Review: Movie 43
PLOT: A deranged writer forces a studio executive to listen to a rambling, borderline insane pitch for a movie made up of eleven unrelated stories.
REVIEW: Since the title MOVIE 43 doesn't mean anything (the anthology's mastermind, Peter Farrelly, has admitted this), they might as well have called it CRINGE: THE MOVIE. A collection of nasty shorts that seek to humiliate an A-list cast and scratch beneath the bottom of the barrel of tastelessness, MOVIE 43 is all about cringe-worthy moments, both intentional and unintentional. The intentional ones are thanks to a general belief that there's no such thing as "overdoing it" when it comes to bodily fluids and functions, and the unintentional ones comes courtesy of the many laugh-free moments where you see the performers strain and grasp for humor or imagination in material that simply contains neither.
MOVIE 43 kicks off with a fairly lame premise: a desperate screenwriter (Dennis Quiad) pitches a bizarre idea to a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) that includes the short films within, but there's really no "idea"; it's a sorry excuse of raunchy segments strung together with nothing on their mind other than dick, fart and vagina jokes. Not even kidding; almost every single sketch hinges on the premise that someone being slathered in feces or urine is hiiiilarious. And if that sort of humor works for you, go nuts, because MOVIE 43 will bring your world crumbling down around you with such wondrous sights as testicles hanging from a man's neck or an animated cat masturbating with a hairbrush. 12-year-olds will have a ball.
Some of the shorts have clever - or at least workable - premises, but they don't know what to do with them. One sees Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber as parents who home-school their son and, in an effort to give him a realistic high school experience, expose him to a daily barrage of physical and psychological abuse. Could be entertaining, but ends up disturbing and making you feel a bit unclean. Another takes place during a speed-dating event, where Robin (Justin Long) attempts to be his own man in the face of constant verbal torment from Batman (played as a gigantic douchebag by Jason Sudekis). With appearances from Superman and Wonder Woman, this goes absolutely nowhere the least bit interesting, instead falling back on potty talk to generate laughs. (Cuz wouldn't it be brilliant if Batman rattled on about Supergirl's "bush" a lot?)
Other sketches are just lost causes from the start. The worst of the bunch (aside from the story with Quaid, which we keep cutting back to, like a nightmare you can't escape) is probably Brett Ratner's piece of nonsense about two idiots (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville) who hold a foul-mouthed leprechaun captive in their basement. Ratner thinks having a leprechaun spew profanities is instant-comedy, and the fact that it's played by Gerard Butler (with the aid of some CGI) equally ingenious. He's dead wrong on both counts. One really disgusting short features Chris Pratt and Anna Faris as a couple who prepare for the ultimate display of love, which naturally involves defecation. Faris has gone through some rough material before, having been in four SCARY MOVIE flicks, but this short really proves that we must check and see if everything is alright with the girl. Yet another shameful waste of time revolves around a teenage girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her period and the immature way all of the males handle it. Oh what fun it is to imagine all the different ways to plug that thing up!
The main problem with MOVIE 43, aside from its complete lack of wit and nuance, is overkill. Saying "balls" barely gets a laugh the first time - by the twentieth time, it's well past dead. (And believe me, almost every segment has the word "balls" in it, or some variation.) One gag involving some gross excretion is fine, but when it's over and over again and the screen has been covered in every horrid substance imaginable, you're completely desensitized. You end up thinking to yourself: Did the directors ever talk to each other? Did they know that they were all repeating the same jokes ad nauseam? Did anyone care?
If nothing else, MOVIE 43 works as some sort of bizarre experiment to see which one of its amazing cast can tarnish their image the most. Whether its Halle Berry sticking her breast in guacamole, Chloe Grace Moretz walking around with period stains on her jeans, or Hugh Jackman as the man with balls on his neck, the movie is constantly challenging your perception that surely no one will sink lower than that, but time and time again it brings out another superstar and then allows them embarrass themselves fully and ickily. I'm sure these actors figured making fools of themselves so brazenly would be seen as "edgy," but the whole spectacle is bewildering. The performers try hard, but their enthusiasm is forced, as if they're utterly desperate to elevate the subpar scripts they've been given, like fake-laughing while a friend or relative tells you a really terrible joke.
Tellingly, the only time MOVIE 43 gets laughs is during a handful of fake commercials that pop up intermittently. At 30 seconds, they're not dragged out beyond all reason and pummeled into the ground, their ideas and impacts enhanced by the quickness with which they arrive and exit the screen. The rest of the shorts go on and on, like those unfortunate SNL skits that are stuck toward the end of the show in the hopes that no one will notice them, not willing to concede that a broken joke can't be fixed with repetition. MOVIE 43 is a poo-coated broken joke of a movie.