By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
If this is a movie, I’m an astronaut.
And if I’m an astronaut, maybe I can find a way to orbit the planet and somehow avoid watching whatever the heck it is.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie makes Dumb and Dumber look like “Smarter and Smartest.”
No, I can’t make the claim that this is the worst movie ever made. That just wouldn’t be fair. After all, I haven’t seen every movie ever made, so how could I be sure?
Let’s just say that it feels that way while you’re watching it.
This execrable hodgepodge, apparently represented by the law firm of Meaningless and Tasteless, presents itself as bargain-basement moviemaking. But it actually registers as a level or three lower than that.
I guess you could describe its humor as “absurdist,” but it doesn’t really deserve that respectable a label. It’s nonsensical and incoherent, proudly crude, unashamedly gross, and monumentally unfunny.
(Are we having fun yet?)
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is written and produced and directed — to use all those terms very loosely — by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, who also star as versions of themselves, two guys who are given a billion dollars by the sinister Schlaaang Corporation, which is run by angry, threatening gangster investors Robert Loggia and William Atherton, to make a movie.
But they squander it on an unreleasable film and then, their lives at stake, skip town in search of a way to raise the money and pay it back.
Their scheme to raise the billion: rehab a dying mall.
It may seem strange to say that the “plot” is even more empty and idiotic than it sounds, but that is indeed the case.
There isn’t a laugh or a smile to be found, just a mercifully brief hour and a half of excruciating awfulness.
It’s an adaptation of sorts of a sketch comedy TV series on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim,” called “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” — (wow, a show with a review of itself in the very title: it must be terrific if they say so, huh?) — that’s aimed at their loyal fans, an extended inside joke that we wish they would take outside.
What we think of as lowbrow comedy is miles higher than the brand on display here. The kind of extreme or exaggerated humor that may pass muster in a TV sketch just doesn’t cut it, to say the least, in a feature film. Worse, it stops the narrative in its tracks. Not that it was moving along at any kind of clip anyway.
Like the television show, this is a cold blast of surrealistic and satirical humor with celebrity cameos, and such celebs as Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Jeff Goldblum, and Will Forte do actually show up to lend the film a dash of comedic respectability. On paper, at least. In reality, they play down to the bottom-swimming level of the rest of this masterpeiece.
In the same way that some of the movies that have emerged from TV’s “Saturday Night Live” have hit bumps in the road because they were created to be short sketches and struggled in being stretched to feature length, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie does not come close to surviving the leap to the big screen.
Moreover, most of those SNL-inspired films, even the worst ones, look absolutely brilliant compared to this one.
It’s low-budget, which is fine. It’s disgusting and twisted, which is okay if that’s what you’re after. It breaks the fourth wall, which is a valid approach. And it’s alternative, which is perfectly acceptable.
But it’s not in any way, not for a moment, funny or amusing or edgy or charming or even vaguely clever. Not obliquely, not directly. No way, no how. You will, unless you’re a glutton for punishment, either loathe it or hate it.
So let’s make it a nice, round 0 stars out of 4 — only because that’s as low as I’m allowed to go — for Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, a comedy worth approximately a billion dollars less than the one described in the title.