January 31, 2013

God of Comedy, Why Hast Thou Forsaken 43?

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Movie 43 is an exceptional film. I can honestly say that few films have made me feel as much emotion as this 90 minute anthology of no holds barred comedy.

However, most of these feelings relate to disgust, revulsion and gagging.

I rarely get mad at movies. I believe in artistic license and audience interpretation. Yet, all that aside, Movie 43, produced by Peter Farrelly and longtime partner Charles Wessler (There’s Something About Mary, Dumb & Dumber, Shallow Hal) made me furious.

Made over four years and starring every-working-actor-they-could-get, the film was a special brand of painful that completely misunderstands the YouTube generation’s sensibilities. I think the added blow for me came from watching Beast of the Southern Wild the day before — a film that delicately addresses sensitive human experiences to paint a gorgeous story. Starring first time actors, it is the starkest contrast to the celebrity filled mess that is Movie 43.

Peter Farrelly even took to Twitter — urgh that’s a line I never ever want to write again ever — to tell critics to lighten up.

“To the critics: Movie 43 is not the end of the world. It’s just a $6-million movie where we tried to do something different. Now back off.” Farrley continued, “To the critics: You always complain that Hollywood never gives you new stuff, and then when you get it, you flip out …”

Mr. Farrelly, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Given the scarce audience on a Saturday evening showing and a dastardly box office turnout despite extensive online marketing, it seems like most of the world agrees.

There is certainly something to provocative films — see A Clockwork Orange, anything Tarantino, or even slapstick ridiculous — for example, many of Farrelly and Wessler’s previous films.

Movie 43 can be forgiven for being gross and sloppy. Its biggest sin is that it’s just not funny. The thrown together amassment of skits being passed as a film is introduced to us via a frantic screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) pitching his screenplay to producer Greg Kennear. At one point, following a sequence that follows Kate Winslet as she embarks on a blind date with Hugh Jackman — otherwise perfect save a pair of balls hanging from his chin — Quaid’s character returns to scold the audience. That very responsive male body part is, according to Crazy Quaid, a metaphor for the boundaries we create to keep from falling in love.

Fair enough Movie 43. I’ll play along. So maybe the sketch about a lifelike iBabe music player that mutilates the genitals of teenage boys that try to have sex with its cooling fan is a reflection on how corporations like Apple care only about the bottom line and not Chinese factory workers or consumer safety?

Maybe the one about intensive homeschooling — where the mother goes as far to makes out with her son to teach him about awkward high school encounters — is about 21st century helicopter parenting?

And perhaps if I squint just enough, Halle Berry’s “Truth or Dare” shtick with Stephen Merchant was a cute reflection on the difficulties of letting go and finding romance in our modern world?

Yeah, no. I don’t think so.

There is so much head scratching involved in why Oscar-caliber actors like Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and critical darlings like Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, Chloe Moritz, Richard Gere and Gerard Butler would do this to us.

What happened, Kate? Were the Oscars and Golden Globes getting too heavy for you? Uma, are you getting back at the world for that We Need to Talk About Kevin snub? Christopher Mintz-Plasse, was it it too much pressure to be associated with good crude comedies. Did it seem best to just rip that off like a bandage?

Stars ARE just like us. They probably also succumb to peer pressure (I mean, everyone is doing it in this move) and the temptation of back-end deals for a couple days of work with friends.

Of course, three sophisticated Cornell senior girls might not be the film’s target audience. However, behind us sat large groups of teenage boys — likely the key demographic for this — and they too seemed hardly impressed.

Mumblings —“What the f—“, “whyyyy”, and “I bet they’re going to bring up dicks noww” — were overheard. Mind you, these were not in a tone of awe, but genuine disgust.  I can’t even give Movie 43 the 15-year-old male endorsement.

It is my moral duty to warn you that this movie is not even worth a curiosity watch. Save your 11 dollars and self worth: Watch something — anything — else.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar