Scotland, PA Review

Feb 08, 2002 | 2:05pm EST

In the early '70s scheming husband-and-wife lowlifes Mac and Pat McBeth work menial jobs at Duncan's Restaurant a popular greasy spoon in tiny Scotland Penn. Their boss Norm Duncan shares with them his idea to upgrade his eatery into a new-fangled operation that will allow patrons to drive up in their cars and order food. In a flash of rare inspiration the chronically stupid Mac suggests the even more efficient method of eliminating personnel by allowing customers to place orders themselves via intercom. Norm loves the idea but only rewards Mac with a nominal promotion to assistant manager. Furious Mac and Pat plot Norm's death and the takeover of Duncan's. The diabolical duo murder Norm by adding his head to the fries in a vat of boiling oil. With Norm's irresponsible sons immersed in other pastimes Mac and Pat successfully take control of the restaurant and turn it into a smashing fast food success. But complications ensue when Lt. Ernie McDuff investigates and restaurant employee Banco also Mac's good buddy becomes suspicious and turns against his friend. Although Mac and Pat thanks to their fast food success have traded their trailer park-like existence for a more upscale neighborhood justice lies just around the corner and threatens to tear it all away.

James LeGros and Maura Tierney (writer/director Billy Morrissette's real-life wife) are highly amusing as the wicked McBeths with LeGros handling hunky stupidity in an appealingly manly manner and Tierney oozing equal amounts of evil and lust. Christopher Walken as the gumshoe who hopes to crack the case is both '70s-style cool and utterly tacky. Kevin Corrigan registers as a dim-witted cipher who unexpectedly evolves into a dangerous nuisance and James Rebhorn is appropriately clueless as the hapless restaurateur.

Actor Billy Morrissette who makes his feature directorial debut here and also delivered the screenplay displays an assured knack for humor and a clear ability to entertain. His script is packed with shameless Shakespearean puns but the dialogue convinces in spite of the silliness. Morrissette also manages to reign in his over-the-top characters and situations so that they embody their own truths. Throughout Morrisette gives us delicious eye-candy with his attention to style as he his cinematographer and production designer deliver a hilarious send-up of the tacky '70s and the fast-food revolution. There are the clothes (wide collars were never wider) the kitschy decor (Naugahyde madness) the pop culture addictions (Yahtzee) and of course the rock 'n' roll. Until the last quarter of the film when momentum begins to sag Morrissette maintains a controlled canny grip on the droll goings-on.

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