1/31/2013 - T
here’s nothing less shocking than a movie that’s trying to shock you, as demonstrated by Movie 43, a lazy, hateful anthology of short comedies.
The frayed basket holding this collection of rotten eggs is a movie pitch. A nut-case screenwriter played by Dennis Quaid pitches ideas to studio executive Greg Kinnear, becoming ever more insistent. (While I don’t know that pulling a gun is actually a successful way to get a film greenlit, it would explain how this movie got made.) Each idea is a different short. In one, Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone flirt/insult each other without realizing they’re doing it over a grocery story loud speaker. In a reoccurring segment, we see ads for and later a meeting about the iBabe, a new music player that is a life-sized naked woman. The by-comparison-only funniest short involves Robin (as in “Batman and”) played by Justin Long trying to meet a girl at a speed dating event. That segment also features Kristen Bell, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, John Hodgman and Leslie Bibb.
Which is not a terrible list of actors. Those are people who can be funny, though they mostly aren’t here. The segment more or less peaks with Hodgman’s nicely low rent portrayal of The Penguin.
Also featured somewhere in this mess are: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Jack McBrayer, Aasif Mandvi, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Patrick Warburton, Gerard Butler, Seann Williams Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Banks and Josh Duhamel. There are other big-name actors as well, but I mention these people specifically because they have been in funny or at least entertaining stuff. It is shocking that with so many talented people there is so very little of value here. (Full disclosure: due to some technical difficulties, I didn’t see the first three segments, though I don’t think I was missing much.) Though each segment has its own director, Peter Farrelly seems to be the movie’s overarching creative force. While his comedy can be shrill and unfunny, I have actually enjoyed some of the Farrelly brothers movies. But you will find none of the zany sweetness or gleeful crudeness that is there hallmark here. Instead, everything feels aggressively jokey — wacky site gags, very self-conscious grossness. Nothing that actually caught me by surprise or was truly outrageous in the way that the movie seemed to think it was being — that kind of “look at me with the swear words and the gentalia jokes” attitude being a serious comedy turn-off. Even places where there seemed to maybe be something in the idea — the Robin speed dating sketch, the sports movie parody with Terrence Howard you’ve probably seen in trailers, a moment of extreme awkwardness of Chloe Grace Moretz as a young teenager — nothing smart or original was done with it.
Movie 43 seems to want to shock you with its naughtiness, but the only shock here is how this otherwise talented cast was persuaded to get involved. I dearly want to give this movie an “F” but since I missed its first 10 or 15 minutes, here’s me giving it the benefit of the doubt: D-
Rated R for strong pervasive crude and sexual content including some dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner and Jonathan van Tulleken and written by Steve Baker, Will Carlough, Jacob Fleisher, Patrik Forsberg, Matt Portenoy, Greg Pritikin, Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko and Elizabeth Wright Shapiro, Movie 43 is an hour and 30 minutes long and distributed by Relatively Media.