The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 1, 2013

Benji Tunnell: No excuse for stars' involvement in 'Movie 43'

By Benji Tunnell
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — "Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

-- Principal from the movie  "Billy Madison"

Rarely does a line from one movie so perfectly encapsulate another film, but the above from "Billy Madison" could just as easily have been written to describe what is probably the worst abomination to grace the big screen since I've been writing this column -- and that's including "The Bounty Hunter."

"Movie 43" is so bad that if terrorist captives were given the option of interrogation via waterboarding or being forced to watch this film, they would pick the waterboarding every time. Though, in fairness, what I witnessed on the screen should not be called a film, as it disparages so many movies that came before it by such association.

The brainchild of former gross-out comedy auteur Peter Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary," "Dumb and Dumber"), the loose framework of the film follows Dennis Quaid's character as he pitches the world's worst movie to Greg Kinnear's character. I'm not going to use character names, as they are irrelevant to the movie, but I do think it is important to shame the actors involved with this atrocity.

To give you an idea of how little forethought apparently went into this film, IMDB has the following plot description: "A series of interconnected short films follows three kids as they search the depths of the Internet to find the most banned movie in the world." I'm guessing this is the direction the movie was originally supposed to take, but I assume that the rough outline of the movie must have been changed in hopes of salvaging an irredeemable film. Unfortunately, it is the actual content of the movie that causes it to sink.

The movie consists of a series of short sketches, each painfully unfunny and interminably long. Think early '80s "Saturday Night Live," only with more swearing and more boobs, then add an additional 10 minutes to each segment. Every single sketch dies upon arrival, then is propped up and carried on far past the point of tolerance. I would have been less annoyed had I paid 10 bucks to be kicked in the groin.

Most of the shorts from the movie are far too graphic, juvenile or disgusting to describe in a newspaper, but here's a snapshot of what Farrelly and crew thought was funny: Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet are on a date, but Hugh Jackman has a scrotum on his neck. Winslet's the only one who seems to notice it. HA!

Let me give you a minute to recover from that one. And that's just the first sketch. It gets so much funnier!

The film closes with a mid-credits skit involving Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel and a cat that is so in love with Duhamel that it pleasures itself to pictures of his master and then tries to kill Banks.

The film loves its juvenile humor: If you can think of a poo, pee, fart, self-love or even menstruation joke, it's somewhere in here, and it is guaranteed not to be funny.

Farrelly is trying to capture the vibe of "Kentucky Fried Movie," a much better spoof film that helped launched the careers of David Zucker and Jim Abrahams, who went on to classics such as "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun." Where "Kentucky" served as an introduction to new voices that would help shape and mold the landscape of comedy, "Movie 43" stands as a sad epitaph marking the death of a once moderately funny career.

The amazing thing about this is how many talented people Farrelly managed to convince, cajole or blackmail into participating in this cinematic massacre. For four years, Farrelly shoehorned in star after star to film segments during their downtimes, and it seems the bigger the star, the less funny the material.

Sure, there are hacks like Brett Ratner and Sean William Scott and there are has-beens like Kieran Culkin and Will Sasso, and even sideshow freaks like Snooki, but just look at the rest of the cast: Aside from those mentioned earlier, we also have Emma Stone, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Farris, Chris Pratt, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Halle Berry, Jason Sudeikis, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bob Odenkirk -- these are genuinely talented, often funny people involved in this curse of a movie; people who have won Golden Globes and Oscars. There is no reasonable excuse for any of their involvement.

It's like Farrelly is the Jim Jones of Hollywood, leading the gullible and weak-minded to drink the Kool Aid and commit career suicide.

"Movie 43" is like a cinematic colonic: It is painful, uncomfortable, devoid of fun and all you end up with is an unpleasant mess that no one wants to look at. I can think of no other reason for this movie to exist than as a government project trying to ferret out future elected officials. So, if for some reason you do end up in an auditorium showing this movie, be extra nice to the one guy who's laughing.

He may be your next congressman.