There are some pretty sure signs that a movie will be bad, such as actress Loni Anderson being featured in the cast, or if the film in question was spun off a "Saturday Night Live" skit.
So when "A Night at the Roxbury" fulfills both those requirements, the film has a lot to overcome. And since the inspiration for this nearly laughless dance club comedy wasn't especially funny to begin with, it's bound to be an endurance test.Actually, you kind of have to admire its stars, SNL cast members Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan, who remain in character throughout the movie, though even they must know it's going nowhere fast.
Ferrell and Kattan (who also co-wrote the script) star as Steve and Doug Butabi, two smarmy dance club patrons who have aspirations of owning their own club someday. However, at this point in their lives they'd settle for just getting into the Roxbury, L.A.'s No. 1 nightspot.
Both dreams seem about to be realized when the brothers literally bump into television actor Richard Grieco (playing himself), who gets them into the Roxbury and helps them make some important business connections. Suddenly the brothers have it all, including hanger-on girlfriends (Gigi Rice and Elisa Donovan).
But it's just as quickly taken away, and a rift between the two develops as the dimwitted Steve resigns himself to a loveless marriage with neighbor Emily (Molly Shannon) - a pairing arranged by his business-minded father (Dan Hedaya) - and Doug wallows in self-pity.
Veteran television director John Fortenberry, making his feature-film debut, shows little talent for setting up the few jokes that might work, and the only real laughs here come from a couple of well-placed musical soundtrack gags.
Of course, he's saddled with two basically unsympathetic main characters, which obviously doesn't help. For one thing, Ferrell and Kattan's one-dimensional shtick never gives us a reason to care about these two jerks.
And the supporting cast appears to be bored and uninspired - except for Grieco and Anderson, who look grateful just to be working.
"A Night at the Roxbury" is rated PG-13 for vulgar jokes and use of vulgar slang, simulated sex, profanity, male and female partial nudity, and a violent tussle.