Movie 43 (2013)
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Griffin Dunne, James Gunn, Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, et.al.
Starring Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Hugh Jackman, Seth MacFarlane, Kate Winslet, etc.
Reviewed by Brooke Corso
I knew walking into this that I wasn’t going to watch Citizen Kane. I was prepared for a few scat jokes and plenty of flatulence. I guess when I saw the big names on the trailer – Oscar winners, action superstars, British imports – I thought that there had to be something smart below the surface. I wish Noomi Rapace had sat next to me in the theater so she could have moaned, “We were wrong...we were so wrong!”
An amalgam of directors from Peter Farrelly (that would have tipped me off had his name been included in the opening credits) to Steven Brill (Drillbit Taylor, Little Nicky) to Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour trilogy) have contributed short segments as part of the manic ramblings of a desperate writer (a gaunt Dennis Quaid) pitching his film to a marketing director (Greg Kinnear, who looks pained through the entire film). He calls his idea “a smart movie with heart, sort of like The Help” to which Kinnear replies, “we are going to make your movie this year’s Howard the Duck!”
It was like watching a succession of bad SNL skits – the ones that start out funny and then crash and burn miserably. There was only one that elicited a few chuckles, where Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber play overzealous parents who homeschool their son but want to provide him with as realistic a high school experience as possible. Even then, the ending fizzled. The rest of the skits were tedious exercises in “shocking” topics such as diarrhea, speed dating, teen drama, menstruation, and a blind date that winds up in some sort of racist farce.
Each segment unfolded to new depths of banality, with the reactions of the audience ranging from uncomfortable squirming to outright cringing. The scene in the supermarket was just stupid, as the audience had to listen to Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin say dirty words over an intercom for about five minutes longer than what should have been a one-minute dialogue. However, nothing was as insipid as the running gag involving a naked woman with cheap gadgets glued to her midsection that was supposed to mimic an iPhone (she is a product ingeniously called an iBabe). The fact that Richard Gere had to anchor such a skit shows me that he must owe a lot of money to a lot of powerful people. In comparison, Manos: The Hands of Fate looks Felliniesque.
In watching all these A-listers (and on down the relevancy scale) act as straight as possible in front of stunts such as a leprechaun tied to a chair or a superhero hiding under a table, I sensed a smugness hovering over the entire movie. If the audience didn’t laugh, it was because they weren’t hipster enough to grasp the nihilistic abandon of its subversion (or some such Hollywood PR rubbish). Where it should have been smart, it was sophomoric; where it could have been hilarious, it was inane. If it was meant to skewer industry cliches such as the movie pitch or the teen coming-of-age sequence, the humor was tired and the pacing was irritatingly slow, like a bad joke that you realize is bad halfway through and desperately try to save by incoherent rambling. If anything, it shows that Hollywood has way too much money and its stars can be talked into just about anything with the right amount of sycophancy. (F)