Critic confessions: Writing reviews for comedies is not easy. Comedy, more so than any other genre, is very subjective, so it's pretty hard to try to explain why some fall on their faces and others are raucous laugh riots. What one person may find hilarious, another may find juvenile, offensive or just plain unfunny. It's all just a matter of personal preference.
That being said, it would be my personal preference for "Movie 43" to be buried at the bottom of the ocean, never to be seen again by human eyes. It is not funny. It barely even registers as amusing. It's a painfully unpleasant and uncomfortable 90-minute sit that made me angry walking out of the theater. The profane short film compilation doesn't even have the decency to be well made.
The frame story feebly holding "Movie 43" together involves Dennis Quaid pitching terrible movie ideas to an increasingly befuddled movie producer, played by Greg Kinnear. The awful pitches take the form of the short stories that comprise the film. Now, this is the point during the pre-production meetings that somebody should've raised his or her hand and asked "Wait, the entire movie is made up of bad movie concepts? Isn't this a dumb idea?"
Unfortunately, this hypothetical conversation never happened, leaving viewers with the following painful skits: Kate Winslet goes on a blind date with Hugh Jackman, who has male genitalia dangling from his neck; Anna Faris wants her boyfriend Chris Pratt to poop on her; Terrence Howard encourages his basketball team to victory by constantly reminding them of their race; Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin profanely bicker in a supermarket while creepy customers leeringly listen; Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville kidnap a profane leprechaun; Richard Gere invents an iPod in the shape of a naked woman; and an animated cat wants to have sex with Josh Duhamel, which doesn't please his girlfriend, Elizabeth Banks.
There are a few other sketches, as well as a few clumsy commercials that don't fit with the theme. Almost all of it is uncomfortable to watch, as each short embarrasses its stars or becomes repulsively crass. There are no jokes or clever lines, just tasteless situations that start at the bottom of the barrel and then proceed to dig themselves deeper.
Even if this kind of humor is down your alley, however, there's simply no excuse for how sloppily it's executed. Each skit wears out its welcome within a few seconds, as it seems obvious the 11 directors and 15 writers came up with the concepts and didn't bother developing them to fill at least ten minutes. Then, after repeating the same embarrassing joke, the sketches throw up their hands and simply give up. Cue the next abysmal sketch.
The worst is the frame story, which, after building to a conflict between Greg Kinnear and his boss (played by Common), just stops and shows what seems to be a deleted scene in which Kinnear asks if they have any more skits to run. Unfortunately, they do.
The hope with most short film anthologies is that if one sketch fails, it won't last long, and a new, better one will take its place. In "Movie 43," there's no hope in sight save for the end credits. And even that is a fake-out, as midway through, the movie realizes it forgot a skit and plays James Gunn's vigorously ugly piece featuring masturbating animated cats and child murderers. You know what they say: Send 'em home with a smile!
There are faint glimmers of a funny movie scattered throughout "Movie 43" â€“ as you'd hope from a cast and crew so large. The premise of the homeschooling sketch starring Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber has potential, albeit untapped. A skit about a bunch of guys freaking out about a girl's first period is mildly amusing in its mockery of males' fear of the female body. I like Stephen Merchant's dumb grin in an unfortunate sketch about an escalating game of truth or dare with Halle Berry (I'm really stretching for positives here).
Like a dollar bill at the bottom of a landfill, however, these scant tolerable moments aren't worth having to drudge through the dirty, rotten trash surrounding them. If the goal was to make the most offensive film of the year, congratulations "Movie 43," you succeeded. Can we go back to trying to make people laugh now?
milROCKeeguy, I do believe the blogger prefaced his post by admitting that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes "funny" and that his opinion may differ from that of others.
MY point, since you missed it, wasnt' that movies or music or video games influence violence. My point was that too many critics (and movie goers) have been brainwashed to think that all it should take for a movie to be considered "great" is to throw a bunch of violence or nudity or loud noises or car chase scenes together with no real story line or without provoking any meaningful emotion in the viewer. This blogger is one of the rare few who expects more than just loud noises and sorta funny one-liners from a movie and I applaud him for that.
