Choosing to review Movie 43 was a mistake. This movie doesn't want or deserve to be held up to any level of reproach or scrutiny. It made me sick to my stomach and it profoundly wasted my time, and that made me feel helpless and mad. Promotion for Movie 43 says that it's "not for the easily offended," which is kind of a jerk thing to say, because it puts the onus on us, like if we don't laugh, it's just because we're being uptight or too PC or something. It's my job to sit there and endure the movie so that I can come back and warn you about it, and still, even then, I almost got up and left the theater. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that this really is one of the worst films I've ever seen.
The premise is as follows: Take a bunch of A-list celebrities and put them in a lowbrow, gross-out comedy. Shoot the film in a series of vignettes, with different directors, over a four-year period. Don't tell the right hand what the left hand is doing. I could tell by the trailer that the film was probably bad, but I was intrigued by the structure and hoped it might be some other way. I was remembering other films that are collections of shorts, like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone Movie or Four Rooms. And Kate Winslet wouldn't let me down, would she? Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber are some of the best actors we have, surely they know how to read a script?
That line of reasoning is wrong. Never think that a movie is going to be good just because it has good actors in it or is directed by people like Peter Farrelly and Bob Odenkirk. Who knows why people in Hollywood agree to do things. They're not like us.
Movie 43 is held together by a reoccurring segment called "The Pitch," starring Dennis Quaid as a desperate screenwriter, trying to sell one revolting, unfunny idea after another to a Hollywood executive, played by Greg Kinnear. Quaid pitches him a joke, which we are then forced to watch in horror as it comes to life.
Examples of these jokes include, but are not limited to: "What if we kidnapped a leprechaun and then beat him up and stole all of his gold?" "What if Anna Faris wanted to be pooped on?" "Black people are way better at basketball than white people." "Hugh Jackman with balls on his neck." "What if a girl got her period?" And so on.
The movie is unabashedly stupid and then half-heartedly self-referential. It thinks that if it looks at the screen and tells you it knows it's a dumb, thoughtless, ugly movie that somehow knowing that gets it off the hook. If 12-year-old boys wrote the script, it would still be pretty bad, but at least then it would make sense. As is, the only way to enjoy this movie is to turn off large sections of your brain—and pardon me for enjoying my humanity, but I'd rather not have to do that.
Admittedly, I'm not the target market for this kind of stuff under the best of circumstances. There's that other Farrelly brothers movie called There's Something About Mary where Cameron Diaz unwittingly uses semen as hair gel. The truth is, I've never thought that was funny. Sue me. But at least in that situation the story took the time to set up the gag with meaningful characters and nuance. Movie 43 doesn't care about you. It's like a cancer, and the only way to beat cancer in this instance is to walk away and pretend like it never happened.
Movie 43 continues at the Village 6.