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Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie(2012)
Two guys get a billion dollars to make a movie, only to watch their dream run off course. In order to make the money back, they then attempt to revitalize a failing shopping mall.
For more about Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and the Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray release, see Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on May 7, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Eric Wareheim, Tim Heidecker
Directors: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
» See full cast & crew
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray Review
Not-So-Awesome Movie, Mediocre Job!
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, May 7, 2012
If you're thinking of watching Billion Dollar Movie and you've never seen Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Good Job! on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, you should stop now, make a trip to YouTube, and familiarize yourself first with the duo's brand of extremely post-modern absurdity. Otherwise, you'll probably be more than a little confused. Drawing on the wealth of trashy weirdness inherent in public access TV and local business commercials from the early 1990s, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have developed a style of awkward, uncomfortable comedy that might well be described as "anti-humor." They've referred to their 11-minute Adult Swim series--which ran for five seasons between '07 and 2010--as the "nightmare version of television," and there is a certain David Lynchian quality to the show, which basically channel- surfs through late-night infomercial tropes, subverting them into glitchy broadcasts from a surreal alternate universe. You're never quite sure if the correct response is to laugh or, I dunno, kill yourself. Awesome Show's cult followers "get it," but the uninitiated have a hard time understanding exactly what they're seeing. Similarly, it feels like Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is for pre-established fans only.
At the same time, I suspect that some Awesome Show apologists will be disappointed with the film, which mostly wastes the talents of its bankable costars--including Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, and Will Forte--and rarely matches the delirious idiocy of the TV series. Tim and Eric's freeform insanity is well-suited to a brief 11-minute time slot, but stretched out over an hour and a half, their gags wear noticeably thin. Although they've mostly abandoned the show's format of rapid-fire non sequitur sketches, their attempt at a sustained narrative leaves a lot to be desired.
The premise is simple and appropriately ridiculous: Elderly mobster-type Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) gives Tim and Eric one billion dollars to make a Hollywood movie, but the pair bungle the production spectacularly, spending all the cash on a suit made of diamonds, a Johnny Depp impersonator--that they thought was the real deal--and extensive personal makeovers for themselves. Now, with orange tans, pearly white veneers, and frosted hair, they look like Bon Jovi tour managers, and they've produced only three minutes of usable film footage. Schlaaang is pissed, of course, and threatens to kill them if they don't come up with the one billion bucks.
As fate would have it--after a coke-fueled bender culminating in a painful genital piercing--they happen to see a commercial that offers exactly one billion dollars to any "man, or possibly two" who's willing to take over management of the S'Wallow Valley Shopping Mall and Pizza Court, a trash- strewn post-apocalyptic hellscape that's filled with squatting vagrants and home to a rabid, man-eating wolf. The two put on their best business casual outfits, fire their spiritual guru--an underused Zach Galifianakis--and set out across the desert to meet with the mall's "president," Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell), who makes them watch Top Gun...twice...before giving them the job. Of course. Did I mention Damien's nephew Taquito (John C. Reilly), a sickly Faulknerian man-child idiot who warns Tim and Eric about the "Yogurt Man" who haunts the mall?
As you can tell, there's no end to the movie's off-the-wall randomness. I mean, this is a film where Tim adopts the young son of a used toilet paper salesman. Where John C. Reilly becomes wolf bait by duct taping slices of moldy pizza to his chest. Where Jeff Goldblum shows up as a character called "Chef Goldblum," shilling a theater chair with a built-in I.V. drip and stirrup-style leg rests. Where the fourth wall is broken so Tim and Eric can explain an erection joke. Where a stand-up comedian at an Italian restaurant makes bread-related puns. Where Tim has an exceedingly icky sex scene with Clueless' Twink Caplan. Where Twin Peaks' Ray Wise practices a form of alternative healing called "Shrim" that involves his six sons-- who "eat only the finest, tenderest meats"--defecating on Eric in a bathtub. I could go on and on.
There are some genuinely funny bits--my favorite part in the film is a throwaway moment where Zach Galifianakis tries to eat a tea bag--but these are interspersed spottily among long stretches of unfunny awkwardness. Since Tim and Eric's humor is derived from being off-putting intentionally-- repeating knowingly awful gags until they somehow transcend their own awfulness--it's hard to draw a distinct line between where Billion Dollar Movie is wink-wink bad and where it's simply bad bad. But I get the sense that Heidecker and Wareheim too often use irony to cover up a lack of real, substantive ideas. This is particularly evident in the movie's sagging middle act, where the two struggle to keep the comedic momentum going. It's telling that the whole of Billion Dollar Movie's plot could probably be compressed into a single episode of Awesome Show.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray, Video Quality
Tim and Eric are known for their public access-style, VHS-quality sketches on their TV series, Awesome Show, Good Job!, so it may come as an aesthetic shock that Billion Dollar Movie is so comparatively sharp and clean and modern-looking. (For the most part. There are still at least a few VHS interludes, and these look as fuzzy as you'd expect.) The film was shot digitally using the ever-popular Red One camera, and arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that seems entirely faithful to intent. I wouldn't necessarily call the film's visual style "cinematic"--the image is purposely stagy and brightly lit--but it's very clear that we're watching a Movie, and not just an Awesome Show. The Red One, paired with good lenses, creates a very crisp 4k source file, and the picture here is often seriously detailed, to the extent that we can make out the individual pores of Tim and Eric's heavily made-up faces. Color is nicely graded as well--check out some of the raw footage in the bonus features to see what a difference digital grading makes--and the image has punchy but not over-processed contrast. (Skin tones, whether orange tanned or pasty white, look accurate too.) You will spot some occasional noise in the image, but there are no overt compression issues or other distractions. The movie may not look like a billion bucks--this is no Avatar--but it certainly looks like it was made for a few million.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray, Audio Quality
"Presented in Schlaaang Sound: Absorb the Experience." At least, that's what one of mock slates during the title sequence reads. In reality, the film is presented on Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. There are no particular stand-out sound design moments here, but the mix has no trouble keeping up with Tim and Eric's absurdist hijinks. The bulk of "the experience" is anchored up front, with a strong stereo presence, but the rear channels get plenty of action too, from ambience in the derelict mall to bullets popping off during the climactic showdown with Tommy Schlaaang. The track is at its most dynamic when pumping out the ironically dramatic score, which sounds big and bold and takes up space in all 5.1 channels. (The fake dance song that plays inside the "Circus Disco" is bumping too.) Throughout it all, dialogue is cleanly recorded and easily understood, nested high in the mix. The disc includes optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles, but no dubs, which is a shame, because it'd be hilarious to hear voice actors trying to replicate Tim and Eric's humor in another language.
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is probably the weirdest comedy you'll see all year, but it certainly won't be the best. As a fan of Awesome Show, Good Job!, I'm disappointed that Tim and Eric's big screen debut isn't funnier. It has its moments of transcendent lunacy, but they're few and far between. Still, I have no doubt the movie will find its defenders, who should be pleased with Magnolia Home Entertainment's excellent Blu-ray package, which includes sharp picture quality, a capable lossless audio track, and plenty of extras. For fans only.
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