We all have our short list of actors – no matter where they appear – we go out of our way to sit still for a couple of hours and see what they've done lately. Such is my love for Christopher Walken, which is precisely how "Scotland, PA" found its way to my VCR.
The premise is wonderfully odd – 'McBeth' set in the fast food industry circa small town 1975; story by Bill Shakespeare, soundtrack by Bad Company. Directed by Billy Morrissette, the focus is one very horny couple 'Mac' and Pat McBeth. Played by James LeGros and Maura Tierney, they can't seem to get enough of one another as they toil away at Scotland's local diner, Duncan's Café, owned by the stern and dim-witted Norm Duncan, played by James Rebhorn.
While Mac has crazy new ideas for improving the diner (people ordering food from their cars? Chicken pieces for dipping?), it's Pat's ambition that drives the couple to a deep-fried murderous act. This is the catalyst for the café's rebirth as the very progressive, glitzy 'McBeth's' – which firmly introduces Mac and Pat as the new fast food power couple of Scotland, PA.
It's one big Camaro-driven, floods-wearing, wood-paneled dream until Lieutenant McDuff, (played by my hero, Mr. Walken) appears and starts asking questions. Not only is he just the nicest cop (everyone hugs him, much to his confusion) but he also expresses genuine admiration for what the McBeth's have done to the diner. McDuff has an unfulfilled passion for the restaurant industry, but his vegetarianism always seems to get in the way of his dreams.
As McDuff sniffs around, Mac's best friend, Banko (played by another big favorite, Kevin Corrigan) grows suspicious. Nervously guilt-ridden, Mac becomes more distant and aggressive as Pat loses her sexual power over him. Meanwhile, Mac is being tortured by his own cruel demons, which are very specifically two sharped-tongued effeminate guys, Hector and Jesse, and one spooky blonde, Stacy. Played by Anthony Levitch, Andy Dick and Amy Smart, they lead him into destructive behavior for their own amusement.
"McBeth's" is a study in French fries, small town power and intense, organ-gnawing guilt. In a brilliant display of deep-seated emotions playing mind tricks, Pat becomes obsessive about tending to the burn on her hand obtained during the slaying. All the bandages and Neosporin in the world don't seem to heal the wound that, to her eyes, appears to be festering. Ultimately, she fears the sight of her own lethal paw and begins to plot its murder as well.
The ending of "McBeth's" is priceless – a couple of dreams die while one blossoms. Not only would Shakespeare loved it . . . he would've gotten fries with that.
© 2003 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 8/24/03
USA - 2001