I'm pretty sure greendoor and TosaJim have not seen this movie, and probably won't now with this review. What I would like the blogger to confess is what movies he thinks are funny. My guess is New Year's Eve, or a romantic comedy. Another guess may be that he has never watched Funny or Die's show on cable. This is exactly what this movie is. Short sketches into one. But again, I would like to know what the blogger finds as funny, when it comes to movies out there. Plus, I'm guessing TosaJim and greendoor also feel that movies (and music, and video games) influence violence in our society.
I have to say, I really like the critic that wites this blog. We've become so accepting of swear words, violence, and sex scenes that most critics today are too quick to rate a move as "thrilling" or "action packed" or "a real riot". But this blogger is a rarity - one who actually sifts through the cussing and the nudity and the violence for violence's sake to examine the real story (and asks if a story is even there) or the real emotion the viewer is left with (and questions if it's a worthy emotion to be feeling....you shouldn't walk out of a comedy feeling mad, after all!). Kudos on some great reviews!
4 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published March 11, 2014
Bryan Doherty of the Chicago-based jazz-infused rock band Hood Smoke is quietly becoming a star of the bass world. But while his thumping bass lines have that jazzy soul groove sound you'd expect from a band that calls the Windy City home, it's the Cream City that Doherty originally called home.
Published March 7, 2014
"Son of God" isn't based on the much-ballyhooed History Channel miniseries "The Bible." It literally is "The Bible," albeit vigorous edited down from 10 hours to 138 minutes with a few deleted scenes added in for a bonus. To call "Son of God" a new movie is like a date reheating leftovers and saying he cooked dinner for you, then asking for $10 to cover the cost. And it was Chinese takeout to begin with.
Published March 6, 2014
For the past 22 years, jazz pianist Mark Davis has been doing his part to bring a love of jazz to people. When he's not teaching and guiding future jazz artists at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, he's playing jazz piano concerts across the state - such as an upcoming show this Sunday afternoon at Ascension Lutheran Church - giving audiences a different type of lesson in jazz appreciation.
Published March 5, 2014
Some may consider Rick Springfield a one-hit wonder (though his 17 songs in the Top 40 would seem to disprove that), but Rick Springfield's career is far more than pestering Jessie about his girl. The '80s rock star continues to tour - including his current "Stripped Down" tour, his first ever solo tour which brings him to The Pabst Theater tonight.
Published March 4, 2014
We're still many months - and a couple of defrostings - away from Irish Fest, but a taste of the late summer tradition is coming to town Friday night. The Chieftains, one of the most legendary names in Irish music, are coming to The Pabst Theater. Before they hit the stage, OnMilwaukee got a chance to talk to Paddy Moloney and ask about their role in the popularity of Irish music, as well as some of their famous collaborators.
Published March 1, 2014
A viewer buys a ticket and grabs a seat in "Non-Stop" in the hopes of being suckering into ignoring the rules of reality, going along for the ride and having some thrilling nonsense B-movie mystery fun. Unfortunately, I could never buy into Liam Neeson's latest.
Published March 1, 2014
We are just on the outskirts of 24 hours before the Academy Awards finally begin, so I suppose that makes it about time to grab a ballot and actually start making some picks.
Published Feb. 26, 2014
"Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Weeds," the debut album from the folk duo Blessed Feathers, was mostly inspired by places they had lived in. The Wisconsin group only continued to add places to its list, thanks to a two-year span that's seen its members go nomadic, release a new full-length album, build buzz and find themselves the cause of controversy on NPR. It's been quite a road, one that now leads to a show at The Pabst Theater Friday night.
Published Feb. 26, 2014
After a month and a half of buzz, conflicting awards results and Hollywood gamesmanship, yes, the Oscars are finally happening this Sunday night. So as a little refresher for your Oscar parties and betting pools, here's a quick guide to the big nominees, listing off why or why not each movie has a chance.
Published Feb. 26, 2014
It is a story that almost everybody knows, but The Rep's "An Iliad" seeks to tell it like few have seen before. It's a bold show, one that requires a great actor, a great musician and - in this case - a whole new musical score. OnMilwaukee.com got a chance to talk to the two people behind essentially a whole new character, sound designer Josh Schmidt and cellist Alicia Storin, about creating the score and why a story like "An Iliad" has endured.