Movie 43

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 01/25/13 19:44:13

"Not So Much "Funny Or Die" As It Is DOA"
1 stars (Sucks)

If you want a surefire method of gauging the general age of your favorite movie critic, all you need to do is read their review of the bizarre new sketch comedy extravaganza "Movie 43." If he or she is on the younger side, they will no doubt compare it to the skits that can now be found regularly online on sites like "Funny Or Die" while the older ones will no doubt use films like "Kentucky Fried Movie" or its semi-sequel "Amazon Women on the Moon" as their point of reference. (By cleverly citing both, I have now muddied the waters to the point where you will never know my age. Mwah-ha-ha!) Oddly enough, if you want a surefire method of gauging whether your favorite movie critic is competent or not, reading their "Movie 43" review will also do the trick. If they consider it to be "fresh" or "hilarious" or any of those other words that often turn up in TV ads, often attributed to people that you have never heard of before, then immediately put the review down, back away slowly and never expose yourself to their critiques again. On the other hand, if they describe it as a gross, infantile and absolutely bewildering waste of time and talent, you can continue to read their work comfortable in the knowledge that they indeed know what they are talking about. And just so that they waters are crystal-clear in this regard, let me now state for the record that "Movie 43" is indeed a confounding crapfest that squanders a cast of stars that would put most award shows to shame on material that would be rightfully rejected from most third-grade recess periods for lacking the requisite wit and dignity.

The film is a collection of skits that are presented as the increasingly deranged movie pitches that a deranged filmmaker (Dennis Quaid) delivers to an increasingly mortified studio executive (Greg Kinnear). Things kick off with a woman (Kate Winslet) going off on a blind date with a seemingly perfect guy (Hugh Jackman), only to discover that he does have one rather large and noticeable flaw dangling from his neck--the kind that ensures all by itself that the segment will never appear on commercial television in its current form. Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are a couple whose home-schooling plan for their teen son includes a healthy dose of all the cruel torments of adolescence. Chris Pratt plays a guy who goes to extremes in order to satisfy the peculiar sexual request of girlfriend Anna Faris. Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone play a onetime couple whose post-breakup anguish is played out before an entire supermarket via the intercom. Next up is a superhero spoof in which Robin (Justin Long) finds his evening of speed dating--including the likes of Supergirl (Kristin Bell) and Lois Lane (Uma Thurman)--is interrupted by the diabolical machinations of the Penguin (John Hodgman) and the jerky intrusions of the Caped Crusader (Jason Sudekis).

Richard Gere turns up as a Steve Jobs-like mogul whose latest product--an MP3 player designed to look like a life-size naked woman called the iBabe--is injuring young male users due to the inclusion of an unfortunately placed cooling fan. Chloe Grace Mortiz is a young girl whose introduction into the miracle of womanhood unfortunately arrives when she is surrounded by a bunch of clueless guys. Johnny Knoxville presents best pal Sean William Scott with an unusual birthday gift--a violent and foul-mouthed leprechaun (Gerard Butler) who will not give up his pot of gold without a fight. Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant are a couple on a blind date whose icebreaking game of Truth Or Dare escalates wildly. In a spoof of inspirational sports movies, Terrence Howard plays the coach of an all-black basketball team who inspires his team to triumph over their all-white adversaries by reminding them of their unique advantage. One final bit comes up in the middle of the end credits in which Elizabeth Banks find her relationship with new boyfriend Josh Duhamel being challenged by his pet, an animated cat with a strange erotic fixation of its owner. If that isn't enough--and trust me, it is--there are also a couple of fake commercials on display as well, including a PSA revealing the hidden truth behind the most abused office machines and one for a product that I will not reveal lest I kill one of the few mildly amusing jokes on display.

Although sketch comedy has been done with great success over the years on television, it has rarely found much favor on the big screen--even a group of comedic minds as formidable as Monty Python struggled to overcome its limitations with their all-over-the-map 1983 swan song "The Meaning of Life."--and "Movie 43" does little to elevate the reputation of the format. Considering that it comes from 10 different directors (the most famous of the bunch being Peter Farrelly and Brett Ratner) and a small army of writers, the results might have come across as scattershot under the best of circumstances but the film manages to maintain a relatively consistent tone throughout in the sense that none of the sketches are very funny (unless the depiction of unsavory bodily functions is your particular thing) save for the fake ads, which are brief enough so that they don't have a chance to wear out their welcome.
Some, like the bits involving the iBabe, the superheroes and the girl having her first menstrual period, have potentially promising ideas that fall apart due to lackluster writing. Others, like the Winslet-Jackman and Faris-Pratt pairings, are just gross sight gags stretched beyond the point of all endurance. Finally, there are bits like the Culkin-Stone matchup, the thing involving the cartoon cat and the entire framing device that are so utterly bewildering that they defy all rational explanation. I can only assume that the filmmakers assumed that the sight of seeing normally serious actors like Richard Gere and Kate Winslet performing material that would raise the eyebrows of the Adam Sandler crowd would be funny in and of itself but all it does is inspire thoughts that a behind-the-scenes documentary showing how all the performers managed to get lured into this project would be both far more interesting than the film itself and infinitely funnier to boot.

Unless watching big-name celebrities mortally embarrassing themselves on the big screen is your thing and there are no revivals of "The Cannonball Run II" in your area anytime soon, "Movie 43" is pretty much a complete disaster from start to finish--it isn't funny, it isn't daring and it isn't even especially creative in its disgustingness. Indeed, the most amusing thing about it is that this is a film that has been in production for several years, in order to work around the busy schedules of the actors, and at no point during that time did anyone involved with its production apparently voice any misgivings about the painfully low quality of the material and if they did, no one apparently listened to them. I suppose that the fact that a film such as this actually exists and is actually playing in theaters is mildly intriguing, especially considering the fact that I would be willing to bet that many of the cast members might have cheerfully contributed to a fund dedicated to forever preventing it from ever seeing the light of day. Beyond that, "Movie 43" is such a scandalous waste of time for everyone involved, including those foolhardy few who actually pay to go to see it during its certainly brief run, that it makes "Burn Hollywood Burn: An Alan Smithee Film" seem like a sensible allocation of assets by comparison.

Author's Note: As some of you may or may not have heard, I have been tapped to contribute the occasional review to Roger Ebert's website,, for the next few weeks while he undergoes physical therapy for a hip injury. Needless to say, this is a great honor, if somewhat inexplicable, and I hope that I can at least come reasonably close to matching the high standards that he has set for the world of film criticism over the years. I will still be contributing things here during that time as well. Thanks much.

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