Imagine an anthology of the worst skits ever to air on “Saturday Night Live,” then imagine something even less funny, much raunchier and altogether much, much worse. Only then will you be ready for the jaw-dropping disaster that is “Movie 43,” an appalling misfire that tries and fails to evoke the anything-goes spirit of such ’70s sketch-comedy concoctions as “The Groove Tube” and “Kentucky Fried Movie.” Morbidly curious gawkers may be drawn by reports of humiliations gamely endured by various members of the star-studded cast, but that won’t slow the pic’s fast fade from theaters.
Because, really, there are just so many tickets one can sell by exhibiting Hugh Jackman with a pair of huge testicles growing out of his neck, or exposing Halle Berry tricked out with immense prosthetic breasts. On the other hand, these and other cringe-worthy spectacles on display here may be enough to generate modest homevid sales.
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Armies of directors and writers collaborated on this compost heap of lowbrow buffoonery, unfettered vulgarity, sophomoric satire and stomach-turning scatological gags. (How scatological? At one point, a sweet young thing played by Anna Faris begs her boyfriend to defecate on her — and while he doesn’t actually get around to it, that doesn’t mean the audience is spared a floodtide of fecal matter.) Seldom have so many labored so strenuously to produce so few real laughs. Indeed, the overall level of humor suggests the filmmakers did not wish to unduly tax their audience with anything as demanding as the subtle wit and sophisticated wordplay of “Date Movie” and “Meet the Spartans.”
The sketches range from merely juvenile (Richard Gere’s electronics exec is befuddled by news that male teens want to have sexual congress with his “iBabe,” a media player designed to resemble a naked woman) to discomfortingly distasteful (a young girl experiences her first period, and the sight of blood discombobulates males of all ages around her), with the occasional descent into the outright revolting (the aforementioned excremental explosion).
There is something like a framing device, involving an increasingly desperate would-be scriptwriter (Dennis Quaid) who pitches ideas to a studio executive (Greg Kinnear) while holding the latter at gunpoint. While sitting through “Movie 43,” and feeling minutes pass like hours, one can cannot help wondering whether a similar scenario unfolded in real life when the producers of this project set out in search of a greenlight.
Some movies should be reviewed; others should simply be warned about. “Movie 43” is now showing at theaters and drive-ins everywhere. Beware.