Saturday, March 2, 2013

Movie 43

I love a good anthology sketch comedy flick. The Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon are two of my favorite films of all time and it’s a shame that movies like that aren’t made more often (even in the horror genre). When I heard that a sketch comedy movie was being made for release in early 2013 I became pretty excited about it. The fact that it was to feature a veritable who’s who of Hollywood stars was just the icing on the cake. Another plus was that each sketch was to be directed by a well-known filmmaker (Griffin Dunne, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Rusty Cundieff, James Gunn, Brett Ratner, Steven Brill, Steve Carr).  The red band trailer I saw was pretty hilarious and I couldn’t wait for the film to be released. Ladies and gentlemen… I give you Movie 43.
- There is a wraparound story, called “The Pitch”, where a nutty screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) attempts to pitch a number of script ideas to a Hollywood producer (Greg Kinnear). These ideas are the sketches that make up the movie.
- The first sketch is “The Catch”, where Beth (Kate Winslet) goes out on a blind date with rich bachelor Davis (Hugh Jackman). She is shocked to find out that he has a set of testicles hanging from his neck, but she’s the only person who seems to notice them.
- Second is “Homeschooled”, in which a couple (Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber) discusses the homeschooling techniques they use for their teenage son with their new neighbors, which includes hazing, humiliation, first kisses and cruel detentions.
- Third is “The Proposition”, where Jason (Chris Pratt) discovers that his girlfriend Vanessa (Anna Faris) wants him to defecate on her.
- “Veronica” features Kieran Culkin as a night shift employee of a grocery store who has a run in with his ex (Emma Stone) that leads to them having a seriously demented argument about their past relationship which unbeknownst to them is being broadcast throughout the store.
- “iBabe” introduces an MP3 player in the shape of a full size nude woman, and the creators of the device (Richard Gere, Jack McBrayer, Kate Bosworth and Aasif Mandvi) have a hard time figuring out how a cooling fan placed in the groin region consistently mangles the penises of teenagers across the globe.
- “Superhero Speed Dating” finds Robin (Justin Long) attempting to participate in an evening of speed dating only to be constantly interrupted by fellow comic book characters, such as Lois Lane (Uma Thurman), Batman (Jason Sudeikis), Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb), The Penguin (John Hodgman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell).
- “Machine Kids” is a commercial spoof which shows that all mechanized devices are really run by a gaggle of kids locked inside them.
- “Middleschool Date” involves a young girl (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) having her first period while at her boyfriend’s (Jimmy Bennett) house, and along with his brother (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) try to figure out a way to stop her from bleeding to death.
- “Tampax” is a short commercial parody of tampon commercials.
- “Happy Birthday” stars Johnny Knoxville as a guy who kidnaps a foul mouthed leprechaun (Gerard Butler) so he can gift his pot of gold to his roommate (Seann William Scott) in order to make up for sleeping with his girlfriend.
- “Truth or Dare” follows a couple out on their first date (Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant), and to keep things fresh they play Truth or Dare while at a restaurant. Their dares get more and more out of control as the date goes on.
- “Victory’s Glory” is about a high school basketball team comprised of all African Americans in the 50s whose coach (Terrence Howard) attempts to convince his players that their “blackness” is all they need to defeat the all-white team they are playing against.
- Finally there is “Beezel”, which stars Elizabeth Banks as a woman becoming increasingly frustrated by her boyfriend’s (Josh Duhamel) attachment to his animated cat companion who hates her with a passion.

There are a lot of sketches in this film, but none last more than 5 minutes, some less than 30 seconds. The big question is… are they funny? Some are and some aren’t. The problem is that each and every one of them aims straight for the toilet. While I do find that sort of thing funny when done right (Kingpin), I thought that there would be a little more variety mixed in. Instead we have vagina blood being smeared all over a wall, masturbating cartoons, jokes about Supergirl’s bush, racist makeovers, talk of foot and a half long dicks, shit being sprayed across a car, a mother making out with her own son and people eating pubic hair soup. I did find some of these ideas humorous, sometimes even hilarious, but when you’re constantly being bombarded by non-stop vulgarity it can get a little tiresome. Sadly some of the humor of Movie 43 wore itself thin pretty quickly.
Of all the sketches I found “The Catch” the funniest not because of the subject material, but because of who starred in it. I have never seen either Kate Winslet or Hugh Jackman in anything quite like this before, and the fact that they are hardly known for comedy made this even funnier than it ever could have hoped to be. Both stars looked like they were having a blast and it was quite infectious.

Another standout was “Veronica” due to the enthusiastic performances of Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone. They pretty much do nothing but spit venom at each other for 4 minutes, but the lines they are given are actually pretty funny (“What about that time you sucked off that hobo for magic beans?” – “He was a WIZARD!”) and the payoff is worth it.

“The Proposition” is one of the most disgusting of the bunch, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t laugh at the lengths Chris Pratt’s character went through to make sure his girl’s wish of being pooped on was all she ever dreamed of.
“Superhero Speed Dating” and “Victory’s Glory” would have been funnier if all the good lines weren’t ruined in the trailers. In “Superhero Speed Dating’s” case all the good lines were shown in the trailer but left on the cutting room floor for the actual feature.

“Happy Birthday” is funny due to the extremes it goes to, but all it really boils down to is that it stars a Leprechaun with a fondness for four letter words.

All the others (“The Pitch”, “Homeschooled”, “iBabe”, “Machine Kids”, “Middleschool Date”, “Tampax”, “Truth or Dare” and “Beezel”) are pretty lame or are just crass for the sake of being crass. “Tampax” and “Machine Kids” (the tamest of them all) are both one joke sketches, and the rest all rely on the fact that they feature one or more major stars doing effed up stuff for a few minutes. The sad part is that they could have been a lot funnier with a little extra effort.
Add everything up and you have a pretty uneven comedy. There are highs (“The Catch”) and lows (“Homeschooled”) and everything in between. For the most part I’d say it’s worth watching at least once. Comedy is subjective for everyone. What I may find hysterical another might find to be offensive or unfunny. Whatever the case may be I found this to be a mixed bag. But give it a watch and find out just how far your internal good taste meter will stretch before it gives you whiplash.

2.5 out of 5

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