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Saturday, January 26, 2013

MOVIE 43 (2013)

I have often said there is no greater cinematic failure than an unfunny comedy. Think about it for a minute. Virtually any other movie genre can at least yield unintentional laughs and therefore some semblance of enjoyment, while a comedy that does not succeed at its very reason for existing — specifically to be funny and make its audience laugh — provides the viewer with absolutely fuck all and just lays there on the screen like three-day-old roadkill. The last movie I saw that made me feel like I'd been watching ninety solid minutes of roadkill was the execrable THE LOVE GURU, and now I can say that MOVIE 43 provided much the same experience, only with the level of tastelessness cranked up to 11 (for a mainstream release, that is).

If you know me at all, either in the real world or from reading my blog's ramblings, it's readily apparent that I have nothing whatsoever against bad taste, profanity, general offensiveness, and the aggressively stupid when it comes to humor. Fuck, I positively revel in such stuff! So how could I not be interested in seeing a movie that purportedly harked back to the now lost comedic niche once filled by such films as THE GROOVE TUBE, TUNNELVISION, THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE, and AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON? And the other factors that lured me into seeing MOVIE 43 were that it was not screened for critics — never a good sign — though a handful of critics did see it in advance and spurned it like it was a rabid dog, and when the movie opened, the critics were all over it like ugly on a gorilla, almost universally condemning it. (I saw exactly one positive review.) Being an out loud and proud (though cultured) vulgarian, I opted to ignore the critics and see the film for myself, with my friend Lexi and her high school-age brother, Charlie (whom I proudly consider to be my nephew).

We braved the frigid weather and rendezvoused at Park Slope's infamously irritating Pavilion theater, a cheesy multiplex located across from Prospect Park and staffed with an assortment of ghetto-acting louts. Two of the auditoriums did not have heat (which at least was considerately posted at the box office) and the general interior of the place was rather chilly, but the auditorium for MOVIE 43 at least was warm. Charlie arrived before Lexi and walked in to meet me in the lobby, where he walked past the sleazy ticket-taker, who for all we knew could have been just some lout who'd wandered into the theater from the street. My ticket had been torn when I entered but Charlie had not yet purchased his, so I told him to hit the box office. Hearing that exchange, the dodgy ticket-taker asked if Charlie was with me and when I answered in the affirmative, he told Charlie to just walk in and he would meet us in the theater to get the money. Thinking the film was such a mega-bomb that it didn't matter if Charlie paid or not, I figured the guy was just letting him in because why the fuck not and his comment about the money being a feeble attempt at humor, so we thanked him and went into what was hands down the darkest auditorium I have ever been in. True to his word, the ticket guy followed us upstairs and immediately demanded the full $12.00 ticket price from Charlie. As Charlie fished in his pockets for the cash, I looked at the ticket guy and said "Twelve bucks? Dude, I just paid $8.50 for mine!" He quickly shot back with "Oh, shit! Matinee! I forgot it's the matinee! Just gimme eight bucks. I hate change! Just tryin' ta make some money, man." So the guy was obviously short on cash and decided to deny the place of his employ the price of a movie ticket so he could line his own pockets. When Lexi arrived and took her seat, I looked around and noted that including the three of us, there were exactly ten other people in the whole auditorium. I wonder how many of them also got hit up for cash by the ticket-scamming usher?

In other words, the perfect bit of shabbiness to set the mood for the movie that immediately followed.

Anyway, MOVIE 43 is a series of "shock comedy" shorts, loosely connected by a framing narrative in which a desperate and clearly insane screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) attempts to pitch his screenplay to a Hollywood studio producer (Greg Kinnear). The sketches are meant to be seen as segments from the mad writer's script as read by the writer to the stunned producer, none of which really have anything to do with an over-arcing theme (despite the writer's attempts to convince us otherwise), with each providing a central offensive and/or gross concept upon which the bit hinges. More often than not, once the gag is made clear, that's pretty much it, even if the gag elicits an initial giggle or titter, and one finds themselves counting the time until that bit ends and another begins, with the new bit hopefully being better than what preceded it. Unfortunately, around 98% of the material would not pass muster on even the lamest of sketch shows, so what we have here are bits with varying degrees of unfunniness and no solid gems. At times it felt as though the various talent involved — actors (several of whom are A-listers), writers, directors — figured that touching on taboo subjects, profanity, nudity, and violence would automatically add up to comedy gold, but instead those efforts have spun straw. You may laugh once or twice but for the most part the general reaction as the movie's foul scenarios escalate is a skeeved-out "Oh, god!!!" after which the shock wears off and is swiftly rendered tedious and punchline-free.

