Scotland, Pa. (2001)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy, Farce, Parody/Spoof  |   Release Date - Feb 8, 2002 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Billy Morrisette's Scotland, PA is a misguided attempt to update Shakespeare's +Macbeth that almost gets by on the strength of its talented cast. It's not that Morrisette's adaptation isn't reverential enough. Michael Almereyda's thoughtfully updated +Hamlet and even Gil Junger's appealingly lightweight 10 Things I Hate About You are successful re-imaginings of the Bard's work. Morrisette's main problem isn't that he sets +Macbeth in a 1970s American fast-food restaurant, it's that he attempts to turn +Macbeth into a comedy. The concept is mildly amusing, at best. In an early scene, the three stoned witches (an effectively irritating hippie trio -- Andy Dick, Timothy "Speed" Levitch, and Amy Smart), discuss the relative merits of the bucket of chicken they're eating and the carnival they've attended. "The fair was foul. The fowl was fair," of course. This is cute, but it only goes so far. It's wonderful to see James LeGros (as Norm "Mac" McBeth) return to indie filmmaking after his stint on TV's Ally McBeal, and he's the same committed actor he's always been. Maura Tierney (Morrisette's real-life wife), who plays the cleverly manipulative Pat McBeth, is sexy and talented. The wonderful Kevin Corrigan has disappointingly little to do, other than act "dazed and confused" as Mac's friend, Banko. The redoubtable Christopher Walken nearly saves the movie with his sly performance as Lieutenant McDuff, but he doesn't have enough to work with. Morrisette's script is chock-full of 1970s references and musical cues passing for jokes, and it just grows tiresome. The mayhem in the film is played for black comedy, but it's grotesque, rather than witty. Finally, if +Macbeth is not a comedy, it doubly isn't a Farrelly brothers-style gross-out comedy. Morrisette gets solid work from his cast, but his script isn't up to their standards, let alone Shakespeare's.