Scotland, Pa.

Basically a one-joke film, but the joke is a good one. In the small town of Scotland, PA, an evil brew of greed, betrayal and murder is about to boil over. Joe "Mac" McBeth (James LeGros) and his frighteningly ambitious wife, Pat (Maura Tierney), both work at Duncan's, a roadside hamburger joint owned and operated by Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn), the erstwhile...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Basically a one-joke film, but the joke is a good one. In the small town of Scotland, PA, an evil brew of greed, betrayal and murder is about to boil over. Joe "Mac" McBeth (James LeGros) and his frighteningly ambitious wife, Pat (Maura Tierney), both work at Duncan's, a roadside hamburger joint owned and operated by Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn), the erstwhile donut king. Mac is full of ideas about the future of fast food (how about pieces of fried chicken with dipping sauce?), but Norm isn't listening. When Norm passes over Mac to give the new manager position to his unqualified, headbanging son, Malcolm (Tom Guiry), Mac's thoughts turn to murder. Pat sets it up: They'll sneak into the cafe after closing time, whack Duncan over the head with a frying pan and make it look like a robbery. The murder doesn't go entirely according to plan (Duncan winds up in the Friolator), but they do manage to pull it off. Pat frames an innocent homeless man (Glenn Wadman), Malcolm takes off for Atlantic City, and the Duncan's burger empire, now equipped with an innovative drive-thru and renamed McBeth's, is under new management. The McBeths very nearly get away with it, until Mac's friend Anthony "Banco" Banconi (Kevin Corrigan) gets suspicious and starts asking questions, and big-city police lieutenant Ernie McDuff (Christopher Walken) comes to Scotland looking for answers. The joke is that actor-turned-writer-director Billy Morrissette's debut feature is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, complete with multiple murders, a stubborn (grease) spot and a party-crashing ghost. Perhaps sensing the limitations of the concept, Morrissette sets the tale in the 1970s and revels in the sheer awfulness of the era: awful hair, awful clothes, awful music — remember "I'm Not Lisa"? Amusing, but aside from the odd streaker, it's nothing That '70s Show doesn't pull off on a weekly basis. The real inspiration lies in the ways in which Morrissette's script squeezes the play's themes and motifs into such an unlikely setting. (The film opens with the three witches sitting atop a carnival Ferris wheel eating chicken, which prompts the immortal lines, "The fowl is foul, and the fair was fair.") The plotting gets unnecessarily overcomplicated and the film runs nearly as long as a theatrical version of Macbeth, but the AM-radio soundtrack and game cast — Tierney and the inimitable Walken especially — keep this unusual comedy from choking on its own conceit.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Basically a one-joke film, but the joke is a good one. In the small town of Scotland, PA, an evil brew of greed, betrayal and murder is about to boil over. Joe "Mac" McBeth (James LeGros) and his frighteningly ambitious wife, Pat (Maura Tierney), both work… (more)

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