May 24, 2013

New Disc Review: MOVIE 43 (Blu-Ray/DVD)

Starring Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Seth MacFarlane, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Anna Faris, Justin Long, Uma Thurman, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks. Directed by Peter Farrelly, Elizabeth Banks, James Gunn, Brett Ratner, et al. (2013, 94 min).

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Movie 43 is, so far, one of the most critically reviled movies of the year. Many of those critics have already declared it among the worst movies ever made. Richard Roeper even cheekily dubbed it "the Citizen Kane of awful."

Is it really that bad? No, but it is pretty terrible, the kind of thing immature ninth grade boys would make if they had all of Hollywood's resources at their disposal. Movie 43 is a staggering train wreck of a film with the biggest cast of A-list actors since The Ten Commandments, and numerous directors whose skills are wasted here (well, maybe not Brett Ratner's). It's one of those movies that you watch in slack-jawed amazement at the amount of talent involved to produce something so blatantly offensive, crude and stupid.

But it's that train-wreck quality that actually makes Movie 43 initially fascinating. Seeing such respected actors as Richard Gere, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Uma Thurman (to name a few) appear in something like this is, at the very least, a one-of-a-kind experience. One can't help but wonder what possessed some of them to do this.

"Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just
glad to see me?"
The movie itself is a series of crude sketches, the kind you might see on Saturday Night Live if they didn't have to adhere to network TV standards, thinly tied together by an overarching segment in which involves a disturbed screenwriter making a sales pitch to a movie studio. Though this connecting arch is pretty awful, the first actual sketch is really funny, involving a blind date with Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman, the running gag being that Jackman has a set of testicles hanging from his chin. It actually raises one's expectations that the rest of the movie will be just as much uninhibited fun, a feeling reinforced by the next sketch, in which some loving parents, home-schooling their teenage son, go to extremes to recreate the high school experience at home. At this point, I found myself thinking maybe those critics who hated the movie needed to lighten up.

But alas, things go downhill from there. You know how SNL loads all their best material in the first half hour, leaving the crappy shit until the end? Except for what is arguably the greatest Tampax commercial of all time, the rest of Movie 43 consists of crappy shit, trading in cleverness for shock value, daring the viewer to be offended. That these god-awful sketches feature respected actors appears to be the entire point of the whole movie.

If that's the case, then perhaps all those condemning critics had it wrong all along. After seeing Movie 43, I have to say maybe its utter awfulness is intentional, especially since it's technically well made and the performances are actually pretty good (despite the idiocy of the material, most of the cast bring their A-game). From that standpoint, Movie 43 is morbidly compelling, like our tendency to slow down to check out a violent car wreck on the way to work.

But that doesn't mean we want to see vehicular carnage every day on our daily commute. After the novelty of seeing this cast appear in shockingly-crude sketches wears off, most folks aren't likely to sit through them again, making Movie 43 a film that’s best seen just once.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Alternate Cut; Deleted Short - "Find Our Daughter"; Theatrical Trailer

(Out of 5)

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