Saturday, 26 January 2013

Review: MOVIE 43

Arriving with what must be the most absurdly starry cast of any recent comedy film, the enigmatic Movie 43 is a collection of sketches from big name directors hung together with the loosest of framing devices: these are all on… the… internet? At least that seems to be the idea. The weak linking device suggests some kids are looking up said movie and stumble across this stuff.

To call it a hit and miss affair is misleading; it is more of a shit and miss affair. There is not a single entry in the anthology that aims beyond taboo-transgressing rubbish. It is not aiming for satire. It is not even aiming for smart. Its only intention is to coax a begrudging laugh from you by fair means or foul.

And so, the initial joy of seeing the likes of Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman or Naomi Watts appearing in material they would never normally be seen in soon passes. What you are left with after the initial dazzling is a series of skits that barely justify their running time and, with the exception of one or two, don’t know when, or how, to end.

The occasional concept shows a spark of perverted genius and the odd laugh is extorted by seeing just how far things can be pushed. On that front the sketch about a home-schooled child, which features Watts and Liev Schreiber as inappropriately hectoring parents, pushes the limits of taste and just about gets away with it. A sketch about a black basketball team in the 1950s receiving a stirring team talk from their coach (Terrence Howard) is also a highlight. A few are momentarily enlivened by good delivery or stoic performances, such as those from Gere, Curb Your Enthusiasm’s J.B. Smoove, Chloë Grace Moretz and Stephen Merchant.

Some start interestingly but go nowhere and end as abruptly as they began. Peter Farrelly’s skit featuring Winslet and Jackman on a blind date is a prime example. Others, like Farrelly’s skit featuring Merchant and Berry on a blind date, have the route and a punchline mapped out but lose steam along the way.

A few (featuring Emma Stone, Anna Faris, Seann William Scott, Jason Sudeikis, Justin Long, Kristen Bell and Johnny Knoxville among others) should have been left on the drawing board – or, more likely, whatever burger wrapper they were crudely scrawled on.

Its biggest saving grace comes in the middle of the end credits as a result of James Gunn’s genuinely innovative, very funny blend of live action and animation featuring Josh Duhamel and Elizabeth Banks (who also directs another segment) and a cartoon cat. It efficiently skewers the Garfield/Alvin and the Chipmunks mould with filthy enthusiasm as Duhamel’s cat Beezel grows jealous of his relationship with Banks.

It is weightless, nutritionless comedy that revels in its lowest common denominator status without even any of the hollow emotion of its more narrative siblings to get you on side with its crudeness. Every chuckle it elicits feels like a dagger in the heart of comedy but, as the film’s base raison d’être seems to validate, any laugh is still a laugh.


1 comment:

  1. Just terrible, terrible, and terrible. Not funny and almost painful to watch as it seems like everybody involved are straining themselves for a laugh or two. Sadly, it barely works. Good review Ross.