I saw an opening-day matinee of Movie 43 at a theater where they hadn’t bothered to put the title on the marquee, with a sparse audience composed entirely of single men, one of whom was puffing on a no-tobacco e-cigarette throughout. When I got home, I discovered that a pigeon had shit in my hair. These are pretty much the perfect circumstances under which to view this sordid sketch-comedy gang bang, slippery with bodily fluids, from a screenplay that might have been written over an all-night poker game bull session, all loosely strung together by a framing device in which an aspiring, perspiring screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) holds a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) hostage, hoping to get his obscene magnum opus made. Movie 43 was shot over the course of years by a host of celebrity guest stars doubling as guest directors, though official attribution goes to Peter Farrelly, who handled the leadoff skit. Setting the tone of what’s to come, this involves Kate Winslet on a blind date with Hugh Jackman, who unwraps his cashmere scarf to reveal a neck goiter that looks like a scrotum and testes, which he proceeds dips into drawn butter. What else? More stars than It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! More body horror than the Cronenberg filmography combined with Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies! The blank, shoe-button eyes of Seth MacFarlane! It’s the kind of thing you feel you should laugh at through a phlegmy, hacking cough—and it does get laughs, if inconsistently, predictable given the circumstances of production. And where most movies fade within hours, I see a bright future ahead for this sui generis work, which will be passed around sixth grade classrooms by odd-smelling kids for years to come.
Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin DunneEmma Stone, Seann William Scott, Kristen Bell, Gerard Butler, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Anna Faris, Kate Winslet, Johnny KnoxvilleGreg Pritikin, Patrik Forsberg, Matt PortenoyPeter Farrelly, Charles B. Wessler, Ryan Kavanaugh, John PenottiRelativity Media