50/50 Review #24: Scotland, PA.

The last film of Rachel's/Shakespeare's Month is actually not only not in Elizabethan English, but also based on a play I've actually read/am familiar with. Here we take a more modernized look at the tragedy of Macbeth... by turning it into a dark comedy. Taking place in 1970s Scotland, Pennsylvania, this film tells a story surrounding the burger joint Duncan's, owned by Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn). Under him are married couple Joe 'Mac' McBeth (James LeGros) and Pat McBeth (Maura Tierney), who just want to move up in the world, especially after three hippies (Timothy Levitch, Andy Dick, and Amy Smart) give him the idea that he (Mac) could. So after killing Duncan, the McBeth's take over the business from his sons, Donald (Geoff Dunsworth) and Malcolm (Tom Guiry), and start to do really well. At least, until Lieutenant McDuff (Christopher Walken) shows up looking for answers. It also doesn't help that their fry cook, Anthony 'Banko' Banconi (Kevin Corrigan), is a little suspicious of them himself.

Updates of stories, particularly Shakespeare, are almost always a ton of fun. You always try to make connections to the source material, and it's always a hoot seeing how they make it work in the present (or at least in a more modern time period). I haven't really read the play in years, so I actually did a refresher before really getting into the movie. And I'd say it did a pretty bang-up job. Of course, I was disappointed not to hear even any attempt to add in even hints of famous lines "Double double, toil and trouble... Something wicked this way comes" or "Out, out, damn spot!"). But they still managed to play really well with the slipping mental state of the McBeth's. Oh, and I guess the curse of the Scottish play lives on... considering this was the one and only movie this director ever made.

The cast was fine with it, too. The language was updated, which on the one hand made it infinitely easier to follow... but at the same time saddened me that I didn't get to hear Christopher Walken do Shakespeare. Though Walken was fantastic and goofy, as per usual. Maura Tierney stole the show as the obsessive and then slowly-going-insane "Lady Macbeth" character. But somebody please tell me that I'm not the only one... who couldn't stop thinking about Mark Wahlberg anytime James LeGros was on screen, which was the majority of the movie. Seriously, as long as you weren't right in the guy's face, he looked almost exactly like him. Not to mention it would be a perfect character (or at least version of this character) for Marky Mark to play.

Otherwise I don't have many thoughts on the film. Of this month of Shakespearean films, it might not have been the technically best, but it was certainly one of if not the most entertaining. Again, that might have something to do with the fact I actually knew the play this time around. (Also, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the others weren't entertaining--except Richard III... sorry, Rachel--I particularly loved Much Ado About Nothing, and Titus was also bizarrely fascinating). But on the whole, while not perfect, this film was really fun.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. And that's it for Rachel's/Shakespeare's Month! It was certainly an experience! I honestly didn't know what I would feel going into this month, but on the whole it was pretty enjoyable... with just a little stumble here and there. Next month belongs to Dylan with a few of his personal favorites. So let's hope we're still friends after it's over.)


  1. Yeah, this movie is pretty great.

    I've seen a few versions of "Macbeth" set in some vaguely more modern time (late 1800s, WWI-era), played pretty much straight up. But setting the action in a burger joint? Inspired.

  2. It's strange that another updated version of the story I recently watched had the whole thing take place in an upscale restaurant. Apparently the food industry (cheap or expensive) is a cutthroat business. If you have time (though you probably don't) check out ShakespeaRe-Told. The BBC did four revamps of his plays back around '05. Macbeth and Much Ado are the best, Taming of the Shrew was pretty good, but avoid A Midsummer Night's Dream at all costs.

    Glad you had a relatively decent month. 75% is still passing!


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