Of the material trotted out during the flick's ninety-seven-minute running time, I admit to being entertained by the ongoing escalation of the screenwriter's crazed pitching, a situation that results in gunpoint extortion of a paycheck (and fellatio that happens offscreen) and other insanity before the actual writers simply lose interest and cop out by having the actors (who drop character) and film crew (who are now plainly visible) simply say "Fuck this. Let's just run the last short." As for the shorts themselves, none of the full-length offerings were fully satisfying and several went on too long for no good reason, but the ones that stuck with me for various small reasons include:
  • Kate Winslett's blind date with Hugh Jackman, the "perfect" man who possess a rather jarring physical flaw. The bit has no proper punchline and is abruptly cut off by returning to the appalled producer telling the insane scriptwriter there's no way the studio would go for it.
  • A speed-dating session involving Batman (Jason Sudeikis) dickishly ruining Robin's (Justin Long) chances at romance. I've seen this basic setup done better elsewhere but it gets points here for casting Kristen Bell as Supergirl (sort of).
  • A fantastic "romantic" dialogue exchange between a supermarket worker (Kieran Culkin) and his ex-girlfriend (Emma Stone), both of whom clearly still ache for one another. Unfortunately, the bit has no real punchline. Once the crazy dialogue back-and-forth is done, the sketch might as well be also, but it's not.
  • The sequence where a seventh-grader (Chloe Moretz) has the misfortune of getting her first period while in the presence of her classmate makeout buddy, his asshole older brother (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and the boys' dad (Patrick Warburton). This could have been a genius bit that cleverly played with male cluelessness when sudden menstruation occurs, but once again the film drops the ball, this time ending the bit with a fake commercial.
  • The aforementioned commercial, a fake spot for leak-proof Tampax, is less than a minute in length and is easily the funniest thing in the entire movie.
  • Halle Berry's blind date with a tall, dorky-looking Englishman (Stephen Merchant), which devolves into a truly ridiculous game of "truth or dare" escalation. It's funny up to a point but it goes on too long and, once again, results in a fizzled fart of a so-called punchline.
  • Terrence Howard as a 1950's-era coach to an all-black basketball team, trying his damnedest to get it through his team's heads that they are black and will destroy their all-white opponents simply because "that's how basketball works." A funny idea that actually does have a punchline, but not much of a good one. The denouement was fairly predictable and it went exactly  where I thought it would.
  • A completely gratuitous appearance by FAMILY GUY creator Seth McFarlane, as himself, that serves no purpose whatsoever other than to shoehorn him into the film. He is literally given absolutely nothing to do. There's also a gratuitous shoutout to FAMILY GUY during the Halle Berry sketch that only serves to remind us that there is funnier stuff that we could be watching.
There's a lot of other shit to be had but none of it is funny, and when the credits roll we are "treated" to supposedly-funny outtakes that are not at all amusing, presumably included to pad out the running time. The fact that a film containing so much vulgarity and dumber-than-dirt "guy humor" did not win my favor says a lot, so I simply cannot recommend MOVIE 43, not even when it ends up on cable. It's an almost-total waste of time and I can honestly say I regret not seeing HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS instead, which Lexi wanted to do but I, like an idiot, instead opted for the movie that looked like it would be gone by the end of the week. Now I'm curious to see if it makes it through even a mere seven days. When the inevitable lists of 2013's worst films hits, I guarantee you that MOVIE 43 will be quite deservedly at the head of the pack.

Lastly, the whole experience was quite eloquently summed up by Lexi, who, after we'd all said our goodbyes, texted me with a simple comment: "I want to wash my brain."

Poster from the theatrical release.

Friday, January 25, 2013


NOTE: This review was originally posted at THE VAULT OF BUNCHENESS in August of 2008.

Sweet ass-fucking Jesus... Was this foreseen in the Book of Revelations?

Is child molesting funny? No. Was the Holocaust funny? Nyet. Was chattel slavery a laugh riot? I say thee nay. Is ovarian cancer a gut-buster? Um, nope. To this list of things that are in absolutely no way funny you can now add DISASTER MOVIE, a "comedy" completely and utterly bankrupt of any and all elements that go into what is considered humor. Compared to what DISASTER MOVIE has to offer, the feeblest of "knock knock" jokes looks like BLACKADDER III by comparison.

BLACKADDER III (1987): actual comedy.

No lie, DISASTER MOVIE is a film so awful that while enduring its cornucopia of wretchedness you may find yourself wishing you were stuck in a maximum security prison, sucking the dicks of hulking prisoners named D-Cell and Stab Wound instead.

