Plot: What’s it about?
Marvin (Rob Schneider) works at the evidence counter, but he dreams of being a real police officer, to protect & serve all those around him. But he is not that strong, not that fast, and not that smart, so he remains behind the counter, where he can’t get into too much trouble. After he fields a 911 call however, he thinks his fate will change and it will, but not in the ways poor Marvin expects them to. He ends up in a horrific car accident and is close to death, but after one week, he wakes up and feels just like new. It seems he would have died, but a strange scientist used animal parts to rebuild him, which saved his life. Now filled with all sorts of animal instincts and abilities, Marvin becomes the police officer he’s always wanted to be, complete with massive fame from the general public. He is able to move faster, jumper higher, and pretty much handle any situation, thanks to his animal abilities. But will these animal instincts remain under control when he doesn’t need them, or will they prove to be more trouble than they’re worth?
One of infamous critic David Manning’s top picks, The Animal is a predictable and immature picture, but it is also a whole lot of fun. I mean, you had to know this was going to be a low brow comedy just from the previews, not to mention that Rob Schneider is the lead, for heaven’s sake. So I went into the theater and expected a dumb, but humorous movie and in the end, that’s just what The Animal turns out to be. This is one of those “laugh at them, not with them” flicks and while the story is forced at times (especially the romance), this is still a solid comedy, so long as you like Schneider and his performance style. Not to mention the presence of the world’s sexiest Survivor, Colleen Haskell in her big screen debut, which adds some welcome eye candy to The Animal. I didn’t find this to be as hilarious as Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, but it offers a lot of laugh potential and if you liked Deuce, you should be pleased here. I recommend this release to fans of Schneider and dumb comedies, especially since Columbia has issued an excellent Special Edition. This new version has a minor amount of added footage, but not enough to make an impact, so those with the original releases have little reason to upgrade.
He is by no means a great actor or even a good one, but Rob Schneider can be quite humorous, with the right roles. His brand of humor won’t win everyone over, but fans of “dumb loser makes good” stories should enjoy his work. He uses funny faces, pratfalls, and humiliation to make the audience laugh and more often than not, it works. I think he does well enough in The Animal, but he isn’t quite as good as he could be. I prefer his verbal humor as opposed to outlandish physical routines, but I still had a good time here. Of course, his choice in roles is limited to low brow comedic efforts, but there’s an audience for that, without a doubt. You can also see Schneider in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, Knock Off, Susan’s Plan, The Waterboy, and Necessary Roughness. The cast also includes Colleen Haskell (TV’s Survivor), John C. McGinley (Office Space, Talk Radio), and Edward Asner (Hard Rain, El Dorado).
Video: How does it look?
The Animal is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As per usual on their new releases, Columbia has supplied a gorgeous visual effort, with minimal complaints to make on any front. The print looks clean and shows no wear signs, which is good, since this one moved from theaters to DVD in a matter of months. The colors are vibrant and bold, with no errors to speak of, while flesh tones remain natural at all times. I saw no problems with contrast either, as detail is high throughout and black levels are always well balanced, without exception. Another new release from Columbia and of course, another top notch visual presentation. This is about as good as The Animal can look on DVD, which is about all we can demand.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is your typical dialogue driven comedy track, but it does have a few bells & whistles, which liven up the experience. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is based in the front channels most of the time, but often moves to the back for the musical soundtrack, as well as some well placed sound effect presence. I wouldn’t call this track immersive, but the background noise is well done and adds to the experience, to be sure. The dialogue is always clean and well balanced too, so you won’t have to fiddle with the volume controls here. A step above the usual comedy mix, this track earns a little extra in terms of score, as the audio is quite good indeed. This disc also includes subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This ain’t called a Special Edition for nothing, as Columbia has loaded down The Animal with bonus materials. This disc even includes not one, but two audio commentary tracks, one with Schneider and one with director Luke Greenfield. As expected, Schneider is humorous and remains brisk with his comments, while Greenfield is more technical, which slows down his session more than a little. In any event, kudos to Columbia for lining up both tracks for this kind of movie, as we fans love to see them included, even on dumb comedies. Next up is Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy: The Animal, a twenty-two minute piece that is pretty fluffy, but has some decent interviews. In the tradition of X-Men & The Matrix, The Animal sports an option where an icon appears, then you click your remote and viola, a deleted scene is played. This is called Badger Hunt in this case and while the scenes aren’t great, it’s still neat to have them on deck. This disc also includes a brief behind the scenes featurette, “What’s In Marvin” game (in which correct answers yield bonus video clips), talent files, and the film’s theatrical trailer.