Directed by: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
Starring: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, John C. Reilly, Twink Caplan, Robert Loggia
I am starting this review with what might be termed a spoiler, so read on at your peril. There’s a scene late in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie where Eric (Eric Wareheim) pays a visit to the Shrim Institute in order to benefit from the healing power of “shrim.” It turns out that the therapy involves putting the underwear-clad Wareheim (not a pretty sight in itself) in a bathtub, whereupon four robed boys back up to the tub and release their “shrim” (the “movie’s” quaint term for explosive diarrhea) on him till the tub is filled. As far as I’m concerned the whole movie is “shrim.” The Human Centipede movies look good by comparison.
Now, I know that those who are all hip and “in the know” will say that this is absurdist humor, steeped in irony of the finest kind, that Messrs. Heidecker and Wareheim are so post-modern that they’re post-post-modern—maybe post-post-post-modern—and that this sort of anti-comedy is the ne plus ultra of cutting-edge humor: Comedy with no laughs. I suppose that 40 years ago when John Waters—before he realized that the real path to subversion lay elsewhere—was first perpetrating far cleverer outrages on his own dime and without the help of a posse of celebrity buddies, there was something at least a little bit dangerous about it. But today this is simply infantile, and defending it with a lot of pseudo-intellectual hooey reminds of Edward G. Robinson proving that he’s “crawlin’ with culture” in The Little Giant (1933) by explaining a modern painting to his sidekick—“It’s got dynamic rhythm and tone color, but it ain’t got a nickel’s worth of perspective. Go on, point out some perspective in there—I dare you! You know, that’s the last word in art—pictures without any perspective.”
The idea behind all this is that Tim and Eric are funny because, you see, they aren’t funny. More, they are deliberately trying to not be funny. I will say that in this capacity these boys are certainly geniuses. (I can see that now being used as a breakout quote. Now, that would be funny.) Not once in the entire 93 minutes of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie did anything provoke so much as a chuckle out of me. This doubtless proves that I just don’t “get it.” Maybe I just don’t want it.
The film has a sort of story that involves Tim and Eric squandering a billion dollars on a bad movie that runs about three minutes because they blew the budget on other things. Not unreasonably, the producer, Tommy Schlaang (Robert Loggia, who ought to know better), wants his money back. Their big idea to recoup this money is to rebuild the S’wallow Valley Mall, because an advert by mall owner Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell at his worst) promises whoever can make the mall succeed will make a billion dollars.
Of course, the mall is a disaster. It has shops no one would frequent (like a used toilet paper store), is filled with homeless people, has a moronic slob (John C. Reilly) for a security guard (I guess), and a wolf. It also has a 65-year-old woman (Twink Caplan) for Eric to fall in love with (complete with masturbation gag) and a 10-year-old boy (Noah Spencer) for Tim to become too attracted to. I think I’m meant to be shocked by all this—much like the “shrim” scene. The truth is it tries so hard to shock that it’s just tedious. And, oh, yes, it’s bad. In fact, I’ll be greatly surprised if anything this bad comes along again this year—or any other year, come to that. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, comic violence and drug use.