Brought to us by writer/director team of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, the same creatively bankrupt purveyors of garbage who gave the world the unwanted cinematic landfill that was DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE and MEET THE SPARTANS, this so-called film hinges its avalanche of point-and-click references — they are most certainly not jokes — on the world coming to an end unless the Crystal Skull (yes, that Crystal Skull) is returned to its sacred altar. That’s literally all the explanation we get before we’re off on an endless, numbing parade of sub-'70's era CRACKED MAGAZINE “parodies” of all the recent movie blockbusters and potshots at random pop culture figures, about .02% of which elicited a smile from me, much less an actual laugh. There is no script to speak of, the unfortunate cast instead finding themselves in a celluloid bedlam that reels off like the stream of consciousness ramblings of a Richard Roeper on a heavy dose of some seriously bad Mexican cough syrup chased with a bottle of window cleaner. Among the multitude of films, characters and personalities to receive a nod are:

• JUNO (the mocking of which provided the only moments of genuine humor in the entire movie, which amounted to about forty seconds of material out of a total of ninety minutes)
• 10, 000 BC
• SUPERBAD (a year late)
• YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (an admittedly stupid/silly comedy that was 500,000 times better than DISASTER MOVIE)
• ARMAGEDDON (a film that while terrible is nowhere near the same galaxy of awfulness as DISASTER MOVIE)
• Amy Winehouse as a sabretoothed tiger (don't ask)
• SEX & THE CITY (with Sarah Jessica Parker played by a man; sadly, that gag kind of worked)
• Flavor Flav, nude, Viking-helmeted and with that big-assed clock obscuring his junk (thank the gods)
• TWISTER (at least a decade too late for anyone to care)
• STEP UP (1 and 2)
• ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS (doing death metal, which was almost funny in concept)
• BATMAN (in general, not even specifically THE DARK KNIGHT)

Each and every one of those were clearly identifiable to anyone who hadn’t been an expatriate on the planet Mongo for the past twenty years, but rather than have faith in the fact that the audience knows what they obviously came and paid actual money to see, the filmmakers — bile churns within me as I use that word to describe those no-talent ass-clowns — feel the need to have the protagonists explain the alleged gags for the moviegoers, thus proving that they have no respect whatsoever for the viewer’s intelligence. For example: when the Flavor Flav impersonator pops into frame and lets loose with the expected “Yeah, boyeeeeee!” coonery, the protagonist exclaims, “Flavor Flav?” Another case in point: during the 10,000 B.C. segment, an Amy Winehouse lookalike (with sabretooth tiger fangs, remember) is greeted by the protagonist (in caveman drag) with, “Amy Winehouse?” If you think that’s both feeble and annoying, try sitting through ninety minutes in which about 99% of the visual references are verbally spelled out to you like you were as dumb as a burlap sack full of doorknobs. Compound that with the now-ubiquitous and nigh-incalculable uselessness of Carmen Electra and you have a cinematic attempt at comedy that’s about as funny as the rape of the Sabines, medieval torture upon pregnant “witches,” the Tuskegee Experiment, the My Lai massacre, and the entire run of ACCORDING TO JIM all rolled up into a humor-leeching black hole of Stygian suckhood. Yet people keep flocking to this team’s tripe with every new release and the films make money because they’re so fucking cheap to make that they recoup their costs within maybe two weeks through domestic ticket sales. I have no idea how these films do overseas but any money raked in from foreign countries is strictly gravy. So as long as the American public keeps on shelling out cash to see this shit, the colossal anus of the Friedman-Seltzer monster will just continue to defecate onto movie screens in multiplexes across this fair nation.

As I write this there are 137 user comments relating to DISASTER MOVIE on the IMDB (to which I will shortly add my own) and I believe it may be the only film on Rotten Tomatoes to score a 00% rating, a perfect storm of utter worthlessness. The horrendous MEET THE SPARTANS and EPIC MOVIE both garnered a 2% rating, while DATE MOVIE got 6%, so if you’ve seen any of those flicks you know just how wretched they are. Think about just how much it takes to earn a rating of 00%. That’s motherfucking ZERO PERCENT! Even GIGLI managed a six, for fuck’s sake!

TRUST YER BUNCHE and avoid DISASTER MOVIE at all costs, unless, like me, you just cannot help yourself and you absolutely have to see for yourself what is a strong contender for the title of WORST MOVIE EVER MADE. Those smug bastards who award that honor to Ed Wood’s far, far superior and immeasurably more entertaining PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE —a film released almost fifty years ago for about as much money as one would spend on an egg roll and some chicken fried rice — really need to shut the fuck up and try sitting through the cinematic Chernobyl of DISASTER MOVIE. Then we’ll see who’s laughing.

Oh, and for the record, I did not pay one cent to see this film. Let’s just say I have connections and leave it at that.


NOTE: This review was originally posted at THE VAULT OF BUNCHENESS in August of 2006.

