One of the few reliably funny recurrent skits on “Saturday Night Live” in recent years has had Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan as two seemingly coke-addicted, desperately “hip” losers who trawl through Manhattan clubland, rebuffed over and over by all womankind. Of course, a three-minute sketch is one thing, a feature another. The track record of SNL-drawn movies is dire (“It’s Pat,” “Stuart Saves His Family,” “Blues Brothers 2000”), and this one stands just a peg higher, as an amiable, if flyweight, di-version. With fall screens dominated by grown-up fare, “Roxbury” should score good short-term change from younger auds, then hale ancillary returns.
Opening seg reprises the skit’s basic shtick — hair-gelled, silver-chained, satin-blazer-wearing brothers Steve (Ferrell) and Doug Bubati (Kattan) cruise niteries to the endless thump of disco tune “What Is Love?,” alienating every “babe” they try to pick up. Pic relocates duo from NYC to sunny Beverly Hills, where they’re the hapless offspring of a much-lifted glam mom (Loni Anderson, a bit hapless herself here) and a perennially irate dad (Dan Hedaya), at whose fake-flower shop they grudgingly work. (Cocaine refs are out, suggesting that what NBC can get away with in post-primetime broadcast isn’t something parents will overlook at the multiplex.)
What the boys dream about, however, is opening their own club, one modeled on top local discotheque the Roxbury — which they’re too uncool to get into. A car accident with former “21 Jump Street” co-star Richard Grieco (in an expanded cameo as himself) at last provides them with the desired entrance clout. Pair then find themselves embraced by the venue’s owner (an unbilled Chazz Palminteri), as well as pursued by two slinky gold-diggers (Elisa Donovan, Gigi Rice) who mistake them for rich businessmen.
This idyll can’t last, and subsequent fallout finds Steve elbowed by Dad toward wedlock with pushy neighbor Emily (fellow SNL regular Molly Shannon), while Doug pouts on the sidelines. Latter prevents former’s marriage in the nick, however, and circumstance happily finds them co-owners of a spanking new club.
Ferrell and Kattan gamely sustain their one-note characters. Support players (including Lochlyn Munro from “Dead Man on Campus,” Meredith Scott Lynn as Kattan’s love interest and other “SNL” classmates Mark McKinney and Colin Quinn) are given middling material at best.
Uninspired screenplay never lifts this into the high silliness that the “Wayne’s World” movies managed, but overall effect is painless enough. Pacing is tight, and the aptly disco-tawdry saturated colors in lensing and design work are punched up to intended gaudy effect. For the record, director John Fortenberry (“Jury Duty”) replaced original helmer Peter Markle after two weeks’ shooting. Also, the titular club on the Sunset Strip has since gone the way of the Imperial Gardens and the Players Club before it at the same location, and is now a Japanese eatery.