Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Too Dumb

All I wanted to do was see a stupid movie. Why did the creators behind Movie 43 have to ruin that?

A series of sketch shorts from the minds of Peter Farrelly and Charles Wessler (who ruled Hollywood in the nineties with hits like There's Something about Mary and Dumb and Dumber) and filmed over the course of many years, Movie 42 uses a dozen directors and an insane number of A-list stars in fulfilling the most base of art forms; they try to out-gross one another with scenes that include a young couple with a poop fetish, superhero speed dating, teen menstruation, a truth or dare game gone out of control, violent leprechauns, and a man with testicles dangling from his chin. No connection other than existing within the same 90 minutes is made apparent, and if any of that appealed to you, I guarantee that Movie 42 will still find a way to disappoint you.

Yup, Emma Stone will officially do ANYTHING.
What fools you at first into thinking that there's something here is the multitude of top-notch talent involved in the process. There are two Academy Award winners (Kate Winslet and Halle Berry) in this cast, countless former nominees (as well as current noms Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts) and even more respected character actors, all of whom apparently didn't realize what they were getting into when they signed on for the ride. Gross-out humor is one thing when it comes from people you expect (the Scary Movie and associated spin-off franchises use most of the same low-budget talent) but with the exception of Anna Faris (in a scene with real-life husband Chris Pratt), you wouldn't expect the same from this particular class of actor. Watching these celebrities do things they wouldn't normally on film was much of the appeal of seeing Movie 43, and likely the only thing to draw audiences this past weekend.

Anna, I thought you had gotten past this!
The problem is that for all the gross-out, completely obscene humor Farrelly and company put forth, they often forgot to make sure what we were seeing was FUNNY. You can get through entire scenes without even cracking a smile, and that happens far too often. It would be one thing if there were just spots of weakness, misogyny and the over-reliance of sex jokes that interrupted the gut-busting laughter, but that is tragically THE WHOLE THING. Even if the scene in question had a promising concept, it was quickly lost to easy sight gags and rampant stupidity. For instance, watching Richard Gere, Jack McBrayer and Kate Bosworth argue over why teenage boys are having sex with their company's new music player, the iBabe (which represents a full-sized, naked woman) gets old quickly. And Liev Schreiber and Watts playing homeschooling parents who don't want their son to miss out on all the bullying, awkward situations and humiliations of high school plays like a scene out of time. Berry, Winslet, Jackman, and Greg Kinnear are all wasted as they do little or nothing that could possibly get a rise out of the audience. The only moments I found remotely funny were the skits "Veronica", in which Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone murmur dirty things they want to do to one another over the PA system of a supermarket late at night, and "Victory's Glory", in which Terrence Howard plays a coach giving an inspiring speech to a black basketball team who believe they are inferior to the opposing, all-white team. In fact, Howard's emphatic screams of "You're black! They're white! This ain't hockey!" were the only times the entire film that anybody in the theater laughed out loud.

Yup, that's the whole game plan.
It's sadly obvious that Peter Farrelly has no freaking clue what funny is anymore. While he was able to get away with gross-out gags back in the nineties, those at least were both outrageous and hilarious when they needed to be. Here his antics (and those of directors like Brett Ratner, James Gunn, Steve Carr and Steven Brill) fall completely flat, easily maintaining the targeted level of obscenity but almost never getting off the ground with anything representing actual humor. As a result, it's easily the worst movie of 2013. Sure, it's still early, but you have to WORK to be this bad, and I can't imagine anyone else falling this low in the near future. My old movie-watching sidekick Anne used to speak of the "Stupid Factor", a phenomena in which something could be so stupid that it was actually pretty funny and clever. That used to be Farrelly's M.O. not all that long ago. Now he gives stupid movies a bad rap, possibly putting out not just the worst movie of 2013, but of the whole decade.

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