SCOTLAND, PA. (director/writer: Billy Morrissette; screenwriter: based on William William Shakespeare’s Macbeth; cinematographer: Wally Pfister; editor: Adam Lichtenstein; music: Anton Sanko; cast: James LeGros (Joe ‘Mac’ McBeth), Maura Tierney (Pat McBeth), Christopher Walken (Lt. Ernie McDuff), Kevin Corrigan (Banco), James Rebhorn (Norm Duncan), Tom Guiry (Malcolm Duncan), Geoff Dunsworth (Donald Duncan), Andy Dick (The Hippie Jesse), Amy Smart (The Hippie Stacy), Timothy ‘Speed’ Levitch (The Hippie Hector), John Cariani (Ed the Cop), Timothy Durkin (Frank the Pharmacist), Nate Crawford (Robert/Richard), Josh Pais (Doug McKenna), Glenn Wadman (Andy the Homeless Guy); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Richard Shepard/Jonathan Stern; Lot 47; 2001)
“It’s as nourishing as a Big Mac with fries.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
“Scotland, PA” updates Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” into a comedy set in an early 1970s rural Pennsylvania fast-food place (an imitation of McDonalds). The satire is not funny but bursting with sophomoric exuberance and trite characterizations and a plodding pace. This low-budget indie is a vulgarization of Shakespeare that relies on bizarre characters and gimmicks instead of wit for its humor. It’s as nourishing as a Big Mac with fries.
Actor Billy Morrissette’s first feature takes the bard’s tragedy of murderous ambition and places it smack in the era of President Nixon—but unfortunately the filmmaker just leaves it at that without putting any political bite into the farce except making the villainous Macbeth character into the town idiot.
In this dull remake, Joe ‘Mac’ McBeth (James LeGros) and his ambitious wife Pat (Maura Tierney) are beleaguered restaurant workers in a fast-food shop owned by Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn) and managed by oily Doug McKenna. After feeding their boss ideas on how to expand his operation by opening a drive-thru window and telling him that his manager is ripping them off, the boss offers Mac a promotion to be assistant manager and instead rewards his oldest son Malcolm (Guiry) with the manager’s gig. Egged on by his wife and encouraged by speaking to the three prophetic hippies who are like Shakespeare’s Three Witches in Macbeth, Joe decides to rob the restaurant. But while forcing Norm to give him the combo to the safe by conking him over the head with a frying pan, he accidently knocks Norm’s head into the french fry grease pit instantly killing him.
Malcolm, who wants to be a rock star and had many issues with his dad over his long hair and working in the restaurant, is glad to sell the restaurant for a song to the McBeths just to get rid of it. Malcolm’s gay younger high school football playing brother Donald is just happy being gay and no longer having to hide it, and is comforted that the widowed dad left them a pile of money. Upon purchasing the restaurant, the McBeths immediately turn it into a McDonald’s replica and become instantly wealthy.
Since the town’s local cop Ed (Cariani) is closer to being a moron than a moron, outsider Lieutenant Ernie McDuff (Christopher Walken) takes over the case. His shtick is that he’s a health-food nut and he uses that and everything else he knows about chewing scenery to chew his way through all that’s in front of him. He arrests a homeless man named Andy because he’s wearing Norm’s jewelry, but lets him go for lack of evidence. He then suspects Malcolm because he learns of his dislike for his father and he has no alibi. But a fellow fast-food worker of the McBeths, Banco (Corrigan), leaves a note telling McDuff that the McBeths’ alibi on the night of the murder is bogus.
Both McBeths are not capable of having guilty feelings or bright ideas on how to cover their tracks–thereby Joe takes it upon himself to murder a few more. There was nothing funny about all this greasy stuff. Tierney’s part called for her to go insane over a minor grease burn she had, while Legros acts as a cowardly brute who is easily led and someone we’re supposed to laugh at because he’s so retarded and sees ghosts. This Shakespeare remake is like eating a cold ‘Big Mac.’
REVIEWED ON 10/31/2002 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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