Rob Schneider returns as an unlikely male prostitute in "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," who after some mishaps in Malibu heads for further adventures in Amsterdam, where he finds his former pimp T.J. (Eddie Griffin) suspected of being a Jack the Ripper-type killer of male hustlers. T.J. is more alarmed at being viewed as possibly gay, an unsettling thought in a macho extreme gross-out comedy reveling in all manner of sexual activity and involving a wide range of physical deformities and bathroom humor.
The mentality is that of a middle-school male grappling with puberty, but an R rating will make the movie largely off-limits to boys, as it's not the kind of picture parents generally take their children to see. In a script fashioned from a story written for himself, Schneider really isn't much of a gigolo but rather a dimwitted do-gooder. Director Mike Bigelow maintains a mercifully swift pace, and while the film's humor is deliberately as crass as humanly possible, it is not truly mean-spirited, even though Amsterdam is depicted as a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah.
Maine city faces 'Somali Invasion'
Ziad H. Hamzeh's "The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion' " charts the chaos that Larry Raymond, the elderly, conservative mayor of Lewiston, Maine, unleashed in the wake of 9/11 when he wrote an open letter declaring that more Somali refugees would not be welcome in his city. Raymond has said that Lewiston, in decline since the waning of its textile industry in the 1960s and '70s, has "maxed out" its economic resources. But his missive sparked anger directed at the 1,100 Somali refugees who under a progressive mayor had been welcomed to the picture-postcard town.
The letter encouraged the least-educated and poorest sectors of the community to lash out at Somali neighbors who they believed got a better break from the government — information from City Hall needlessly inflamed the situation. Raymond's letter triggered a media circus and attracted the attention of hate groups, which culminated in a rally staged by the World Church of the Creator and a counter-demonstration celebrating civic unity and multicultural diversity that involved more than 4,000 concerned Lewiston citizens.
"The Letter" has a terrifying in-your-face immediacy, a strong cross-section of talking heads on both sides of the debate, and cuts deeply into the cultural wars dividing this country. Yet it could have been even more powerful with more context, clarity and a well-defined timeline. Undeniably strong, "The Letter" is at times misleading and confusing, possessing the raw materials for a much more coherent and potent film.
"The Letter: An American Town and the 'Somali Invasion,' " unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes. At Laemmle's Grande 4-Plex, 345 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A. (213) 617-0268.