Why Do People Think Shakespeare Is Boring?
tvtv3 | Sorento, IL United States | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As director Billy Morrissette points out in a preview accompanying the movie, SCOTLAND, PA is Macbeth but for high school students who struggle with Shakespeare, who are stoned, or both.
Shakespeare's tale of the Scottish warrior turned king is moved from medieval Scotland to 1970s America. Norm Duncan (James Reborn) owns a popular local diner named Duncan's. He's a respective businessman in the small town of Scotland, PA and his hardest-working employee is Joe "Mac" McBeth (James LeGros). Mac's best friend, Anthony "Banko" Banconi (Kevin Corrigan) gives Mac some inside information about some embezzling that the manager, Douglas McKenna (Josh Pais), is involved in. Mac and his wife, Pat (Maura Tierney), Doug in the act, inform Duncan, and watch as he's fired and thrown out of the restaurant. Mac thinks it's his big break, but Duncan only promotes him to Assistant Manager. Tired of being an "underachiever trying to make up for lost time", Pat convinces Mac to take drastic action. She wants Mac to kill Duncan, but he can't bring himself to kill the man. But gravity takes over and Mac doesn't have to. Thus begins a rise to power for the McBeths who watch over as the business blossoms. Duncans becomes McBeth's, a fast food restaurant complete with the first drive-thru window in town and a French fry truck that drives around town delivering free French fries. But something's rotten in the town of Scotland and a big shot police detective named McDuff (Christopher Walken) is assigned to investigate Duncan's murder. As McDuff unravels what has happened, the McBeth's struggle to hold on to the happy life they have now acquired, no matter what the cost.
The movie does an excellent job at updating the story of Macbeth for modern audiences. The film does skip some of the psychological buildup of Act IV of the play and the ending seems a bit rushed (that's partially because of finances and time issues with the filmmakers). Nevertheless, the heart of the story remains intact. Also, unlike the play (which except for witches farting and the Porter, has very little comic relief) the movie is very funny. It's a dark tragic-comedy. I was an English major and I teach English and I love the movie. However, I know that there are some diehard Shakespeare buffs who are upset that the film cuts so much out from the original play. I don't have an issue with it because the movie stays true to the spirit of the original play.
Overall, a highly entertaining and imaginative update of Macbeth that any Shakespeare fan or movie buff should see at least once. Also recommended for reluctant high school students and stoners."