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|Also Known As:||Robert Michael Schneider||Died:|
|Born:||October 31, 1963||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||San Francisco, California, USA||Profession:||Cast ... writer actor comedian producer restauranteur dance club owner shoe salesman|
bite-sized appearance in Sandler's "Mr. Deeds" (2002) and the animated "Eight Crazy Nights" (2002), in which he both narrated the Hanukah-based film and voiced a Chinese waiter. While not the powerhouses of their predecessors, the films proved impervious to critics and did respectable business from Sandler's loyal fans.
The critically-bashed comedian took a particularly pointed barb, however, with a 2002 episode of the animated series, "South Park" (Comedy Central, 1997- ) titled "The Biggest Douche in the Universe." Although the writers pegged TV psychic John Edwards as the subject of their title, they considered Schneider enough of a frontrunner to satirize him as well. In a stinging running joke, a series of trailers ran throughout the show for various brain-dead movies in which Schneider is magically transformed into a stapler, a carrot and the oft-killed character Kenny. Although Schneider took the joke magnanimously, the episode and audience response reflected the prevailing low opinion of the comedian at that time. As Sandler moved away from the dim-bulb aspects of his comedic persona with each film, the bulk of the broad comic relief fell to Schneider, who seemed thrilled to don yet another oddball accent as witnessed by his performance of Ula in "50 First Dates" (2004). Another of his strange concoctions, Schneider's characterization offended some as a blatant deadbeat Hawaiian male stereotype, compounded by Ula's unhappy marriage, pack of willful children, and repeated physical humiliations for the enjoyment of white onlookers. While Sandler's romance with a memory-impaired Drew Barrymore covered some surprisingly emotionally resonant territory, Schneider remained firmly pigeonholed and disparaged by critics.
A big part of the critical animosity towards Schneider did derive from his tendency to play heavily exaggerated ethnic roles in Sandler films. Although the actor excused himself by invoking his own complex ancestry - born to a secular Jewish father and Catholic mother, herself the daughter of a Filipina and American - some critics were not convinced. Never afraid to defend himself, the outspoken Schneider wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Times in 2004, defending his portrayal of Ula. The debate itself, as well as Schneider's eagerness to challenge naysayers, would continue to mark his career. After punching his Sandler cameo timecard in the surprisingly successful remake of the football classic, "The Longest Yard" (2005), Schneider returned to his most successful solo role, as the newly widowed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" (2005). A painful copy of the original, the sequel found America's weirdest export entertaining another series of outrageous women, while trying to catch a murderer intent on wiping out Europe's top "man-whores." Without the sweetness and humor of the original, the film failed at the box office and gave Schneider's considerable detractors a fresh opportunity to rake him over the coals. For his work in the film, Schneider was awarded the dubious honor of a Razzie Award for Worst Actor. This, however, would not be the last public lambasting the comic would take for this film.
While writing a piece on the difficulty that year's Best Picture nominees had faced in getting made, L.A. Times critic Patrick Goldstein referred to the Schneider film, saying it was "sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic." In response, Schneider took out full-page ads in Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, attacking Goldstein's lack of awards and professional recognition, writing, "Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers." He continued the attack on Goldstein during talk show appearances, culminating with Roger Ebert capping his scathing review of "European Gigalo," with, "As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks." Schneider fired back in the press at Ebert, but public opinion overwhelmingly sided against the actor. The two publicly buried the hatchet in 2007, when Schneider sent the cancer-stricken Ebert a get-well bouquet and card, and the critic said he sincerely hoped the actor would make a high-quality film.
Schneider's pen only got sharper, however, when he chose his next target: Mel Gibson. After Gibson's drunken arrest and misogynistic, anti-Semitic rantings to the police became public, Schneider took out another full-page ad in Variety. His "open letter to the Hollywood community" avowed that he would never work with Gibson, and urged others to do the same, undercutting its effectiveness a bit with a jokey plug for an upcoming film, "Big Stan" (2008). Returning to the Happy Madison factory, Schneider churned out small roles in underwhelming fare like "Grandma's Boy" (2006) as well as box office successes like the Sandler vehicle, "Click" (2006). A lead role in the cookie-cutter underdog sports comedy "The Benchwarmers" (2006) gave Schneider a moderate hit at the box office, but also his fourth Razzie nomination, reflecting an overweening attitude towards the actor rather than a serious critique on his performance.
Critics continued to negatively single out Schneider even in small roles, decrying what some considered the borderline-racist humor of his portrayals of "Asian Minister" in the Sandler/Kevin James gay marriage comedy, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" (2007), "Salim" in the Sandler Israeli-superhero flick "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (2008), and an Indian horse seller in the Sandler fantasy kid picture, "Bedtime Stories" (2008). Continuing the trend, the Razzies also bequeathed Schneider his sixth overall nomination - this for Worst Actor of the Decade in 2009. For all the hard knocks he took professionally, Schneider received little publicity for his charitable works. By 2009, the comedian's charity, The Rob Schneider Music Foundation, had spent 14 years working with the Pacifica School District and had donated almost $2 million to maintain the community's school instrumental music program.
Critical claws came out, however, came with the straight-to-DVD U.S. release of "Big Stan" (2009). Schneider directed and produced the movie, as well as starred as a con artist sentenced to jail and so obsessed with the possibility of being raped that he becomes a martial arts expert. Critics outdid themselves excoriating every aspect of the film and of Schneider's involvement, but the actor had some relief licking his professional wounds by embarking on a comedy tour and nabbing one of the starring roles in the summer comedy tentpole, "Grown Ups" (2010), starring his old "SNL" buddies, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and David Spade.ences -including Schneider channeling his inner dolphin - critics savaged the project and audiences followed suit. The combination of Schneider's perceived lack of charisma as a leading man and the outlandishness of the film's plot seemed to solidify public opinion against the actor, with his name becoming an easy punchline for writers and comedians.
"The Hot Chick" (2002), Schneider's co-writing and starring follow-up, met with outright malice from critics, reacting more to Schneider himself than to the underrated body-switching comedy, which did decent box office. While including a clever "SNL" catchphrase callback in a Sandler cameo, the film also gave Schneider his most complex comedy part. After a pair of magical earrings causes Rachel McAdams to switch bodies with a small-time crook, the film followed Schneider, who proved both funny and touching as he essayed the spirit of a teenage queen bee. Next up, Schneider stuck to what had always worked, making a typical
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