Opening with an apparently Justin Bieber-influenced Dennis Quaid making a desperate pitch to a movie studio middleman (Greg Kinnear), Movie 43 uses this as a launchpad to offer an assortment of shocking sketches chock full of A-list actors and actresses awash in poop jokes and dick jokes and fart jokes and more poop jokes in a striking effort to expose Hollywood for the way it routinely mistakes lowbrow aimlessness for clever hilarity. And just when you suspect it has gone and oddly forgotten the projectile vomit demographic, it offers a closing credits sequence that both mocks the sophomoric nature of the closing credits sequence itself and fulfills its projectile vomit quotient via an animated dog. Classic.
Uh, at least, I assume this is how the producers and directors responsible for Movie 43 pitched their film to this cavalcade of stars because otherwise I have no earthly idea what would have propelled Oscar winner and Oscar nominee, respectively, Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman to sign on for a sketch in which their blind date turns notably awkward when he is revealed to have a scrotum dangling from his neck that no one but her seems to notice or why Kristen Bell, a talented young comedienne, would have yearned to play a bit part that exists solely for Jason Sudeikis to sit under a cafe table and ogle her lady parts.
It’s not simply that these ideas are inherently juvenile, though they are, because juvenile can (and has been) funny, it’s that every sketch here is no better than a lifeless Saturday Night Live sketch where their supposed writers identify a single concept and hammer away at it without any idea of what to do with it once it has been presented. Johnny Knoxville kidnaps a leprechaun for Sean William Scott’s birthday. It is, it turns out, a leprechaun that swears every third word and threatens to cut off each guy’s balls. And……that’s it. He keeps threatening to cut off their balls – for five minutes. This sketch was directed by Brett Ratner. But that goes without saying.
The least worst short of the dozen is the single one, tellingly, that refrains from poop jokes and dick jokes and fart jokes and more poop jokes, though, make no mistake, it is foul-mouthed and disturbing. But, featuring Naomi Watts and Liev Schrieber, it has the common sense to employ a set-up and payoff, a skill which strangely seems beyond the grasp of most involved. (To be fair, Anna Faris and Chris Pratt’s short has a set-up and payoff but I will leave you to discover it on your own.) Even the overarching pitch between Quaid and Kinnear, which theoretically is meant to tie this calamity together, just sort of concludes when it hits a brick wall.
Maybe they avoided pesky set-ups and payoffs because, to paraphrase Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, they don’t know how to spell “set-ups and payoffs.” Maybe their sole intent was to break the previously thought-to-be-unbreakable record of The Watch for Most Dick Jokes In One Movie. Maybe they exclusively wanted to cater to the bros before hoes crowd, though the bros sitting to my right and behind me at the theater did not laugh anywhere near as much as one might expect. Maybe all the filmmakers wanted to make quick cash to finance full length features of their own featuring poop jokes and dick jokes and fart jokes and more poop jokes (and projectile vomit).
Let’s end on a positive note. Emma Stone. She saves face, even as she is forced to suck face with Kieran Culkin. Even in dreck that is depressingly beneath her class and grace, she easily settles into the part she is asked to play, rocks every line (“He was a wizard!”), sells every expression and makes you believe that although Movie 43 seems intent on killing comedy that the comedy of Emma Stone cannot be killed. She is just that funny.
Not that the delicate geniuses fortified in the Hollywood Hills who green-lit this flaming piece of trash will ever employ the necessary brain power to figure what the hell to do with her.