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 30, 2015
Flying is statistically the safest form of transportation. It's a popular sentiment, one commonly recited to restore confidence in the important industry after tragic disasters like the deadly Germanwings crash last week. For "Pilot Error" writer and film producer Roger Rapoport, however, that statement isn't as accurate as we'd like to think.
Published March 29, 2015
For a lot of Hollywood, making a kids movie translates out to making essentially a mobile: a simply distracting mix of color and sound. And that's how you get "Home," another manic Sweet Tarts-colored whizbang to be mentally tossed away like an empty popcorn bucket as soon as the film lets out. Yes, the kids will be sated. For anyone older, however, the cue to leave "Home" to go home likely won't come soon enough.
Published March 26, 2015
By most definitions, director Alejandro Jodorowsky's attempt to adapt Frank Herbert's "Dune" to the big screen in the mid-'70s was a failure. The filmmaker's furiously inventive and imaginative movie never made it to the big screen, but man ... what a trip it would've been, at least certainly judging by Frank Pavich's hypnotically fascinating documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune," showing tonight at 7 p.m. at the UWM Union Theatre.
Published March 25, 2015
I'm starting to get concerned about Jack O'Connell. First there was "Starred Up," in which he plays a violent prison inmate; then he starred in the two-hour beatdown-palooza that was "Unbroken." And now there's "'71," which doesn't even get five seconds in before it's punching O'Connell in the face and dragging him through mud. If he insists on essentially self-flagellating on screen, though, at least it's in the service of a quite good movie.
Published March 25, 2015
2015 is shaping up to be a world tour of beloved classic rock stars. The Rolling Stones are expected to announce a Milwaukee stop ... at some point. Ringo Starr is heading to the Riverside in October, the same month The Who will celebrate its 50th anniversary at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Also celebrating 50 years of existence: Pink Floyd, hitting the Riverside stage Thursday and Friday night. Well, kind of - in the form of tribute band Brit Floyd.
Published March 23, 2015
If "Divergent" was like "The Hunger Games" took a brick to the head, then "Insurgent" plays like "The Hunger Games" got lost in a brick hail storm. The sequel doubles down on the idiocy, incoherence and creative kleptomania the first film struggled through. Part one made it palatable; part two makes it laughable.
Published March 21, 2015
Early on in the 2014-15 season, the Milwaukee Rep staged "The Color Purple." It's a show actress Felicia P. Fields knows very well; after all, her turn as Sofia in the Broadway musical scored her a Tony nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical back in 2006. It's another familiar show, however, that brings Fields back to Milwaukee: "Low Down Dirty Blues," a celebration of classic blues at its deepest and dirtiest.
Published March 21, 2015
Vampires have gotten a bad rap over the last decade or so,but while the recent vampire trend has provided some pretty craterous, sell-out lows, it's also spawned a fair amount of impressive highs for the notorious neck-nibblers. For example: "What We Do in the Shadows," a hilarious New Zealand import that gushes goofy laughs like a comedy hemophiliac.
Published March 19, 2015
The Uptowner was packed and not just for a late Sunday afternoon. Jock Jams blared from the speakers, and anticipation was in the air. On two TVs at separate ends of the bar, the Wisconsin-Michigan State game was coming down to the wire. But that wasn't the contest the excited and eager crowd was here to see. No, the main event was the Uptowner's third annual beard competition.
Published March 19, 2015
"Run All Night" has little interest in just simply delivering B-movie thrills; it wants to be taken seriously. It wants to be a drama about men - about fathers and sons, about the family we choose and the family we're stuck with - and sins and regrets. Unfortunately, more just results in less in "Run All Night," with the dour drama and B-movie action combining to make a movie that feels more like "Amble All Night" or perhaps "Dawdle Through Dusk."