Zero stars (out of four)
There’s just one use for Movie 43, apart from it being ground into the landfill that it deserves to become sooner rather than later.
It provides me with a handy new answer to a question I’m often asked: “What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?”
Movie 43 is now the cinematic low-water mark for me — and yes, I’ve seen Freddy Got Fingered, Troll 2 and An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. No one should be surprised that this one wasn’t previewed for critics.
It’s not a “good bad” movie, the kind where you laugh at the incompetence on display. It’s simply a terrible movie, the kind that makes you feel lousy for having spent money to see it.
As its generic title implies, Movie 43 is nothing more than factory discharge, a series of sketches all attempting to one-up one another for bad taste.
Employing every conceivable gross-out gag, from feces tossing to testicle waving, the film is cynically designed to make you cringe, hurl, avert your eyes or cry out — and possibly all four at once.
And when it’s not being simply rude, it’s pushing the needle into the red zone of despicable behaviour, with “jokes” about incest, sexual molestation, and child and animal abuse.
Need an example? There’s a sketch and also in-movie ads for a new product called the iBabe, which is a music player installed in the body of a naked woman. The product runs into bad PR because a fan is installed in the woman’s vagina and teen boys are mangling their members by using the “device” for supposedly unintended purposes.
Movie 43’s gigantic cast features two Oscar winners (Kate Winslet and Halle Berry) and two current nominees (Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts), plus a host of other people who should have known better, and who should now fire their agents.
Take a deep breath for a roll call that also includes, amongst many others: Emma Stone, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Josh Duhamel, Greg Kinnear, Uma Thurman, Seann William Scott, Liev Schreiber, Kate Bosworth, Jason Sudeikis, Terrence Howard, Jack McBrayer and Dennis Quaid.
Your laugh mileage may vary (God forbid), but we can all agree on one thing: this is the biggest waste of talent in cinema history.
Couldn’t something genuinely amusing have been made with this much talent? Sadly, this is the best that the 17 credited writers could come up with.
No fewer than 12 directors were involved in the four-year production of Movie 43, the main one being Peter Farrelly, who also produces.
Along with his brother Bobby, Farrelly helped turn gross-out into gold in 1998 with There’s Something About Mary, a genuinely funny film that inspired a host of not-so-funny imitators.
It’s been downhill for Farrelly ever since, and he really hits the bottom of the dung heap this time. Movie 43 even recycles Mary’s most outrageous bit, the use of semen as hair gel.
Farrelly is trying desperately to recapture the gross-out comedy crown he once owned. Everybody else involved in this sad excuse for entertainment is attempting to be both crude and funny, a really tough combo to pull off.
It says volumes about Movie 43 that the two genuinely funny crude guys in the cast, Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy and Ted, and Johnny Knoxville of Jackass, are amongst the most restrained people here.
Do they instinctively understand that even gross-out comedy has its limits? Or are they standing back to let the amateurs knock themselves out?
Either way, you don’t want to waste your money finding out.
I give Movie 43 zero stars as not just a critical rating, but also as a public service.