‘Movie 43’ Deserves A Second Look

When Movie 43 hit theaters this week 10 years ago, none of the cast promoted it. It wasn’t reviewed ahead of time for critics. Yet the posted boosted the “biggest cast ever assembled.” Granted, it had a lot going for it. Two Oscar Winners (Halley Berry and Kate Winslet) and action heroes like Gerard Butler and Hugh Jackman filled the cast along with Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott. Younger actors like Chloe Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were featured along with veteran actors like Richard Gere and Dennis Quaid. And there were so many more actors to name.

Produced on a small budget of $6 million, it made over $32 million. But the movie was clearly not one for high-brow humor. In a world where even the Aaron Seltzer/Jason Freidberg parodies had lost steam, the question was could a movie that was the brain child of Peter Farrelly still work. Yes and no. Critics hated the movie and it ended up winning Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay at the Razzies.

An anthology of comedy pieces, the movie does have some sketches that just fall flat. But looking back some of the sketches are very hilarious. The movie shown to American audiences has a frame story called “The Pitch” directed by Farrelly about a crazy screenwriter, Charles Wessler (Quaid), who is meeting with a studio executive, Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear), and starts pitching a bunch of story ideas that set up the other segments. This also features Common, Will Sasso and Seth MacFarlane as himself, but it doesn’t really work as well.

An alternative frame story showing in the United Kingdom and currently on Starz involved a teenager, Calvin Cutler (Mark L. Young) and his friend, J.J. (Adam Cagley), getting mad at Calvin’s little brother, Baxter (Devin Eash), and trying to get him to help search for a banned movie online called Movie 43. But at the same time, they tried to go behind his back to downloaded porn sites ripe with viruses and malware on his laptop. Steven Brill directs this segment and it doesn’t work as well as a frame story either.

The first story we see is “The Catch” in which Winslet plays a single businesswoman named Beth, who is on a blind date with a man, Davis (Jackman), who is the most eligible bachelor in town. But he has a growth on his chin that resembles a set of testicles. The gag is that even though Beth can see it, everyone else at the restaurnat seems oblivious as does Davis. There’s only so much you can do with a man who has a set of testicles on his neck.

Reportedly this was segment, also filmed by Farrelly, was used to help entice other actors and directors over the remainder of the movie’s lengthy production, which took years. Farrelly explained that they would film each segment over a week whenever the actors were available. Sometimes, they had to shut down production for several months.

The second segment “Homeschooled” is kinda clever as Robert and Samantha Miller (Leiv Schreiber and Naomi Watts) who seem to be two typical suburbanite parents homeschooling their son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White). But as we see, they make sure Kevin has the full high school experience, which includes Robert and Samantha doing everything from bullying, hazing and mocking him. Robert screams at Kevin like a P.E. coach playing basketball in the driveway and they even have a house party of which he’s not allowed to come to, even though he lives there. This one is directed by Will Graham and it’s one of the better ones.

The next one “The Proposition” has a great set-up but it falls to do what it should. Julie (Anna Faris) and Doug (Chris Pratt) are a couple in a relationship. He tries to propose but he discovers she’s a coprophiliac, meaning she wants him to defecate on her in the bedroom. After much consideration, he finally decides to go through. However, she wants to have foreplay and make it romantic but he can’t wait.

This is directed by Steve Carr. This seems to be setting up romcoms and the silly way Julie could want romance out of something that is so disgusting. The concept may have looked funny on paper but when it gets to Pratt literally messing himself, which isn’t as funny as it should be. While Faris and Pratt were married during the production, now it seems even more cringeworthy to see the two of them.

“Veronica” directed by Griffin Dunne, seems like a SNL skit of the episode in the mid-1990s. Neil (Kieran Culkin) is working the cash register at a supermarket when his ex, Veronica (Emma Stone), comes through the line. They begin to argue while he’s on the PA system and soon their discussion turns to flirtation and sex talk. It’s not funny at all. Dunne appeared in Amazon Women on the Moon, a similar movie released in 1987, as a doctor who lost a baby belonging to a young couple played by Peter Horton and Michelle Pfeiffer. It was hard to watch and so is this.

“iBabe” directed by Steven Brill, on the surface looks vulgar, but when you think about it, becomes more satirical. It involves a board room meeting where Gere plays the boss of the company discussing complications with “iBabes” which are life-like woman androids who function at MP3 players. They’re having a problem with their fans in the vaginal areas causing accidents. Apparently young men have been placing their hands and other body parts in the vginal areas and the fans are slicing off their penises and fingers.

Kate Bosworth plays Arlene, the only one to force her concerns over the sexism of the product, even though the bossman nor the tech, Brian (Jack McBrayer) or PR man, Robert (Aasif Mandvi) see a problem. It’s a commentary on how companies then and still do view woman negatively in their products. Arlene says they are having a huge backlash from women’s group because the iBabes but in the end, the company just decides to make a commercial warning of the dangers of the fan area.

