Of all the Saturday Night Live characters that have made it to the big screen, the Butabi brothers must have seemed the most unlikely. In a typical sketch, the brothers hop from one nightclub to another, bopping their heads to dance-club hits and trying, usually unsuccessfully, to pick up a babe or two. There’s no dialogue, no story, no character details beyond the fact that they like to go clubbing.
In fact, until A Night at the Roxbury brought these guys — played by Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan — to the big screen, no one had any idea that they were even brothers. Ferrell himself admits that the film had to be created pretty much from scratch.
“The sketch is pretty much only on one level,” Ferrell says in a phone interview from Toronto. “It’s kind of this physical cartoon, is the best way to describe it. So we just had this blank page that we had to fill from scratch. We just locked ourselves in a room, and between myself and Chris and Steve Koren, who helped us write the sketch, we improvised a lot of it, like how we thought these guys would talk and sound and react and whether or not they’re just friends or in the same family. We found that having them in the same family helped to set up that loser mid-twentysomething slacker-who-doesn’t-know-what-to-do-with-their-life set-up.”