Scotland, Pa

on February 08, 2002 by Annlee Ellingson
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   Based on “Macbeth,” “Scotland, PA” bears remarkable resemblance to the Shakespeare play, if the setting (early 1970s rural Pennsylvania), central characters (white trash fast-food mogul wannabes) and language (including a spate of four-letter words) are far-removed.

   Mac (James LeGros) and Pat (Maura Tierney) MacBeth are underappreciated and underpaid by their boss (James Rebhorn) at Duncan's Restaurant, and when he decides to promote his uninterested son Malcolm (Tom Guiry) to manager of the diner, assigning Mac as his assistant, Pat decides enough is enough. The pair offs Duncan in a deep-fat fryer, but not before gleaning his latest idea for a drive-through window, and buys the restaurant from Malcolm for dirt cheap. Renamed McBeth's and redesigned with a giant M on the building exterior (pun whole-heartedly intended), their business flourishes under their care, and Mac is finally able to implement his ideas, like chicken nuggets.

   Meanwhile, vegetarian Lieutenant McDuff (Christopher Walken) is investigating the crime with no help from the inept local law enforcement; the couple's friend Banko (Kevin Corrigan) becomes increasingly suspicious of them, necessitating his murder; Mac's delusions, including visitations by three crazy hippies and manifestations of his dead friend, intensify; and Pat slathers ointment on the oil burn she got on her hand the night of the murder long after it's disappeared. Surrounded by over-the-top performances, Tierney here masterfully conveys the complexity of an ambitious woman who manipulates her success through her husband but is racked by guilt, all the while keeping it light enough to elicit laughs.

   On the surface a silly comedy, “Scotland, PA” would be forgettable if it weren't such a clever adaptation of the bard's tragic play. It's the comparison of the two that's the most fun. Starring James LeGros, Maura Tierney, Christopher Walken, Kevin Corrigan, Amy Smart and Andy Dick. Directed and written by Billy Morrissette. Produced by Richard Shepard and Jonathan Stern. A Lot 47 release. Comedy. Rated R for language, some nudity, drug content and brief violence. Running time: 95 min

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