Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie features characters taking advantage of one another. It hints at the fact that the scam victims' money was ill-gotten, and therefore they deserve to be fleeced. No one in this film is particularly moral. If the two scammers have a fatal flaw, it's their overconfidence rather than their immorality. Steve Martin's turn as a developmentally challenged, and later, physically challenged, man plays mental and physical deficiencies for laughs.
What's the story?
In DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS Steve Martin and Michael Caine compete in a battle of sleazy shysters. When boorish American Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) homes in on debonair European Lawrence Jamieson's (Michael Caine) territory, Jamieson offers to become Benson's tutor. Benson bristles at Jamieson's attempt to condition him, and the two agree to a not-so-friendly competition to bilk a young heiress out of her fortune.
Is it any good?
It's fairly entertaining, but Martin and Caine never establish the chemistry of a great comedy team, and the gags tend to get repetitive. If the film has anything going for it, it's the unpredictability of the game of courtship between two men and one woman. Due to the subject matter, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is not appropriate for kids.
The difference between European cultural pretension and American crassness is at the center of the comedy. The film is a role reversal of sorts, with men fleecing women who have presumably come upon their fortunes by marrying doddering millionaires. It's enjoyable to watch Caine pretend to be a psychologist, and Martin is as animated as ever, faking paralysis only to dance for joy in the following scene. The story turns into a standard wager plot, with the real winner discovering his scruples just in time to save his soul. Needless to say, the swindlers get their comeuppance, the scammers become the scammed, and the story ends with yet another hoax in the offing.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether those who swindle deserve to be swindled. Is there any place for such retributive vigilantism in our society? Is such a thing common? Is it okay to take advantage of the rich, just to even things out? Is being clever better than being good?