Plot: Marvin (Rob Schneider) works at the evidence counter, but he dreams of being a real police officer, to protect & serve all those around him. But he is not that strong, not that fast, and not that smart, so he remains behind the counter, where he can’t get into too much trouble. After he fields a 911 call however, he thinks his fate will change and it will, but not in the ways poor Marvin expects them to. He ends up in a horrific car accident and is close to death, but after one week, he wakes up and feels just like new. It seems he would have died, but a strange scientist used animal parts to rebuild him, which saved his life. Now filled with all sorts of animal instincts and abilities, Marvin becomes the police officer he’s always wanted to be, complete with massive fame from the general public. He is able to move faster, jumper higher, and pretty much handle any situation, thanks to his animal abilities. But will these animal instincts remain under control when he doesn’t need them, or will they prove to be more trouble than they’re worth?
Entertainment Value: A favorite of infamous faux critic David Manning, The Animal was rushed into production as a writers’ strike loomed, but falls in line with the usual Adam Sandler produced comedies. That could be good or bad news, depending on how you feel about Sandler’s brand of humor and The Animal is steeped in it. Some of the humor even references previous movies from Sandler’s crew, with callbacks to running gags in those films. The Animal plays like a ridiculous, over the top romantic comedy, with Rob Schneider trying to win the affections of Colleen Haskell, while also coping with a plethora of animal abilities and urges. The narrative is of course beyond ludicrous, but the movie never tries to be serious in the least and given the sense of humor involved, a serious attempt at plot would seem out of place. The humor is silly and often random, with a blend of sight gags, verbal barbs, and pratfalls, the typical Sandler blend, as I mentioned before. I would rank The Animal toward the lower end of the pack, but fans of Sandler’s crew should have some laughs here. But if you don’t appreciate that style of humor, this one isn’t likely to make you a believer.
Rob Schneider has the lead in The Animal and while he isn’t often handed the reins like this, he embraces the silliness of the material. He had some experience as a lead, thanks to Deuce Bigalow and given the similarities between the two movies, this role wasn’t much of a stretch. He isn’t the most charismatic comic out there, but the movie seems to know that and tries to compensate by ramping up the ridiculous elements, such as the animal traits. In other words, Schneider isn’t asked to much besides act silly and make animal noises, which he does with aplomb. The role is in line with this usual output, so fans will appreciate it and non fans, not so much. Colleen Haskell made her film debut in The Animal and despite having immense charm, wouldn’t return to the movie screen for a second run. She was one of the most beloved Survivor players of all time and here, she shows a similar level of charm and charisma. The cast also includes Edward Asner, John C. McGinley, Adam Sandler, and Norm MacDonald.