I didn’t pay money to see this film, and neither should you.
It should pain me to say this, as it has been a long time since a sketch comedy movie was attempted in mainstream cinema. They don’t often do well and find better audiences on home video. The worst of the lot can be lop-sided in their offerings, but in past features (The Groove Tube, Kentucky Fried Movie) there will usually be a handful of classic scenes that justify their ticket price. Not this one.
I confess that I’m baffled by Hollywood’s ability to make comedies without jokes. With the number of writers that contributed to Movie 43, you’d think one might fall in accidentally while they were all patting each other on the back. But no, I’ll save you the trouble of looking: The only joke in Movie 43 is its title, because it’s not really a movie. It’s a bowel movement with a 90 minute long afterburn.
The film’s main draw is its A-list cast. The frame story stars Dennis Quaid as a talentless screenwriter trying to pitch a movie to Greg Kinnear. The individual sketches are his awful ideas. In fact, they’re so awful that Quaid has to eventually hold Kinnear at gun point to stay in his office. (I have no such excuse myself.) The sketches go on, and everybody is in this film: Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Kristen Bell, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Will Sasso, Common, Seth McFarlane, Chloe Moretz, Elizabeth Banks, Terrence Howard, etc., etc. Perhaps everybody owed their respective directors a favor.
I hated this movie. If it is too much to call comedy art, let us at the very least say that it takes effort. There is not a trace of effort in anything Movie 43 attempts. Ah, but the aim of Movie 43 is to be vulgar and offensive. Yes, it is vulgar, and it is offensive, but it is only vulgar, and it is only offensive. The saving grace of a tasteless film is that it’s funny, or true. You’ll find no hide or hare of either here. I could detail how redundant and lazy this film is, but I won’t spend more than 800 words on this wet smear of celluloid, so let me put it this way:
Once upon a time in the Golden Age of Hollywood there were men and women that animated the screen with silly faces and outlandish behavior, and they were the cream of the vaudeville crop, performers who’d polished their acts on stages all over the country, actors that could wring laughter out of their audience with the merest twitch or double-take. This era gave us Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, the Three Stooges, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy. There were standards and practices to watch out for, so they had to disguise their naughtiness with double entendres and, in lieu of a toilet to pull their jokes from (toilets weren’t allowed onscreen, you see), they had to jab at the social classes, mock the stuffed shirts, dazzle with wordplay we didn’t have in real life because anybody that clever should be in pictures. Vaudeville’s children were Lucille Ball and Benny Hill, actors that came from a rich tradition of storytelling and slapstick. In the 1970s the Not Ready for Primetime Players emerged from Chicago’s Second City to make us laugh on Saturday Night Live. There was The Goon Show in Britain, and Monty Python; there was Woody Allen in America, and Mel Brooks, too. In the 1980s, National Lampoon gave us some pretty decent yucks, and in the ‘90s we had the weird antics of The Kids in the Hall.
And what does that rich tradition give us today? According to Movie 43: Hugh Jackman with testicles growing out of his neck, Stephen Merchant tattooing a penis on his face, Halle Berry getting plastic surgery, a masturbating cat, Chloe Moretz having her first period, Anna Faris asking her boyfriend to poop on her, Emma Stone giving her boyfriend HPV, Johnny Knoxville and a blowjob fairy, Dennis Quaid blowing a security guard, Common sleeping with Greg Kinnear’s wife, Superman with semen in his hair, an iPod with breasts, and Terrence Howard telling his basketball team that they’re black, not white, for five minutes.
There is not a single moment of Movie 43 that is detached from this feculence, though the word “doodoo” has never been more appropriate.
What’s sad is that there are people writing jokes and making people laugh on the internet that do this better, passionately, and for free, and they do it with no major studio behind them. Save your money and check out Subnormality, 5 Second Films, Bifrenzi, Those Aren’t Muskets, almost anything on Cracked.com, or any of the fine articles right here on this very website.
Directed by Various
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