Let’s start the ball rolling; next year will mark 25 long years of societal decline since 1998’s comedy classic A Night at the Roxbury, and the occasion should be marked in a meaningful way, but how? Statues? Tribute songs? Maybe the best way to celebrate our memories of Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as LA clubbers Doug and Steve is just to re-watch their Saturday Night Live sketches and pore over this John Fortenberry-directed feature which was critically reviled back in the day, but is no better or worse than many other comedies of the times. Sample dialogue?
Steve Butabi: Oh my God, Doug. This is the most amazing place I’ve ever been.
Richard Grieco: Guys, guys. This is the coat room. The club’s in here.
There’s also a remarkable array of supporting talent on show; this could be the cast of a David O Russell or PT Anderson movie, with Chazz Palminteri, Dan Hedeya, Jennifer Coolidge, Molly Shannon and of course, VHS legend Grieco playing himself. The 90’s action star crashes his sports car into the back of Doug and Steve’s dad’s floral lamp-shop van, and he agrees to get the boys into The Roxbury, a fabled night-club which the boys have long aspired to entering.
A Night at the Roxbury has got the same catchphrase heavy feel of Wayne’s World or even Bill and Ted, but it’s remarkably free of crude gags and the plot plays out in the way you’d hope, with Steve and Doug discovering that the person the really need has, sniff, sniff, been right there all along. Let’s face it, there’s few activities in life more pretentious and deserving of parody than clubbing, and A Night at the Roxbury is your plus one to a suitably wasted weekend on and off the dancefloor.
Playing better now than at the time, the music choices are also pretty good, from Haddaway’s iconic EDM hit What is Love? to Ace of Base’s trenchant anthem Beautiful Life to Scottish traditional lament Do Ya Think I’m Sexy reworked here by dancefloor masters N-Trance and Rod Stewart, and the whole A Night at the Roxbury package feels like it’s been in a retro time-capsule yet still comes up box fresh. Sure, it’s a silly, lightweight film that plays like the extended SNL sketch that it is, but who cares? Sometimes a little light relief is in order…