A Night at the Roxbury

USA 1998

Reviewed by Danny Leigh


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

Beverly Hills. Ardent clubbers Steve and Doug Butabi are refused entry to exclusive LA nightclub, the Roxbury. Returning home, Steve is given a ticket by a policewoman with whom he immediately falls in love. Steve and Doug spend the following day working at their father's shop, where Doug sweet-talks a female credit-control telephonist and Steve is pursued by neighbour Emily. That night, the brothers unsuccesfully attempt to bribe their way into the Roxbury. En route home, television star Richard Grieco scrapes their car's bumper; worried about litigation, he gets the Butabis into the club.

Inside, they share a table with the owner Mr Zadir, and are mistaken for businessmen by two women with whom they subsequently lose their virginity. In the morning, they visit Zadir's offices to tell him their idea for a new club, but are ejected by his chauffeur. Their conquests of the previous night abandon them. Distraught, the brothers argue; Doug moves out of the room he shares with Steve and into the family's guest house.

Emily and Steve become engaged. At the wedding, Doug appears brandishing a tape recorder playing his and Steve's favourite club anthem. Steve leaves Emily; the brothers track down Zadir, who becomes their business partner. At the opening of their own club, Steve and Doug spend the evening with their new girlfriends: the policewoman and the telephonist.


Despite the fitful nature of the results, a job on the venerable US sketch show Saturday Night Live has long been a golden tickets for comics seeking to transfer their talents to cinema. In the tradition of the first SNL spin-off, The Blues Brothers, such vehicle are often little more than an extended riff based around characters already established on the small screen. A Night at the Roxbury is simply the latest variation on the theme. Despite some ferocious competition, it may also be the most profoundly unfunny.

When the formula works, as it did with Penelope Spheeris' Wayne's World (with its pair of dim-witted losers embroiled in an insular music subculture), the secret lies in the instant recognisability of the protagonists. Even for a British audience denied the opportunity of seeing the characters in their original milieu, Wayne and Garth were given enough personality for the humour to resonate. Doug and Steve Butabi, on the other hand, have no believable existence outside this tired procession of set-ups and punchlines. Presumably we are supposed to empathise with their role as perennial outsiders, forever striving to make it beyond the Roxbury's velvet rope. Yet it is difficult to identify with the only defining traits of those pampered imbeciles: vanity and ignorance. Director John Fortenberry, whose unwillingness to venture beyond the most prosaic storytelling devices betrays his background in television comedy and exacerbates Roxbury's air of an over-extended skit, simply casts us adrift in a sea of unfamiliar catchphrases and cultural references. The intertextuality of casting Richard Grieco, leading man o f the US series 21 Jump Street, as himself will surely baffle anyone lacking a through knowledge of US television's lower depths.

Moreover just as it fails to find an equilibrium between mocking Butabis' naivety and deifying their innocence, Roxbury cannot decide whether to sneer at or fetishise its clubland locale. On the one hand, it is exclusively populated by shallow and mendacious airheads; on the other, the only visible alternative (marriage) is proposed to be more status-driven and soul-destroying.

Indeed, if there's one group of people Fortenberry appears to hate more than clubbers, it is women. Amid the countless scenes in which the Butabis harass innumerable mini-skirted extras, every female character is a gold-digger or a walking castration complex. The only exceptions, tellingly enough, are the boys' nameless dream dates - referred to throughout as 'Hottie Cop' and 'Credit Vixen' - and their own mother. In fact, with their admiring glances at the mother's surgically enhanced cleavage, their repressed hatred of their overbearing father and terror when confronted with aggressive female sexuality, the boys end up- looking persistently Oedipal. Such inadvertent kinkiness may be intriguing, but it comes at the expense of genuine comedy.


Lorne Michaels
Amy Heckerling
Steve Koren
Will Ferrell
Chris Kattan
Director of Photography
Francis Kenny
Jay Kamen
Production Designer
Steven Jordan
David Kitay
©Paramount Pictures Corporation
Production Companies
Paramount Pictures presents in association with SNL Studios a Lorne Michaels and Amy Heckerling production
Executive Producer
Robert K. Weiss
Marie Cantin
Steve Koren
Associate Producer
Erin Fraser
Production Office Co-ordinator
Christine Haas
Unit Production Manager
Marie Cantin
Location Managers
Mike Fantasia
Eric Klosterman
Assistant Directors
J. Stephen Buck
Susan Fiore
Mark S. Constance
Script Supervisor
Esther Vivante
Jeff Greenberg
Cathy Reinking
Voices International
Camera Operators
Michael Negrin
Louis Barlia
Computer Graphic Imagery
Banned From The Ranch Entertainment
Computer Graphics Producer:
Casey Cannon
On-set Supervisor:
Glenn Cannon
CGI Department Co-ordinator:
Gail Wise
Video Editor:
Lauryl Duplechan
Special Effects
Kam Cooney
Mark Lilienthal
Art Director
Carl Stensel
Set Decorator
John Philpotts
Timothy L. Braniff
Costume Designer
Mona May
Costume Supervisor
Lucinda Campbell
Make-up Supervisor
Alan 'Doc' Friedman
Supervising Hairstylist
Melissa Yonkey
Main Title Design
Adam Perri
Pacific Title
Orchestra Conductor
David Kitay

