Movie 43 is a collection of twelve short films starring twenty-five big name celebrities and not containing even a fraction of the laughs in its ninety-seven minute runtime. Connected in a disjointed manner and baiting the audience by a filled cast, this is one of the most unpleasant times at the movies one could have. Not since Garry Marshall's Valentine's Day have we seen so many shining actors succumb to such joylessly impotent material. Only this time, the material is not only impotent, but crass and well over the line of reprehensibility to the point where one shakes their head and assures their inner-self to walk out of the theater, walk to the nearest video store and rent as many foreign films as they can carry.
Before I go into any of the shorts, let's have a small and formal discussion about offensiveness. At no point was I ever personally offended by anything Movie 43 had to offer, mainly because its attitude to offend in every way possible was distracting and artificial. When looking at the past films I've seen that were deemed "offensive" by some, say, Team America: World Police, there was not only fun in its premise, but satire in its writing.
The outlying story concerns Dennis Quaid, a desperate man who is pitching a film idea to Greg Kinnear, a filmmaker looking to strike a deal. Quaid will be the one introducing all the setups to Kinnear, and we'll return to the two men after every short to watch Kinnear's contrived reaction and Quaid's facile justification. Let's begin.
In the first short, how funny is it to see Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman go on a date, with everyone being oblivious to the large scrotum attached to his neck except for Winslet? How funny is it when Jackman accidentally gets pubic hair in his soup, and puts his neck-scrotum on a baby's forehead? The next short shows Shameless's Jeremy Allen White as a homeschooled teenager being tormented and manipulated by his parents who are trying to recreate the dangers and turmoils of high school. When the poor kid's mother tries to instigate incestuous sex with her son I wanted to leave the theater and never turn back. But such a thing didn't happen.
We then watch Chris Pratt and Anna Faris, who are both married in real life, as a young couple on a romantic date when Faris pops the question; "will you poop on me?" she asks her boyfriend. I refuse to comment on where this goes. We are then given the awkward short of a supermarket employee (Kieran Culkin) confessing all the dirty and depraved details of his relationship to his ex-girlfriend (Emma Stone) while accidentally leaving the PA system on, as a crowd of anxious shoppers forms to watch this travesty unfold. Next comes Richard Gere as the boss of a corporation called "iBabe," which is a music player that is a lifelike naked woman, drumming up heaps of controversy. Then a speed dating event involving Batman and Robin (Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long) and Kristen Bell's "Supergirl," who is ostracized for having an unusually large vagina.
But probably the most heartless, offensive short of them all involves poor little Chloe Grace Moretz, who is hanging out with her boyfriend at his home when she experiences her first period. As she is dripping blood as if she has just been stabbed, her boyfriend's older brother (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) helplessly runs around the house screaming and searching for things to clog her uterus (frozen peas and a sponge, anyone?). What follows is a dopey Leprechaun predicament involving Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville, a basketball game where Coach Terrence Howard tells his team that because they are facing a white team and they are all black they will win the game, and we end on a shallow and empty-headed note as we expected.
The only short I neglected to mention is called "Truth or Dare," starring Halle Berry on a blind date where she initiates a game of truth or dare, which goes on to become a disgusting and repetitive affair. Berry crushes guacamole with her breast (a prosthetic, I assure you) and inserts extra-hot hot sauce into herself with a turkey baster.
I can't fathom the thought that I'm explaining this as elaborately as I am. Did the seventeen writers and twelve directors (among them, Peter Farrelly, Elizabeth Banks, Brett Ratner, and Bob Odenkirk) have an ounce of self-awareness to the humor that made their past films work? How did they manage to allow their cast of champions to succumb to demeaning, scatological, desperately unfunny filth? Before you claim the actors did the job for the money, I must inform you that Movie 43 is reported in only costing $6 million to make (excluding marketing costs which I'm willing to bet are ten times more), so that argument is almost wholly invalid. Were they genuinely smitten by the idea and the script of it all, or did they just feel that they all played their careers safe and decided to challenge their comfort zones and the harmless audiences' by attempting to push boundaries? I left the multiplex knowing three things today I had not previously grasped; number one, the spoof/skit genre is uniformly dead, and can not even be revived by a large group of directors, writers, and actors, all reliable and capable. Number two, to not get high hopes for a comedy with large names being released in the month of January. Number three, that in no way, shape, form, or instance is a woman's menstrual cycle funny and to victimize a fifteen year old actress is a simple act of cruelty.
On a final note, why is Movie 43 called "Movie 43?" Who knows, who cares?