Like so many other former Saturday Night Live-ers before him, Norm Macdonald attempts to make the jump to feature films…and falls flat on his face. Dirty Work is an embarrassingly bland comic failure.
Macdonald stars as Mitch Weaver, a pathetic loser who can’t hold a steady job or even a girlfriend. He has only one good friend, Sam (Artie Lange), whose father (Jack Warden) is in desperate need of a $50,000 heart transplant… money that neither Sam nor Mitch have.
All looks bleak until Mitch discovers a way to make money from his one true talent: creating elaborate revenge schemes. He and Sam start up Dirty Work, a revenge-for-hire business. They help people to get even…from little old ladies to billionaire Travis Cole (Christopher McDonald). But will they be able to make enough money in time? And will anyone stay in the theater long enough to find out?
The film boasts a wide variety of cameos. Chevy Chase, Don Rickles, Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, John Goodman, and even Gary Coleman all appear at one time or another. But aside from simple shock value, they have very little to add.
Norm Macdonald doesn’t have much of a repertoire here. His one smug tone might make him a good straight man…but it doesn’t work well when he’s supposed to be the comic center of the film. The film simply hops from one oddly bland revenge gag to another with little humor in between.
There are slight glimmers here and there of moments of humor trying to break free in the film’s darker moments. When Dirty Work unknowingly pulls a revenge prank on a bunch of murderous drug lords, for example, the movie skates eerily close to humor. Alas, what could have been a quirky dark comedy quickly collapses back into the dull, stale routine.
There may be a good film lurking in the heart of Norm Macdonald…but Dirty Work shows that it’s buried deep.