By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Here’s the formula the way I see it:
— Inoffensive and funny equals funny.
— Offensive and funny also equals funny.
— But offensive and unfunny merely equals offensive.
The contemptible compilation comedy Movie 43 is simply offensive.
The final score? Movie 43, me zip. That’s in terms of laughter and enjoyment and appreciation: Zip.
Here’s a movie boasting “the biggest cast ever assembled” hell-bent on demonstrating that more is less. It succeeds, big-time. Make that small-time.
Movie 43, which about 43 celebrities parade through, features a star-studded, eclectic ensemble cast -– including but not limited to Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Kate Winslet, Dennis Quaid, Elizabeth Banks, Common, Jason Sudeikis, Greg Kinnear, Justin Long, Terrence Howard, Seth MacFarlane, Anna Faris, Josh Duhamel, Kate Bosworth, Kieran Culkin, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxvbille, Naomi Watts, Seann William Scott, and Uma Thurman. In other words, comedy veterans as well as visitors from the dramatic realm, a spirited mix of the very famous, the sort-of famous, the soon-to-be-famous, and a few celebrity couples.
Did I mention that a lot of them are famous?
It’s a raunchy, taboo-tweaking, R-rated (and a hard R it is) assemblage of loosely intertwined comedy vignettes -– most of which would have been summarily rejected by “Saturday Night Live” — that are obliquely and lackadaisically connected.
If there is any line of narrative continuity, it’s the wraparound, which involves the attempts of Quaid to get a movie greenlighted.
You know that line between funny and offensive that an off-color joke or bit or gag has to stop short of so as not be demeaning? Well, this movie lives on the far side of that line.
Producer and director Peter Farrelly, working alone rather than with his brother (Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, The Three Stooges), did the film in bits and pieces over the course of five years, shooting short segments whenever his actors became available.
With shock value seemingly the only thing on his comedy agenda and given the doodle-pad nature of this sorry enterprise, it’s easy to imagine Bobby Farrelly -– or anybody else, for that matter — wanting to sit this one out.
The script by the committee of Steve Baker, Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, and Matt Portnesy features a dozen storylines, each handled by a different director: in alphabetical order, Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, director Farrelly (who handled two blind-date-related segments), Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, and Jonathan van Tulleken.
The anything-for-a-laugh approach, with the makers more or less scoffing at the notion of character development or emotional engagement, has a deadening effect that kicks in pretty early on. And we spend much of our viewing time wondering just how the makers talked the performers into stooping quite so low.
Maybe it was the chance to be filthy and irreverent in ways they wouldn’t dare in any respectable narrative film.
Anyway, we’ll film ½ star out of 4 for this loose anthology of self-contained, unabashedly tasteless, and startlingly unfunny comedy sketches. Movie 43 is, even this early in 2013, a strong candidate for the worst movie of the year.