I thought it would be interesting to follow up my review of Blues Brothers with a review of another SNL spin-off, so I chose Roxbury since I enjoy the old “What Is Love” sketch. I went into the film expecting a weak, virtually plotless story about detestable characters, and perhaps it was my low expectations that allowed me to kind of enjoy the film. I could tell I was watching no masterpiece, but it was surprisingly easier to watch than Blues Brothers. Why? It was simple.
I’m all for movies that get a bit complex in terms of story structure and details, such asCLUE in terms of a detailed screenplay or Pulp Fiction in terms of a unique story structure. The problems occur when a movie is more wrapped up in details and complexity than it is in showing/telling the plot. The Dark Crystal suffers from this, although I still respect it deeply, and I wonder if Blues Brothers is in a similar category. Blues Brothers is hard to follow only because it seems to forget where it’s going, and there is something unsettling about following an unfocused movie. After all, a filmmaker is, to a large extent, the tour guide through an unknown world, and it’s a little disrespectful to the tour group to wander about aimlessly instead of focusing on what the tourists came to see. (I am unwavering in my conviction that audiences don’t go to theaters to see films, but rather to experience stories, so I naturally propose that the story ought to be the focus of nearly every movie.)
While I do not mean for this to become another review of Blues Brothers, I think the comparison is important to me because of how much easier it was to watch Roxbury, if only because it was more focused. I know on an intellectual level that Roxbury is a weaker film, but it felt easier to watch, and I think that’s where simplicity and focus come into play. It’s pretty clear from near the beginning that the story is simply two idiots trying to get into a nightclub, and I suppose Blues Brothers has a story with about the same simplicity. The difference is that Roxbury is only about 80 minutes long, whereas Blues Brothers, which could have been the same length, is over two hours long. Roxbury was kind enough to get to its point … the problem is, it doesn’t have much of a point.
It’s severely lacking in humor, and some critics have gone as far as to say that the film only has one joke: the protagonists are idiots. I contest, as I think the butt-touching gag was fun, but it’s not good when the best joke in the film is butt-touching. I didn’t hate the protagonists as much as I thought I would since there seems to be some kind of innocence about them. They clearly just never grew out of middle school, and they very much reminded me of my younger self, so I was able to empathize with the characters. I honestly was routing for them, wondering how the story and conflicts would all be resolved, which I suppose means it didn’t fail as a movie. It just failed as a comedy, and certainly did not reach the heights of the comedy films I most enjoy. I certainly don’t hate the film, since it is basically harmless; I just think it’s best for the viewer to be doing something else to keep his/her mind busy while it’s on, lest the mind be weakened by the stupid.