Dir: Billy Morrissette, 2001. Starring: James LeGros, Maura Tierney, Christopher Walken. Comedy.
Though it appears to be the love child of Ronald McDonald and William Shakespeare, Scotland, PA is only the most innovative adaptation of Macbeth, which was forgotten about after it went to Sundance. Its satire, while crude and greasy, just like the worst fast food server, is so un-artsy and plain that it can honestly be called upon frequently when you have a craving for some simple, yet refreshing comedy. To add to its charm is an already off-beat cast that gives, perhaps, their funniest and most quirky performances.
I must commend Maura Tierney for her role as the modern Lady Macbeth, which she played with excellent style, and her co-star, James LeGros, for his depiction of Macbeth. For the sake of being interesting, their last name is McBeth, and everyone calls her Pat and him Mac. Instead of being regal characters during the Renaissance, they are two ordinary folks in the '70s who work at Duncan's, a former donut shop owned by Norm Duncan. Notice the catchy play on an actual food chain. Duncan is trying to branch out and get new ideas for fast food, and under his employ are a ton of outrageous characters, including his sons, and many whom you'll recognize. Like most people in food service, the McBeths are extremely restless, causing the dynamic of their marriage to be bittersweet. Their sex life is at its peak (the two go at it like rabbits), but the romance turns sour when Pat constantly nags Mac about his inability to break away from Duncan, or at the very least, stop blurting out good ideas and letting him take the credit for them.
While Mac is wandering around an empty carnival site, he is approached by two intoxicated hippies (the Greek chorus), who lead him to a fortune teller (the prophet, played by Amy Smart). She shakes her toy 8-ball and mentions a concept that has never been invented: drive-tru. Dismissing the entire ordeal, Mac returns to work the next day and hears of an employee being fired, which could mean a promotion for him and his wife. When Duncan approaches the two about his confidence in them, he shares a trade secret that he hopes to turn into a reality. The idea is to move deeper into the fast food business and build a drive-tru. Mac is shocked that the prophesized babble he recently heard was actually a lucrative idea that he simply sat on, and once again he puts in his two cents about how to make it work, which Duncan desperately jots down. But Pat has reached her boiling point and will no longer stand for living life as the wife of an assistant manager. She insists that they must kill Duncan and use the drive-tru idea for their own business.
Well, if you're familiar with Shakespeare's Macbeth, you know that Duncan does get killed. The McBeths become the new owners and have the place revamped and renamed in no time. Once again creating a spoof of a real chain (McDonald's), it is called McBeth's and has a giant red "M" instead of golden arches, yet still has the same color scheme. I'm surprised that no lawsuit came from the movie and glad that at least Shakespeare's works are public domain.
A few months go by and it seems as though they have done a bang-up job of getting away with murder, until Lt. McDuff (Christopher Walken), the officer covering the case, begins showing up more frequently. The person they framed for the murder was released due to insufficient evidence, and now McDuff must retrace his steps and try to narrow down his suspects. The McBeths try to hold together their new, booming business and deceive the lieutenant, killing anyone who comes in the way. But, just like in the play, the two lose their grip on reality and start hallucinating. As their sanity grows thin, McDuff begins to suspect that they might be the culprits, as does the entire town who sees their strange behavior.
This was the first and only film that Morrissette directed after years of being a TV actor. It tanked in the box office and was not well received, which makes me think that those who favor Shakespeare didn’t take too well to seeing it adapted into a dark comedy. But how can you not be in admiration of someone dying by being dipped in a deep fryer? What's not to love about seeing Christopher Walken playing a sensitive, vegetarian cop who meditates in his car and is adorably neurotic? The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces who, though given little time on the screen, were a pleasure to watch, including Andy Dick, Amy Smart, and Kevin Corrigan. This is a great twist for a classic tale and an awesome independent dark comedy that, apparently, didn’t stand a chance.