When it comes to bad movies there is no greater tragedy than an unfunny comedy. A film in virtually any other genre can fail in its attempt at what it sets out to present and still in some small sense provide the viewer with entertainment by being so bad that it’s hilarious, some notable examples being EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, DEATH WISH 3, KUNG FU FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE, AT LONG LAST LOVE, and the incredibly entertaining ROAD HOUSE. But when you suffer through a bad comedy. there is nothing to be had at all. The whole endeavor just sits there, inert like a festering corpse, and you can’t help but feel bad for everyone involved in the production. Such a film is the execrable DATE MOVIE, a literal textbook example of how NOT to make a comedy film. In fact, the film is so utterly diametrically opposed to the very nature of what is funny, it can best be described as the humor equivalent of Chernobyl, Auschwitz, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Mi Lai massacre, and 9/11 rolled into one great big hunk of hellaciousness.

Stylistically owing everything to the already feeble school of reference-without-a-joke filmmaking popularized by the SCARY MOVIE franchise — which attempts to ape the vastly superior AIRPLANE! and doesn’t even enter the same universe of quality — DATE MOVIE is a would-be pastiche of all those vomitous flicks that guys get dragged to and squrimingly sit through in hopes of getting some pussy after the movie lets out, such as BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY, HITCH, MEET THE PARENTS/FOKKERS, THE WEDDING PLANNER, MY BIG, FAT GREEK WEDDING and innumerable other testosterone-leechers, only it also veers into “parody” territory utilizing films and other media offerings that have nothing to do with its intended target genre. NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH, the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, and even PIMP MY RIDE, each hauled out to make the viewer with a fifteen-second attention span say, “Hey! That’s from NAPOLEON DYNAMITE!” or whatever random thing caught the screenwriter’s fancy at that particular moment. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but mere visual recognition is not a gag.

The plot — such as it is — tells the story of a fat chick who seeks true love, gets a makeover and lyposuction, finds the guy of her dreams and then endures every possible romantic comedy clich√© that you can think of until the film finally grinds to a halt. No surprises whatsoever there, but the true horror of this film is that it is simply so anti-funny that it becomes a thing of diabolical, even perverse, fascination. (Another perfect example of a film transcending its own horribleness is the nigh-unwatchable endurance test that is CURSE OF BIGFOOT, but that’s another story for another post…)

The cast, led by the adorable and hot Alyson Hannigan (Willow from TV’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER), are all quite game and try very hard to make the script into something even remotely fun, but let’s face it: you just cannot polish a turd. The jokes not only fall painfully flat, but the filmmakers apparently thought that if they stretched out any given gag to an intolerable length then the joke would render itself that much more side-splitting, a theory that might hold water if the bits in question worked at all, but such is not the case here. Once a joke falls flat, the same bit is suddenly driven home again, then there may be a brief pause for effect, as if to say, “Get it?” And then, just when you think they’re ready to move on to the next train wreck of non-hilarity they smack you right in the teeth with the same bullshit joke. Yet again!!! However, the one time where this strategy did work was a bit that played off of the sequence in MEET THE PARENTS with the toilet-trained cat; in DATE MOVIE the cat is played by a truly hilariously tatty puppet, and it takes the longest, loudest and downright foulest shit that I’ve ever seen outside of a German porno, the difference being that here it was fucking hilarious. The visual/aural is funny enough to begin with, but when stretched to such a preposterous length — nearly three minutes of a cat thrashing, shrieking and flatulating while perched on a toilet seat — the gag becomes a triumph of bad taste that had me crying for the next five minutes.

The “friend” who made me sit through DATE MOVIE insisted that I watch it so I could see just how unfunny a film could be, and as I watched the film my jaw hung open in unfeigned disbelief as each humor-void segment kept getting outdone by the scenes that relentlessly unspooled, utterly succumbing to the hypnosis of its wretchedness.

Yes, I had fallen under the insidious spell of DATE MOVIE, a foul glamour that sparked the analysis-bug in my already obsessive psyche, and I have since sat through the unrated DVD a total of two more times, once to hear the cast’s commentary and once more to hear the brilliant “anti-commentary” of two professional film critics. Not that I needed anyone to break down for me just why the damned thing sucks. It’s just a sign of resignation to reality that the filmmakers have accepted the fact that DATE MOVIE sucks big, veiny moose nards and have enough of a sense of humor to roll with it. Too bad that sense of humor is rarely in evidence during the running time of the flick. Speaking of which, the movie is as short as it can be and yet officially qualify as a feature-length movie; the fucker is barely seventy-eight minutes and they stretch out the end credits for almost ten minutes.

Bottom line: DATE MOVIE is really, REALLY bad, but I strongly urge you stare into the maddening abyss that it is and use it as an object lesson on all that can go wrong with a comedy, even when supported by a strong cast and a major studio having your back. TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!