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Movie 43

2013 | 90 min | R | 1.85:1

Movie 43


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Theatrical release date

 25 January, 2013
 25 January, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

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Movie 43 Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, January 25, 2013

I have no idea what the title “Movie 43” means, but I do know what the picture is about. A series of sketches and commercials barely tied together with a flimsy wraparound story, the collection is intended to show off the zanier side of normally sedate talent, pushing Oscar-winners and more dramatically inclined thespians into taboo-smashing blasts of comedy, also making room for a few actors specifically known for their crudeness a chance to join the party. Stacked high with famous faces while the material is primarily bottom-of-the-barrel muck unfit for feature-length investigation, “Movie 43” looks to enchant with a proud parade of shock value, asking ticket buyers to delight in ugliness in the name of good fun. If this is “Movie 43,” I’d hate to see the previous 42 attempts at pronounced stupidity the production didn’t want to release.

With his life in ruins, Charlie (Dennis Quaid) is anxious to sell a few movie pitches to studio executive Griffin (Greg Kinnear). Working through his terrible ideas, Charlie grows desperate, pulling a gun on Griffin to make him buy the lot and cut an enormous check, requiring the attention of slimy studio boss Bob (Common). Charlie’s ideas include: “The Catch,” where Beth (Kate Winslet) embarks on a blind date with suave bachelor Davis (Hugh Jackman), only to discover a childhood surgical procedure has shifted his testicles to his neck; “Homeschooled” finds parents Robert (Liev Schreiber) and Samantha (Naomi Watts) bullying their own kid (Alex Cranmer) to give him the traditional high school experience; “The Proposition” greets Jason (Chris Pratt), who finds his girlfriend Vanessa’s request to be defecated on complicating his proposal plans; “Veronica” observes a bored grocery store clerk (Kieran Culkin) attempt to woo an old girlfriend (a digitally smoothed Emma Stone) with perverse exchanges of desire; “iBabe” finds a portable media device manufacturer (the boardroom includes Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, and Jack McBrayer) rethinking their naked woman design when teenage boys struggle to have sex with the machines instead listening to music; “Super Hero Speed Dating” captures a tense night of romance and bomb disposal for Batman (Jason Sudeikis), Robin (Justin Long), Supergirl (Kristen Bell), Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb), and Lois Lane (Uma Thurman); “Middleschool Date” confronts the horror of young love when teen Amanda (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets her first period at the home of her boyfriend (Jimmy Bennett), freaking out his older brother (Christopher Mintz-Plasse); “Happy Birthday” finds Pete (Johnny Knoxville) trying to please his best friend Brian (Seann William Scott) with a gift of a kidnapped, and quite ornery, leprechaun (Gerard Butler); “Truth or Dare” follows Emily’s (Halle Berry) attempt to jazz up yet another online date by playing a sick game of escalation with Donald (Stephen Merchant); and “Victory’s Glory” steps back in time to the 1950s to study Coach Jackson’s (Terrence Howard) efforts to inspire his African-American basketball team as they head out to play a group of easily beatable Caucasians.

A picture of random ideas, “Movie 43” looks to step into the big boy shoes of films such as 1977’s “Kentucky Fried Movie,” an effort that found a sweet spot of silliness through sly comedic invention, a light serving of provocative material, and a genuine adoration for the grindhouse entertainment it was lampooning. “Movie 43” doesn’t share the same aspiration, resembling a series of half-baked ideas that were lying around, requiring some type of structure to motivate a theatrical release. With most of the feature shot three years ago (back when Moretz was a child and cell phones were bulky), the general randomness is to be expected. However, the wraparound tale is simply lazy, not even functional as a way to bridge the segments together (why would Charlie’s movie pitch include commercials?), soon resembling yet another unfinished work to toss on the pile.

Of course, if your idea of a gut-busting good time at the movies is to see Jackman clown around with a pair of testicles on his neck, accidentally dipping them in butter and slapping them on the head of a baby, then “Movie 43” is pure gold. There’s also the sight of Pratt gorging on burritos and guzzling liquid laxative to bring himself to a full load of diarrhea, ready to blast Faris in the face with his gift. Perhaps Moretz smearing menstrual blood all over a suburban kitchen is your thing? Maybe it’s the image of Butler’s face digitally pasted on a dwarf’s body, cursing up a storm while tied to chair. If you’re still unconvinced that “Movie 43” is a feature for you, there’s a scene where Berry makes guacamole with her bare (and obviously artificial) breast, while Merchant walks around with a tattoo of a penis on his face.

Okay, so I admit the film is borderline unwatchable, using only the crudest comedic ideas to prod the audience into a reaction. However, there are flashes of imagination, with “Homeschooled” a clever reworking of the high school experience at home, complete with a make-out session with mom and brutal hazing from dad. And one of the commercials, “Machine Kids,” is actually somewhat smart, imagining a world where ATMs, soda dispensers, and copy machines have tiny, frightened children working inside them. It’s worth a smile, unlike everything else in this baffling misfire.

Just when you think it’s all over, and we’re talking end-credits-rolling over, “Movie 43” coughs up on last short, this final round offering Elizabeth Banks as an exasperated woman dealing with her boyfriend’s (Josh Duhamel) jealous, oversexed cartoon cat in “Beezel.” The sketch isn’t even explained, perhaps included because the animation was too expensive to waste. Unless you’re dying to see Duhamel mime performing fellatio on a cat, it’s best to leave the theater early.

“Movie 43” is aching to offend, disturb, and outrage. It demands gasps and gags. However, all it really encourages are a steady stream of eye-rolls and yawns. Actually, there’s shock too, as I’m stunned so many wonderful actors would agree to take part in such a lame idea. I’m all for a good time with bawdy jokes and inspired monkey business, but “Movie 43” doesn’t have the energy to be anything more than an insistently disconnected waste of time.

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Emma Stone, Gerard Butler, Stephen Merchant, Richard Gere, Elizabeth Banks
Directors: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, James Gunn

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