Animal review by Dave Richards
The jokes are trickled in front of us so we can choose which ones to laugh at and which ones not to. Most of them fall in the latter category, but the film still plugs along and ultimately embodies originality and sincerity.
Rob Schneider, who is not always the most reliable of stars (Judge Dredd, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo), works amazingly well in The Animal as the lowly Marvin Mange. Mange has a long-time dream of joining the police squad, but is stuck with the duties of an evidence clerk because he can't get past the obstacle course in training.
Marvin gets a chance to look after the precinct when his counterparts cruise to a softball game. When a call comes in about a robbery in progress, old Marvin jumps at the chance to save the day.
Marvin's pursuit to the robbery unfortunately ends in him rolling his car off of multiple cliffs. The wreck is so bad that it's amazing that the car survives, let alone Marvin.
He doesn't know it yet, but while in the hospital, some of poor Marvin's body parts have been replaced by those of animals.
It isn't long before he's cuddling up to every animal he sees and lifting his leg when he's attracted to another person or another animal.
There is one person who does catch his eye, an animal rights activist named Rianna (played to perfection by original Survivor member Colleen Haskell).
Rianna admires Marvin in some strange way and the two find a way to strike up a romance.
If the dumb jokes in The Animal are a turnoff, the amazing on-screen chemistry by Schneider and Haskell gives the film some redemption. Schneider turns in one of the best performances of his career (although that's not saying to much) and Haskell finds the right notes as the squinty-eyed, soft-spoken girl next door type.
The supporting characters also add a refreshing touch to the film, including the performances by Ed Asner as the police chief and John C. McGinley as Marvin's arch nemesis.
On the surface, The Animal looks like one of those horrible, Saturday Night Live spin-offs, but it uses some originality to stand above the unfunny-movie competition.