FREDDY GOT FINGERED
Director: Tom Green
Cast: Tom Green, Rip Torn, Julie Hagerty, Eddie Kaye Thomas
MPAA Rating: (for crude sexual and bizarre humor, and for strong language)
Running Time: 1:33
Release Date: 4/20/01
Review by Mark Dujsik
Tom Green is much more intelligent than most people give him credit for, and he is far more intelligent than this movie allows him to be. Of course, he directed, co-wrote, and stars in Freddy Got Fingered, so that would mean that Green himself prevented any display of intelligence on his part. Why? Iím not sure.
In fact, Iím not sure exactly what I witnessed (the movie is closer to a train wreck than anything else, hence the specificity of the verb) for the ninety minutes Greenís project (itís not actually a movie, hence the new noun) ran through the projector. Is it a gross-out comedy? Well, itís gross, to be sure, but itís not funnyóat all. Is it an experimental film? Itís assembled quite haphazardly, but considering that Green is a first-time director, this is most likely due to a lack of competence. Is it a return to surrealist filmmaking? It does owe more to the 1929 short "Un Chien Andalou," in which a pigís eyeball is sliced, than it does to Thereís Something About Mary or the slew of raunchy comedies that have been released since (just think of recent ones: Say It Isnít So, Tomcats, Joe Dirt, etc., etc., ad nauseam). But still, (hereís something I never thought Iíd say) itís not absurd enough to pass as surrealism.
Thatís essentially whatís missing. Green is a performance artist, not a film director or writer or actor. His work on MTVís "The Tom Green Show" relied on improvisation. It needed the spontaneous reactions of victims. His stunts are not shocking because of what he is doing; itís shocking because he is doing it in front of or to unknowing spectators. In Freddy, itís all scripted, and therefore, loses the shock value. When actors are paid to take his abuse and know exactly whatís coming, itís not funny or shocking. Itís sadistic.
What else can you say about a movie where Rip Torn is caught with his pants down and later spewed (there is no other word to describe it) with elephant semen. Or a young boy who is hurt many times and bleeds profusely. This gag doesnít work because there is no progression to the levels of injury, so when his final boo-boo which ends the movie comes around, itís too extreme to get a laugh. Also, itís not set up well enough. Actually, none of the gags are set up properly. Within ten minutes of the opening, Green has randomly pulled over to the side of the road to help guarantee the procreation of a horse. Same goes with the scene where Green slits open a deerís carcass and wears it. Once again, not funny because the set up was lame (someone tells him to "get inside the animals" to understand them more and hence draw them better), and itís conclusion, despite what Greenís character says, is expected. I did enjoy the look an owl gives him, though.
If you still care, the plot involves Gord Brodyís (Green) quest to be himself in the face of an emotionally constipated and psychologically abusive father (Torn). He wants to become a cartoon animator, but his dad just wants him to get a job and get out of his basement. Somewhere along the line, Gord meets Betty (Marisa Coughlan, who will never find legitimate work again), whose legs are paralyzed and thoroughly enjoys a good bamboo-cane leg-whipping. Oh, she also has an oral fixation which really just makes things worse and her character as far away from being funny as she could possibly be. And when it comes to the question of whether or not Freddy got fingered, the movie manages to take a jackhammer to rock bottom to make light of child molestation.
The one thing that works is the undertone of rage that Green must feel towards his father (if youíve seen "The Tom Green Show," you may be aware that his parents are the butt of some very risquť jokes that truly come from a painful place). Itís something true, and thatís where all great comedy comes from. Now, if he had just stayed focused on that, we may have had something.
You either get Tom Green, or you donít. I do, but the things that make him funny are not present here. In one of his shows, Green started rumors that he and Monica Lewinsky (remember her?) were an item. It was a pitch perfect "happening" with a clever conclusion. I have a feeling that Freddy Got Fingered is the beginning of a larger joke whose punchline will be revealed soon enough. However the movie itself is just thatóa joke.
Note: I was not accurate when I said there was nothing completely absurd about this movie. The R-rating it received is insulting. I must thank Green for finally revealing the complete lack of reasoning behind the MPAAís rating system and also for killing off the gross-out comedy genre. There is no way a movie could surpass anything seen in Freddy, and if one somehow does find a way to do this, God help us all.
Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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