The Dieter Movie:
A Script Review
The Dieter Movie A Script Review By Mike White. Rather than crashing and burning with his Saturday Night Live character-based film, Mike Myers walked away from Wayne’s World a happy man...
Rather than crashing and burning with his Saturday Night Live character-based film, Mike Myers walked away from Wayne’s World a happy man. Even the sequel, whose box office returns paled in comparison, was a modest success with some critics and audience members finding it funnier than the original. In fact, it wasn’t until Myers branched out on his own that he foundered with So I Married An Axe Murderer. It was later when Myers found Austin Powers that he managed to successfully break away from his SNL life...or did he?
Surprisingly, shortly after Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Myers began working on the script for The Dieter Movie along with SNL writers Jack Handy and Michael McCullers. If you care to remember, Dieter-another character from his Saturday Night Live days-was Myers’s take on German nihilism. Clad in black from head to toe, the bespectacled and wan Dieter reveled in the twisted and absurd. Like Wayne Campbell, Dieter was the star of his own television show. Rather than having fun with shtick like "Extreme Close-Up," Dieter gets his farfegnugen from guests touching his monkey and dancing.
It’s said that The Dieter Movie underwent no less than fourteen revisions over a two year span from 1998-2000 (the screenplay procured for this article is bereft of date and revision number). The plot-what little there is-finds Dieter robbed of his monkey, Klaus, and traveling to the United States to get him back. From there it’s the conventional fish out of water tale with the Teutonic TV host experiencing a tacked-on love relationship and a less-than-suspenseful whodunit (or, in this case, "Hasslehoff-dunit"). The majority of the comedy (and I use that term loosely) comes from Dieter’s perverse sensibilities and the use of David Hasselhoff as a villain.
There are a few funny moments interspersed throughout such as the parody of Wings of Desire, the homoerotic relationship between Dieter and Dick Van Patten, and a pitch Dieter gives to Brian Grazer and Ron Howard (once set to produce The Dieter Movie) for Two-Headed Old Yeller. Apart from the aforementioned and a few throwaway references to Fritz Lang and Friedrich Nietzsche, Dieter doesn’t have much to offer. However, being barren of comedy never stopped an SNL film from being produced before. What happened?
After years of work, Myers stepped away from the project claiming that he couldn’t "cheat moviegoers who pay their hard-earned money to see my work by making a movie with an unacceptable script." Apparently, Myers lost such scruples between this project and The Cat in the Hat -the film that he was obligated to make (after some litigious wranglings) for Universal after backing out of Dieter.
Given my druthers, I’d have rather seen Dieter than The Cat in the Hat. Luckily, the death of Dieter, while not putting the kibosh on The Ladies Man, appears to have temporarily ended the spate of SNL -based films. If anything, Myers realized that Austin Powers was his harbinger. While movies like Superstar, Night at the Roxbury, and It’s Pat were tanking at the box office, other SNL alum were making films with more realized lead characters like Little Nicky, Dickie Roberts, Deuce Bigalow, and Ron Burgundy (call it The Ace Ventura phenomena). While the world may or may not be better off with the aforementioned, a world with out Church Lady: The Musical, Makin’ Copies, The Operal Man Movie can’t be all bad. We can only hope that Dieter died for Lorne Michaels’s sins.
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