When it comes to comedy, taste (both personal and within the genre itself) is always a factor. What makes one person laugh may cause another to cringe. It’s all a matter of preference. So when dealing with a film like Movie 43, one has to take into consideration that ethereal concept of predilection. Most members of the viewing audience will choke on how horribly unfunny and forced it all is. Others will sync up with its anarchic spirit and celebrate its desire to offend as well as entertain. You’ll either love it or loathe it. Color us in the latter category. Most definitely.
The vignette-oriented narrative centers around a screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) pitching a movie idea to an unimpressed studio executive (Greg Kinnear). Among the scenes he outlines are a frantic first date between a pretty lady (Kate Winslet) and a man (Hugh Jackman) with an unfortunate birth defect. Then we watch as a couple (Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts) explain how they home-school their teenage son (Jeremy Allen White). Next, a man (Chris Pratt) hoping to propose to his fiancé (Anna Faris) learns her daunting sexual secret while a grocery store clerk (Kieran Culkin) has a surreal conversation with his girlfriend (Emma Stone).
A company that makes a naked lady MP3 player has a hard time convincing its CEO (Richard Gere) that the product is defective while Robin (Justin Long) and Batman (Jason Sudeikis) screw up a speed dating event. A commercial arguing that machines are filled with kids leads to a middle school date between a boy (Jimmy Bennett) and a girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) getting her first period. In another sequence, some dude (Johnny Knoxville) captures a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his best friend’s (Seann William Scott) birthday. Then, a blind date between two strangers (Stephen Merchant, Halle Berry) goes gonzo while a basketball coach (Terrence Howard) tries to convince his team that skin color alone will guarantee the outcome of the championship game.
Finally, a man’s (Josh Duhamel) animated cat makes life a living hell for his girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks).
Long in gestation (the film took several years to make, mostly because no one wanted to do so) and short on wit, originality, or brains, Movie 43 is not an outright abomination. Instead, it’s a significant waste of talent taken to extremes by filmmakers as diverse as Brent Ratner, Steven Brill, Griffin Dunne, and Peter Farrelly, among others. It’s barely even a motion picture, forced together like a hackneyed homage to such anarchic anthologies as Kentucky Fried Movie. Unfortunately, those sleazy ’70s efforts had the non-caring customers of the drive-in to provide a profit. Here, the viewer is left holding the barf bag as bodily fluids (and the slang used to describe same) are cast about in a careless, random fashion.
To call it all juvenile and lowbrow would insult the young and the idiotic. Instead, it’s a callous, calculated gross out where name recognition (“Look! Richard Gere is saying naughty things!”) is supposed to substitute for smarts. Rumor has it that many famous actors were approached, and many said no. They were the wise ones. The individuals who appear here acquit themselves, but only of the crime of being professional. Clearly no one had any real idea during the production of just how stupid and shallow their snippets would make them appear.
Movie 43 may think of itself as an amiable affront to your concept of decency. It’s really just a bad idea handled in a hackneyed manner.
The Blu-ray includes an alternate cut of the film and a deleted short.