Monday, February 11, 2013

The Cinema File #110: "Movie 43" Review

Okay, this is probably going to be another review where my current (and currently failing) attempts at being a professional screenwriter have left me a bit biased as to the subject under discussion, so keep that in mind as I talk about what I thought of Movie 43. I'm currently writing a sketch comedy film with my friend Nate Zoebl, mostly culled from sketches he and I wrote and produced for a local comedy show a few years back, interconnected by a loose Mr. Show style framework bridging from one sketch to the next. Much like the last time this particular bias presented itself, I'm not sure if Movie 43 being this terrible is actually a benefit to our script, or a detriment, but in either case, it certainly is terrible.

Movie 43 is set up as the sketch comedy equivalent of the recent and surprisingly good VHS, an anthology where different creative teams are given the reins to build a movie piecemeal, in this case, one that's supposed to be consistently funny. Normally with any sort of anthology, including the aforementioned VHS, the results are a bit hit and miss, and the entire film should only fairly be judged not for the quality of an individual part, but rather on how much of it landed, versus how much of it fell flat. In the case of Movie 43, despite a trailer that suggested to me quite a few funny installments, I can't honestly think of one that didn't in some way disappoint me.

Its not that its completely unfunny, as most of the individual premises are solid and there are a few genuinely amusing moments within some of them, but with the possible exception of the Liev Schreiber Home School sketch from the trailers, they're all hinging essentially on one joke repeated over and over again until you couldn't possibly find it funny anymore, if you ever did in the first place. A girl wants her man to poop on her, a man has balls on his chin, a girl gets her period and people around her overreact. I didn't just describe the set up of three sketches just then, I literally described everything you're supposed to find funny about them. Excited yet?

Even the ones that do have a bit more going for them still fail to keep my interest. The Home School sketch and the Truth or Dare sketch featuring Haley Berry doing increasingly bizarre stunts start out well enough, but just peter out with no care taken to sustaining the humor throughout the entire scene. Happy Birthday, a sketch starring Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as two idiots who abduct a Leprechaun seemed to have a lot of potential, enough that I could see this idea expanded into an entire movie, or at least a Dude Where's My Car sequel, but instead it just devolves into Gerard Butler cursing in a helium voice. And without going into too much detail, let me just state for the record that the Superhero Speed Dating segment might just be the death of comedy itself.

Movie 43 has been universally panned by critics, and pretty much everyone else I know who has seen it has expressed some level of intense dislike for it. As much as I sometimes delight in being the contrary voice, finding a perspective on things that the herd has missed, allow me to conform to the consensus here. This movie is quite possibly the worst theatrically released film since last year's The Odd Life Of Timothy Green, and while it obviously sucks in an entirely different way, that in no way diminishes the awesome, undeniable power of its sucking. See it out of morbid curiosity if you must, but don't say we all didn't warn you.

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