Norm McDonald's Beautiful Story (About Making A Godawful Movie)
The world is still reeling from the tragic loss of Norm Macdonald, one of the all-time comedy greats/only reason why many of us know who Frank Stallone is. Norm had the uncanny ability to uncompromisingly bend even the most rigid external frameworks to fit his own distinct voice, be it the Weekend Update desk on Saturday Night Live, a Comedy Central Roast, or even sponsored content for man-based meat grilling technology.
But while he was unquestionably one of the funniest human beings on the entire goddamn planet, Norm Macdonald’s film career as a leading man didn’t go so well. Sure there was Dirty Work, about a guy who starts a revenge-for-hire business, which certainly has its fans. But somehow, even less-renowned than Dirty Work was Screwed, the 2000 dognapping comedy co-starring Dave Chapelle and Danny DeVito.
The movie was written and directed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the screenwriting team that penned acclaimed films like Ed Wood, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Problem Child -- if you think that last one wasn’t acclaimed, you clearly were never around a schoolyard circa 1990. Entertainment Weekly called Screwed a “shrill, stupid, brickbat-blatant piece of hackwork.” But in spite of its bad reputation, back in 2014, Norm Macdonald shared some lovely stories behind the making of the movie on Twitter, following the death of Broadway legend Elaine Stritch who also appears in the film.
Norm recalled that at the “beginning of the movie, me and Dave weren't close. By the end, I loved him.” The pair would stay up “all night thinking up jokes” and then “hung out in each other's trailer and laughed all day.” When they met Stritch, she invited Macdonald and Chappelle into her trailer, held up the script, and remarked: “You guys know this is a bunch of shit, don't you?" Then, according to Norm, she “spent her entire time trying to make the movie better” because, as she told them at the time: “Every time I make a film, I think I am making someone's favorite movie.” Which is true; even Screwed is someone’s favorite movie. After making the film, Norm and Stritch apparently talked on a weekly basis. A surprisingly sweet outcome from a total dog crap flick. RIP Norm, and thanks.
Top Image: Universal Pictures