Wednesday, January 8, 2014

So Many Wonderful Actors Create Something Horrible: Movie 43

The Good: Moments of actual humor, Wonderful cast used fairly well.
The Bad: Drawn-out concept, No character development, An equal number of misses as hits
The Basics: Movie 43 is a sketch comedy film that pushes the envelope of good taste with drastically mixed results.

When it comes to comedy films, there are very few that live up to the hype for repeated viewings. When, during a first viewing, viewers find themselves bored or frustrated with the premise of the film, it does not bode well for the film’s longevity in the collective unconsciousness. Slapstick comedies especially suffer from the problem of having limited rewatchability, as do sketch comedy programs. So, last year’s star-studded film Movie 43 had two potential strikes against it before the movie even began. Despite having an incredible cast of classy actors, Movie 43 is little more than an extensive, R-rated episode of MadTV or Saturday Night Live.

Movie 43 trades on its extensive movie-star cast to try to fool viewers into believing they are watching something other than lowest common denominator humor for under an hour and a half. The film, which is loosely held together with a plotline of a failed writer trying to sell his first script to a movie studio executive at gunpoint, is filled with raunchy humor that frequently crosses the line of good taste.

Opening with Charlie Wessler pitching to Griffin Schraeder, Wessler tells stories that he thinks are supposed to be heartwarming and crowd-pleasing. The first is a blind date between a woman who is excited to go out with one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. Davis is rich, successful, single . . . and has a scrotum on his neck, which causes Beth quite a bit of discomfort to see during her dinner with him. That is followed by a couple talking with another couple about their homeschooled son. They tell their new neighbors all about how they haze their son and provide him with awkward high school-level first sexual experiences (which is beyond troubling to the neighbors and the audience). Then comes the “romantic comedy” pitch where a woman asks her boyfriend to poop on her and, after getting some advice, filling up on burritos and laxatives, he feels he needs to rush into meeting his girlfriend’s bizarre request.

The pitches continue with a young man working at a grocery store when the young woman who loves and loathes him comes in and the two give each other sexually explicit small talk . . . over the public address system in the store. There is a parody of an Apple product; the iBabe, which is a life-sized MP3 player in the shape of a naked woman. After the initial advertisements, the makers of the iBabe wrestle with the public relations nightmare of young men whose penises are mangled when they fuck the iBabe and encounter the unit’s cooling fan inside the vagina of the unit. Superhero fans are treated to a sketch wherein Robin is out on a speed date with Lois Lane and then Supergirl when Batman comes and cockblocks him. In another sketch a boy has a girl over for a first date when she has her first period and bleeds through her pants. The three males in the house freak out having no idea how to deal with the event and it only serves to embarrass and horrify her. A brutal segment follows in which two men capture and torture a leprechaun for his gold. Then comes a first date in which a man and a woman play an escalating game of truth or dare. They end up horribly disfiguring and humiliating one another before finally consummating their relationship. The penultimate segment is a hilarious mockery of sports movies. In it, a coach motivates his high school basketball team by pointing out that the students are black and they are going up against a white team so they are guaranteed to win. Partway through the closing credits comes the final segment, a sketch involving a couple that is interrupted by their (animated) cat, Beezel. Beezel has a crush on his owner, Anson, and when Amy walks in on Beezel masturbating to pictures of Anson in a swimsuit, a very violent series of encounters follow.

Such is the type of humor in Movie 43. Sadly, there is not really much more to the movie than the sketches themselves. Movie 43 scores as high as it does with me because it actually is amusing in points. Movie 43 is entertaining and it is funny when it is not being entirely disturbing.

Moreover, Movie 43 is a cinematic example of “better ingredients, better pizza” as it were. Getting Liev Schreiber, Terence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Kristen Bell and other a- and b-list actors to perform in the sketches makes them seem like something more than cheap shots and gross-out humor. But, that’s mostly what Movie 43 is; it’s just fortunate that the jokes land as often as they do, or else the movie would be far less than it appears.

For other works with Leslie Bibb, please visit my reviews of:
Iron Man 2
Confessions Of A Shopaholic
Iron Man
Talladega Nights: The Legend Of Ricky Bobby


For other movie reviews, please visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing.

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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