The Raunchy Comedy Hidden Gem On Streaming Features The Best Actors In The Genre

By Robert Scucci | Published

dirty work

The world is certainly a darker place ever since Norm Macdonald and Bob Saget passed away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate their legacy by watching 1998’s Dirty Work on Tubi the first chance we get. Marking Macdonald’s first starring feature-film role and Saget’s directorial debut, this slap-stick buddy comedy features so many familiar faces that it’s basically a ’90s sketch-comedy time capsule. Not only does Mad TV alum Artie Lange take on the perfect supporting role, we bear witness to cameos from Adam Sandler, John Goodman, Chris Farley, Don Rickles, and even Gary Coleman, to name a few.

The Story Of Dirty Work

dirty work

Dirty Work focuses its attention on Mitch Weaver (Norm Macdonald) and Sam McKenna (Artie Lange), two childhood friends who are now underachieving adults. When Mitch gets fired from his 14th job and dumped by his girlfriend, he moves in with Sam and his father, Pops (Jack Warden). When Pops suffers from a heart attack, he reveals to Mitch that he is also his father, but urges him to keep this secret from Sam.

Pops is put on a long wait-list for a heart transplant due to his age, but the gambling-addicted Dr. Farthing (Chevy Chase) is willing to push him to the front of the list if Mitch and Sam can raise $50,000 to pay off his debts. Mitch has an epiphany when he and Sam take payment from their coworkers at their short-lived movie theater job to humiliate their abusive boss. Thus, Dirty Work shows its namesake when the two brothers form the titular revenge-for-hire business that will help them raise the funds they need for the transplant.

Revenge Artists

dirty work

Once the main story is established, Dirty Work wastes no time showing us just how maniacal Mitch can be if the money is right. Mitch and Sam mostly use their mischievous machinations for good, but they quickly learn that dumping popcorn kernels into car radiators and hiding rotten fish corpses inside the walls of drug-dealer mansions aren’t generating the income they need to earn in a short amount of time. When offered $50,000 to condemn an old apartment building under the guidance of a local real estate magnate named Travis Cole (Christopher McDonald), Mitch and Sam plan to win big and save Pops from his deathbed.

A Comedy For Comedians

Dirty Work is one of those movies that was made by comedians for comedians. The best way to describe it is Macdonald and Bob Saget getting their first shot at filmmaking in the form of a $13 million budget, and deciding to cast their friends for the sole purpose of having fun. Though the humor is sophomoric and juvenile, it’s safe to say that this was the intention from the get-go.

Critics Weren’t Impressed By The Jobs Performed In Dirty Work

Despite the amount of talent found in Dirty Work, critics ripped it to shreds by giving it a 14 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes. But like most raunchy comedies, audiences gave it much more favorable score of 66 percent.

Macdonald Vs. Ohlmeyer

Commercially speaking, Dirty Work was a total flop that only earned $10 million against its production budget. The film’s failure at the box office has since been attributed to an ongoing feud between Norm Macdonald and Don Ohlmeyer around the same time Dirty Work was released. Macdonald was fired from Saturday Night Live for making a number of jokes at the expense of OJ Simpson, one of Ohlmeyer’s good friends.

As a direct result of the feud, Ohlmeyer, who was an NBC executive at the time, wouldn’t allow the network to air promotional material ahead of Dirty Work’s release.

Dirty Work never really had a chance to reach its target audience at the time of its release, but has since garnered a cult following. Since we now live in the streaming era, you can always watch Dirty Work on Tubi.