overused comedy/satire
topic, but deservedly so), and run-
ning through "Jesus The Miracle
Caterer," Sam works a line of
jokes sure to offend anyone with-
out a sense of humor about reli-
gion. His background as a preacher
(no lie!) gave him plenty of mate-
rial to choose from, plus the added
experience of working a crowd.
The taboo against such harsh reli-
gious jokes just makes it a more
tempting target for Sam's derision.
Other subjects he takes aim on in-
clude necrophilia, anal sex, con-
doms, and the rock against drugs
Comedy albums won't take the
place of live comedy anytime
soon. Just look at their sales.
Louder Than Hell, Kinison's de-
Dragons- Jan.12, 13, 14, 15
Musical by Sheldon Harnick
based on a Russian political alle-
gory. Eligibility-students in School
of Music and theatre concentrators.
Others need permission. Script on
reserve available in Music library.
Thurs., Jan. 12 - Vocal audi-
tions at Mendelssohn Theatre. May
begin as early as 4:30 p.m. Call for
appointment time-763-5213. Bring.
Fri., Jan. 13 - Preliminary
readings at Mendelssohn.
Sat., Jan.14 - Dance auditions
at Power Center rehearsal room.. -
2:30 p.m. - women. 2:30-4 p.m.
Further info: see Frieze bulletin
board on second floor.
Mass Meeting. Thurs., Jan. 12, 5
p.m. at Arena Theatre in Frieze
Basement Arts will present a five
readings of plays being considered
for production. Mon. - Fri., Jan 16-
20 at 5 p.m. Sign up on sheet on
the 2nd floor of the Frieze Building.'
RC Drama/Players (With Brecht
Still need one female to play a
combination of three roles. Contact
Director Martin Walsh, 426-5389.
We Won't Pay
A political farce"un.,
I EARN $5.00-
Jan. 15 7-9 p.m. and Mon. Jan. 16
1-3 p.m. Be familiar with the
American translation of the play.
Scripts available in the University
Productions office in the Michigan
Auditions Mon., Jan. 16 at 7
p.m. at 2528 Frieze Building. Class
times Mon. 1-4 p.m. and Tues. 3-6
If you have any information re-
garding auditions or other oppor-
tunities in theater, contact Cherie
Curry at 763-0379.
HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE UNIVERSITY
BY CALLING MICHIGAN ALUMNI
Sam Kinison's latest LP is the PMRC's worst nightmare.
but album, was one of the biggest
comedy albums ever, selling over
200,000 copies. Def Leppard's lat-
est, by contrast, has sold over 7
million copies. But comedy al-
bums can help tide you over 'til
the next time your favorite artist
pops into town. If you're up for
serious, in-your-face, over the edge
comedy, Sam's your man and this
is your album.
- Chuck Skarsaune
CIE ADR C ~ I
*LAST DAY TO SIGN
UP FOR INTRAMURAL
Intramural Sports Building
Intramural Basketball Managers' Meeting
Thurs., January 12 6pm Intramural Sports Building
IM ICE HOCKEY ENTRIES ARE DUE
4:30pm Intramural Sports Building
or stop by 611 Church, #304
Experience That Pays
I D tf, L
Have questions? Call 763-3562
Start the Semester off Laughin'!
GI AURA CK
Stand Up Comedy
Presents the comedy of...
with student funnyman...
WITH YOUR HOST