Directed by: Peter Farrelly and others
Starring: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear
It’s a lucky thing for the hapless — though hardly blameless — stars appearing in the God-awful Movie 43 that crimes against art and humanity aren’t punishable by revocation of your SAG, AFTRA, or Actors’ Equity cards. If that was the case, a lot of people would be out of work or making those indie things that only appear at the lowest end of regional film festivals. That might be extreme punishment. I’m not saying that some manner of price — besides personal embarrassment — shouldn’t be paid, but a few hundred hours of public service would probably suffice. If you make the mistake of wandering into a showing of Movie 43, you may not feel so charitable. I laughed once — and that was at an ad-lib from Johnny Knoxville (ye gods!) in the outtakes at the end. It is my contention that the movie is called Movie 43 for the simple reason that they knew theater owners would balk at putting the far more apt Utter Shit on their marquees. (I will probably sneak the word I’m really thinking of into the online version of this review—and I did.)
Now, understand that I was in no way offended by the movie’s puerile “dirty” jokes, its over-fondness for nearly every bodily excretion known to science (I think they missed earwax) or its nonstop efforts at bad taste. No, what I’m offended by is that all these efforts are aimed at an audience the responsible parties seem to think has the mentality of a hormonal 13-year-old boy who laughs at every “dirty” word as if it qualifies as a joke on its own. I’m also offended by being assaulted by a string of unconnected short films, all of which reveal their one-joke premises in the first minute or two and then beat that joke to death for the next five to seven minutes. I’m offended by the squandering of the array of talent suckered into appearing in this. I’m mostly offended by the fact that the damned thing primarily just bored the living Clapton out of me for 90 minutes — not to mention that I drove into town to subject myself to this wit-free effluvium.
Theoretically, this thing is the work of a dozen directors, nine writers and sixteen producers, co-producers, executive producers, line producers and associate producers. (When your biggest name director is Brett Rattner, you’re already pretty much screwed.) But it mostly apppears to have been the work of Peter Farrelly, who hasn’t made anything remotely worth seeing in 10 years. This does nothing to change that. Somehow he managed to hoodwink, bamboozle and hornswoggle such people as Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Anna Faris (none to choosy anyway), Kieran Culkin, Justin Long, Uma Thurman, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Richard Gere, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry and more into embarrassing themselves.
There’s also a framing story involving a haggard looking Dennis Quaid as a Hollywood writer pitching his movie to producer Greg Kinnear that apparently takes its inspiration from W.C. Fields in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941). Unfortunately, inspiration is all it takes. A great deal of Movie 43‘s footage has, it seems, been lying around for ages — the Jackman-Winslett skit is reportedly five years old — and, unlike wine or cheese, age has not improved it. My guess is that most of the actors — none of whom are promoting this mess — were hoping it would never be released. The best joke is on them — it was released. I’m sure there is some kind of audience for it. It has, after all, garnered two good reviews (out of 37) on Rotten Tomatoes, and some user (who admits to being a Tim and Eric fan) on IMDb has said that it’s, “vile, insane and a good time if your [sic] immature and still find bathroom humor funny.” That may well be true. It doesn’t keep this from being a good candidate for worst movie of 2013. Rated R for strong pervasive crude and sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use.
Playing at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, United Artists Beaucatcher Cinema 7