Rodney Dangerfield’s new film “The 4th Tenor” was released straight-to-video. It should have gone straight-to-the-garbage-can.
The 81-year-old Dangerfield plays Lupo, the owner of a swank New York restaurant who falls in love with the alluring young star of his establishment’s cabaret stage. And by young I mean young enough to be Lupo’s granddaughter. This sweetie spurns Lupo’s love and insists she can only give her heart to a man with an operatic voice. Lupo decides to become an opera singer, but gets swindled in Italy by a con artist voice teacher. After a disastrous debut in an Italian opera house, Lupo finds refuge at a farm that grows magical grapes which, when stomped into wine, gives the gift of song to those who taste its power. Lupo not only finds his Pavarotti-worthy vocal chords, but also attracts the attention of the farmer’s daughter (who is also young enough to be his granddaughter).
For anyone who’s laughed themselves into near-incontinence with Dangerfield’s rat-a-tat-tat wisecracking in “Caddyshack” or “Back to School,” the sight of the elderly comic in “The 4th Tenor” will be very depressing. Visibly frail despite a Halloween party’s worth of make-up, Dangerfield lacks the energy to get the lamest joke across and much of the time he literally stands around silently popping his eyes while his supporting cast tries to keep this tired film afloat with some damn bad jokes and phony Italian dialect humor. You know something is terribly wrong when a talking parrot and a bulldog carrying a backpack in his jaws can get more laughs than Dangerfield.
“The 4th Tenor” is the saddest comedy to show up in the longest time, and with its utter lack of entertainment value it would seem it is the audience, not the star, who “gets no respect.”