As the closing credits roll on his debut feature “Freddy Got Fingered,” the last words uttered onscreen by Tom Green are “What the fuck am I doing?” — as accurate and unfettered a confession by a filmmaker as you could hope for, especially at the end of what is one of the most brutally awful comedies ever to emerge from a major studio.
It isn’t simply the flagrant, endless leaps into the netherworld of crudeness that define Green’s pic: After all, flagrant crudeness is the comic’s metier, what his MTV-reared fans expect and what he apparently loves doing most. Rather, the film is thoroughly derailed by a complete lack of comic shape, rhythm and sensibility, more like the world’s most expensive home movie than anything close to the standards of even the most lowest-common-denominator Hollywood pics geared to young auds.
This is very possibly the fitting end of the gross-out comedy cycle, commercially undone by both an R rating that’s actually generous and inevitably deadly word-of-mouth. After being fingered, “Freddy” will collect dust in the video bins.
The crazed antics of Jim Carrey in his Farrelly brothers phase and the potty humor of “Deuce Bigalow” seem quaint relics of yore compared with Green’s extreme obsession with human and animal body parts, which the comic hopes will fill the bill for young guys looking for the latest insane thing at the multiplex –that’s if those guys are able to slip past the multiplex ticket guardians.
But beyond Green extending his outrageous stunts from the limits of MTV to the bigscreen, there’s a half-examined misanthropy running through the pic, along with a wide-open glee at humiliating fine actors, that leaves a truly acrid aftertaste.
Things begin innocently enough with Gord Brody (Green), still living at home in Oregon with parents, Jim (Rip Torn) and Julie (Julie Hagerty), but working up his confidence to go to L.A. and become an animator. Jim dismisses Gord’s love as “doodling,” but happily sends his eldest son to SoCal — even if this makes younger, straight-arrow bro Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas) jealous.
En route, Gord stops at a stud farm to fondle a horse’s notably erect penis. In L.A., the penile imagery continues as Gord, working at the Hollywood Cheese Sandwich Co., hoists a giant sausage between his legs and stomps around on the assembly line. Busting past security, Gord gets into the office of animation mogul Mr. Davidson (Anthony Michael Hall) and pitches his stupid cartoon ideas about animal characters, which Davidson — virtually the only sane character in the movie — tells him are, well, stupid.
Defeated, Gord drives back to Portland with Davidson’s advice (“Get inside your animals”) in his head. Gord stops by the highway at the sight of a dead deer, guts it and crawls inside it, wearing the deer carcass until he’s hit head-on by a big-wheeler.
Gord, alas, isn’t dead, and reinserts himself back into the Oregon household, where the first thing he does is build a skateboard ramp in the driveway. His pal Darren (Harland Williams) tries out the ramp and breaks his leg — which is an invitation for Gord not to call an ambulance, but to lick the protruding bloody bone and gristle in Darren’s knee.
At the hospital, Gord flirts with (in what may or may not be a joke) nurse Betty (Marisa Coughlan), only to discover that she’s in a wheelchair. Visiting Darren, Gord notices that his neighbor is a woman about to give birth.
He yanks the baby out of the womb, cuts the umbilical cord with his teeth and revives the unresponsive infant by flinging it around on the cord like a lasso, spraying blood everywhere.
Viewers who can take no more will miss such nifty items as Betty demanding sex from Gord by asking him to whip her hard on her knees, she in turn fondling the remnants of Gord’s own 28-year-old umbilical cord still attached to his belly, and a restaurant scene that ends with Green shooting seltzer all over the room for no reason. They’ll also miss the bits where Gord plays on a keyboard with strings of meat attached to his fingers and prances around in a suit worn backward.
All of these episodes are disjointed, with no order or sense that one thing is connected to anything else, other than all of it pushing Torn’s Jim to the limit, when he pulls down his pants and wiggles his tush in front of Gord.
Gord’s final attempt to destroy his family works, when he accuses Dad in a therapy session of “fingering” Freddy. This has the extremely unfunny effect of sending Freddy, who’s 25, to live in an institution for sexually molested children.
Ugliness is the last refuge of the comedian who has run out of ideas, and it’s here when the true nature of the script by Green and Derek Harvie becomes clear.
Green is such an abysmal actor that he can’t even play himself. He’s an arrested adolescent whose proper place in a movie is the kind of in-and-out cameos he gives to Shaquille O’Neal and Drew Barrymore. At feature length, and in nearly every scene, he’s the human form of the car alarm that won’t stop.
Sadder, though, is watching a fine actor like Torn literally sent into the goo, not so much directed as prodded with a pitchfork. Credits report animals weren’t harmed. The state of film comedy is another matter.