Film Review – Movie 43

Movie 43 (MA)

Directed by: Various

Starring: Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Johnny Knoxville, Emma Stone, many more

Three stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Several years in the making, not previewed for critics, box office bomb, unceremoniously derided by critics when they eventually saw it and labelled it one of the worst films ever made. Those that have not checked it out  have been urged to avoid at all costs. All signs point to “Beware of Movie 43!!” What could possibly be so bad about a star-studded collection of off-colour skits strung together for a 90 minute adult version of Saturday Night Live?  To be fair, the extended production was not an issue of funding or studio interference (usual signs of a dud film), but the only way the plethora of A-listers were able to participate. The numerous directors involved had to wait until the in-demand stars had a lull in their schedules before they could commit. But getting past the only reported production hurdle, one’s interest is piqued at what has angered so many viewers. Anyone who had seen the envelope pushing red band trailer would have known what they were in for.

Movie 43 is the gross out humour without the heart, the shock tactics without the charm. Unabashedly cheap, low brow and childish. This hated effort aims for laughs exclusively with poop, fart, menstruation and masturbation jokes. Those expecting anything else need not apply. The good news, for those that have not yet closed down this review in disinterest or disgust yet, is that some of it is actually funny. Side splittingly funny, in fact. My film critic peers may demand I cut up my film reviewer card into 100 pieces, burn them then return the ashes, but I laughed a lot.

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Desperate hack screenwriter Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid) tries to convince studio executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear) to buy his hand scribbled script for a new comedy. Each skit he describes from his script, we get to witness acted out by some of Hollywood’s finest. This rarely amusing framing device is fairly pointless and a weak window into these mini-comedies. Two love struck 20-somethings (Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin) express their feelings in a verbally graphic manner with elderly witnesses. A teenage girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) experiences her first period in a house full of insensitive boys and men. A blind date becomes super awkward for a woman (Kate Winslet) when it is revealed the man (Hugh Jackman) has a scrotum dangling from his neck. That is just to name a few.

It is not smart or witty, but the cast are fearless and game. It is admirable that Oscar nominee Naomi Watts took a few days out of her schedule to awkwardly woo her on-screen teenage son. And that Anna Faris, who hasn’t appeared in anything good lately anyway, would risk putting the final nail in her career’s coffin by asking her husband to romantically poop on her. And that the stunning Halle Berry would allow herself to look completely ridiculous in a faux cosmetically enhanced state – and mix guacamole with her right breast. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it. The jokes are rude, crude, disgusting and absolutely childish, but everyone involved just wants to have a bit of fun. And it shows. It is great to see this handful of respected actors, who mostly appear in dramas, lighten up for once. Besides, where else are you going to get a crudely animated cat masturbating furiously over pics of Josh Duhamel in a Fatal Attraction style comedy quickie? Not all the skits work (the superhero speed dating one is imaginative and yet it had the most jokes fall flat), the build up is often much funnier than the punchline, and sometimes it just comes off as a big old mess, but even if your face muscles don’t even twitch, this is quite an experience.

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