Pete Anthony
Xandy Janko
Music Supervisor
Elliot Lurie
Music Editor
Terry Wilson
Music Recordist/Mixer
Tim Boyle
"What is Love" by Dee Dee Halligan, Junior Torello, performed by Haddaway; "Pop Muzik" by Robin Scott, performed by 3rd Party; "Where Do You Go" by Franz Reuther, Bischof-Fallentein, performed by No Mercy; "That Old Black Magic" by Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, performed by The Chuck Cahn Orchestra featuring Erica Lively; "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" by Elliot Lurie, performed by The Chuck Cahn Orchestra featuring Erica Lively; "Where Everybody Knows Your Name (theme from "Cheers")" by Gary Portnoy, Judy Hart Angelo; "Bamboogie" by Harry Wayne Casey, Richard Finch, concept & keys by Andrew Livingstone, performed by Bamboo, contains sample from "Get Down Tonight" performed by K.C. & the Sunshine Band; "Beautiful Life" by John Ballard, Jonas Berrggren, performed by Ace of Base; "Stayin' Alive" by Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb, performed by Bee Gees; "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart, Carmine Appice, performed by N-Trance, Rod Stewart; "Make That Money" by Robert Clivilles, Manuela Kamosi, performed by Robi Rob's Club World; "Be My Lover" by Gerd Saraf, Donald McCray, Melanie Thornton, Ullrich Brenner-Aheirmer, performed by La Bouche; "Everybody Come Around", "Energy Bar" by/performed by V. Renn; "Disco Inferno" by Leroy Green, Ron Kersey, performed by Cyndi Lauper; "Lifting Me Higher" by/performed by Ray Dean; "Buttons and Bows" by Jay Livingston, Ray Evans, performed by Bruno Bertone Orchestra; "Nightmare" by Alberto Bertapelle, performed by Brainbug; "Thanks for the Memory" by Leo Robin, Ralph Rainger, performed by Bruno Bertone Orchestra; "He Ain't Heavy...He's My Brother" by Bob Russell, Bobby Scott, performed by The Hollies; "This Is Your Night" by Christian Beermann, Frank Beermann, Marie-Claire Cremers, Gilbert Montagne, performed by Amber; "Stella by Starlight" by Ned Washington, Victor Young; "Your Touch" by
Maureen Bailey, William Bryant II, performed by Karolyn Gandy, Kimbra Westevelt; "Your Everything I Want" by/performed by Sandell & Watson; "Everybody Hurts" by Michael Stipe, Michael Mills, Peter Buck, William Berry, performed by R.E.M.; "Careless Whisper" by George Michael, Andrew Ridgeley, performed by Tamala; "Cocktails for Two" by Arthur Johnston, Sam Coslow; "A Little Bit of Ecstasy" by Glenn Gutierrez, performed by Jocelyn Enriquez; "Wedding March" by Richard Wagner; "Insomnia" by Rollo Armstrong, Ayalah Bentovim, Max Fraser, performed by Faithless; "Secret Garden" by/performed by Bruce Springsteen
Mary Anne Kellogg
Sound Mixer
Jim Tanenbaum
Re-recording Mixers
Matthew Iadarola
Gary Gegan
Don DiGirolamo
Supervising Sound Editor
Cameron Frankley
Supervising Dialogue Editor
Michael Szakmeister
Dialogue Editors
Carin Rogers
Richard Corwin
Sound Effects Editors
Kerry Dean Williams
Jeff Clark
Dave McDonald
Bob Baron
David Boulton
Mel Zelniker
Supervising Editor:
Jeff Watts
Avram Gold
Victoria Rose Sampson
Mary Andrews
Sarah Monat
Robin Harlan
Carolyn Sauer
Randy K. Singer
Supervising Editor:
Christopher Flick
Thomas Small
Tammy Fearing
Stunt Co-ordinator
Pat Romano
Will Ferrell
Steve Butabi
Chris Kattan
Doug Butabi

Dan Hedaya
Kamehl Butabi
Molly Shannon
Emily Sanderson
Richard Grieco
Loni Anderson
Barbara Butabi
Elisa Donovan
Gigi Rice
Lochlyn Munro
Dwayne Hickman
Fred Sanderson
Meredith Scott Lynn
Credit Vixen
Colin Quinn
Raquel Gardner
Hot Girl
Vivica Paulin
Paulette Francese
Porsche girls
Jennifer Coolidge
Hottie Cop
Michael 'Big Mike' Duncan
Roxbury bouncer
Trish Ramish
Roxbury Club girl
Gina Mari
Saturday Night Fever girl
Roy Jenkins
Kip King
flower customers
Mary Anne Kellogg
aerobics instructor
Maree Cheatham
Mabel Sanderson
Kristin Dalton
Grieco's lady
Deborah Krieger
topless woman
Betty Bridges-Nicasio
Zadir receptionist
Yoshio Be
Victor Kobayashi
Japanese men
Twink Caplan
crying flower customer
Eva Mendez
Mark McKinney
Father Williams
Chad Bannon
New Club bouncer
Jim Wise
Patrick Ferrell
Dorian Spencer
New Club waiters
Tina Weisinger
New Club waitress
Chazz Palminteri
Mr Zadir, nightclub owner
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
tbc feet
tbc minutes
Dolby stereo/DTS
In Colour
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011