Mark Reviews Movies

Movie 43


1 Star (out of 4)

Directors: Steven Brill, Peter Farrelly, Will Graham, Steve Carr, Griffin Dunne, James Duffy, Jonathan van Tulleken, Elizabeth Banks, Patrik Forsberg, Brett Ratner, Rusty Cundieff, James Gunn

Cast: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Jeremy Allen White, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, Kieran Culkin, Emma Stone, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Bell, John Hodgman, Leslie Bibb, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBrayer, Aasif Mandvi, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Patrick Warburton, Jimmy Bennett, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Duhamel

MPAA Rating: R (for strong pervasive crude and sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, language, some violence and drug use)

Running Time: 1:37

Release Date: 1/25/13

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Review by Mark Dujsik | January 26, 2013

There come times in people's lives when they must admit something they never thought they would have to admit. In that spirit, Movie 43 forces me to admit that the sight of Hugh Jackman with testicles on his neck made me chuckle. Now, though, the question is: Once the scrotum is on Jackman's neck, where is there to go?

The short segments of Movie 43, a collection of short sketches assembled by strained connections, often have this problem. The formula of a joke is simple, reliable, and inarguable: a setup followed by a punch line. The punch line, for example, is that Jackman's character has testicles where they shouldn't be.

There is no setup to the gag, save for a short scene in which a woman (Kate Winslet) is preparing for and dreading a blind date. She sees a photo of the Jackman character on the cover of a magazine, looking handsome and debonair in his scarf. Almost immediately upon arriving at the restaurant, he removes the scarf. Minutes follow after the punch line arrives.

Soup can drip on his chin; a stray hair can drop into the bowl. A baby can sit on his lap, and he can lean in to give his date a kiss on the forehead. There is simply nowhere to go with this gag that surpasses that original shock. It's a premise without material, which is, for the most part, an apt description of the movie as a whole.

One of those sketches involves parents (Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts) who homeschool their son (Jeremy Allen White) while trying to give him an accurate experience of what school is actually like, from the teacher who can't be bothered to remember the students' names to bullying. Some of the gags are amusing in theory, but others—the dad tying his son to a flagpole in the front yard—are just cruel. It's best to only mention that a pair of bits involves the parents presenting him with awkward sexual moments.

Others are similarly devoid of laughs. A woman (Anna Faris) interrupts her boyfriend's (Chris Pratt) marriage proposal to ask a most disgusting request of him—one for which I cannot be bothered to come up with a euphemism. Again, the request is the punch line, but the sketch just keeps going and going with scatological references.

Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone play a pair of demented ex-lovers whose obscene insults and flirtations are broadcast over the public address system of supermarket. There's actually no joke there. In another, Richard Gere plays the CEO of a company that has developed a new portable music player that looks exactly like a naked woman and cannot quite grasp why there's a problem with the placement of a fan in the devices nether regions. The scenario is simply too convoluted to make any sense, let alone draw any humor from it. Like these others, a sketch about a psychotic animated cat, which appears in the middle of the credits for no discernible reason, would have been best omitted entirely.

Aside from thankfully short fake commercials, the remaining six (Yes, there are that many, and yes, it feels like it) are mixed bags at best. The idea of Batman (Jason Sudeikis) foiling his sidekick Robin's (Justin Long) attempts to enjoy a speed dating session has promise, but the sketch's mind is so far in the gutter (Batman ogles up the skirt of Kristen Bell as Supergirl and describes the view) that it's obnoxiously juvenile. A teenage girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) has her first period in a room full of clueless males (There is one laugh when her date, played by Jimmy Bennett, calls 9-1-1 and asks why the operator is laughing), and Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant use a game of Truth or Dare to liven up a blind date (The first two dares, which use the surroundings of a restaurant, are solid, but then it quickly jumps into the absurdity of tattoos and plastic surgery).

That really leaves only two sketches in Movie 43 that work well enough. In one, a guy (Johnny Knoxville) gives his roommate (Seann William Scott) a foul-mouthed leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his birthday so that they can get his pot of gold, and in the other, a high school basketball coach (Terrence Howard) undermines the clichés of the inspirational locker-room speech. The whole, wildly uneven mess is tied together by a pitch session at a Hollywood studio in which, at one point, Dennis Quaid holds Greg Kinnear at gunpoint to sell his character's collection of short scenes, and it is the only genuinely honest moment in the movie.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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