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It’s easy to imagine Scotland, PA. germinating from just one phrase: “Out, damned spot!” Yes, that’s Macbeth, and so is actor-
turned-writer-director Billy Morrissette’s debut feature, which transplants the Scottish Play to a small-town fast-food restaurant in the ’70s. (The decade is more important than the location, even if it’s the latter that gets title billing.) The spot is an unhealing burn on the hand of Pat McBeth (Maura Tierney), acquired during the lurid fry-maker killing of Norm Duncan (James Rebhorn), the eatery’s exacting owner. Duncan is whacked by Joe “Mac” McBeth (James LeGros), Pat’s malleable husband, whom Pat spurs into action after Duncan doesn’t give him sufficient credit for an idea that wasn’t exactly revolutionary in the ’70s: using an intercom to take drive-through orders. With their father dead, Duncan’s two stereotypical sons—one an aspiring hard-rocker, the other a gay show-tunes fan—sell their father’s kingdom to the McBeths. The couple remake the place, complete with blood-red arches, and become rich. Yet they worry that their pal Anthony “Banco” Banconi (Kevin Corrigan) will betray them, or that police detective Ernie McDuff (Christopher Walken), a health-food enthusiast, will uncover the crime. The movie is essentially a skit, with mostly broad comic performances by a crew of TV and indie-film veterans (including Amy Smart, Andy Dick, and Timothy “Speed” Levitch as the three hippie witches Mac encounters at a tawdry fun-fair). Morrissette cleverly transfers Macbeth’s plot to his chosen milieu, but the narrative parallels don’t cut deep. Instead, the movie goes for easy, thematically disengaged laughs, from the McDonald’s references and shag haircuts to a score that reprises every well-known tune Bad Company ever recorded. The acting style is similarly jumbled: Whereas Tierney plays her Lady McBeth almost straight, Walken telegraphs his superiority to the material with every self-conscious twitch. Still, better a shallow spoof than more earnest teen-flick Shakespeare along the lines of O. Scotland, PA. has nothing meaty to say about fast food, hard rock, or the human condition, but it’s an amusing MacNugget nonetheless. —Mark Jenkins