“Supehero Speed Dating” is probably the worst. It looks like a MadTV skit crossed with a porn parody. Set at a speed-dating event, it features Batman (Jason Sudeikis) and Robin (Justin Long) with others such as Superman (Bobby Cannavale), Lois Lane (Uma Thurman), Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell). It’s boring and dull and drags the movie down.

“Machine Kids” written and directed by Jonathan van Tulleken is so nutso, it works as a parody of public services announcements. Apparently, it presents the concept that young kids work inside soft drink machines and photocopiers. And a voice-over narrator reminds us to treat these machines delicately because there are kids inside. On the surface, it seems like a silly idea. But when you think of a lot of products we use in this country are made in other countries probably with child labor, it drives home a point of American captilism.

“Middleschool Date” directed by Elizabeth Banks is intended to mock how men know nothing of the female body but it never does work as well as Moretz plays a tween named Amanda who starts mentstrating during a date at the house of her boyfriend, Nathan (Jimmy Bennett). Of course, Nathan, so ignorant, thinks a blood spot on the couch is a juice stain and when he finds out what’s going on, he thinks she’s bleeding to death.

Mintz-Plasse is wasting as the older brother, Mikey, and it’s obvious the actor won’t ever be remembered as anything by McLovin. There is a fake Tampax commercial in the vein of National Lampoon humor when two women go swimming and a shark attacks only one of them. It’s implied both swimmers were menstrating.

“Happy Birthday” is directed by Brett Ratner and knowing what we know now seems right up his alley as Butler plays a leprechaun captured by Pete (Knoxville) for his roommate, Brian (Scott). The leprechuan has a foul mouth and does nothing but swearing before attacking the two. It is funny to see Butler in such a silly role. The good part is the segment runs only as short (no pun intended) as it should.

“Truth or Dare” again directed by Farrelly has Berry as Emily who is on a date with Donald (Stephen Merchant) and they begin a game of truth or dare that goes very extreme resulting in both getting plastic surgery with outrageous results. The segment is dated and was dated by 2013 with a cameo by Snooki. There is something funny though about Emily being dared to blow out the candles on a birthday cake at a nearby table when it’s for a blind boy.

“Victory’s Glory” directed by Rusty Cundieff has Terrence Howard as Coach Jackson with an all-black basketball team in 1959. I like this one probably the best because it’s a parody of all the inspirational sports movies, especially those that deal with Civil Rights issues. Jackson’s motivation speeches just come down to reminding the players they’re black. And the white players on the other team are portrayed as the vicious racists they are always portrayed.

Cundieff is a talented director who made Fear of a Black Hat and Tales from the Hood, both of which focused on racial tensions as well as parody. Everything from the segment’s title to the way it’s filmed invokes all those movie-of-the-week/Remember the Titans movies we’ve been subjected to for the last 40 years is a nice parody.

The final segment shown during the mid-credits is “Beezel,” directed by James Gunn, who said he was coerced into doing it by Banks, who plays Amy. She’s beginning a relationship with Anson (Josh Duhamel) who has an over-attached animated cartoon cat, Beezel. I guess this segement was supposed to be a parody of Garfield and it does have a little bit of dark humor as no one can see that Beezel is a cartoon and resorts to violent tendecies against Amy.

Gunn also wrote this segment and it has a little bit of his strange mind as Beezel is more sexually attracted to Anson. He masturbates to Anson photos and even uses a hairbrush as a sex tory. I gues you could say he’s showing how some people treat their pets too much as humans. But the segment cops out an ending when it has Amy being attack by kids at a birthday party for attacking Beezel when he tries to run her over.

For the most part, the movie is mostly 40 percent enjoyable and when you realize it’s a hard-R movie, it’s brand of humor is intended. Anthology movies are always kinda hit or miss. Audiences in 2013 in the theaters probably had to slog through some of the worst segments that they hated the movie more. On DVD, cable TV and streaming, you can skip ahead easier. Critics who dismissed it were probably already biased going in.

The attempt by Farrelly and fellow producer Charles B. Wessler was to do a modern day Kentucky Fried Movie. They had even got Trey Parker and Matt Stone and David and Jerry Zucker interested in directing segments before backing out. The problem with Kentucky that was the same problem with the similar Amazon Women on the Moon was a lot of segments and sketeches didn’t really work.

Altogether 13 directors and 19 writers were involved. Some actors such as George Clooney flat out refused, while others were interested while it gave them a chance to work on roles that were different than what they were used to. However, after Gere was attached, he tried to back out by suggesting his part be filmed in New York City.

There were two segments cut. One is “Find Our Daughter” written and directed by Bob Odenkirk who is a private investigator interviewing a married couple played by Tony Shalhoub and Julianne Moore who have a daughter, Susie (Jordanna Taylor) seen in a DVD flashing her breast at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. And all other photos from her yearbook have her flashing her breasts as well.

Then there’s “The Apprentice” in which the late Alton Yelchin plays Wayne, a young assistant at a morgue who is a necrophiliac and has sex with a young woman (Maria Volk) brought in and is able to drink her back to life by having sex with her. I’ve seen “Find Our Daughter” and it’s really not that great but I have only seen bits and pieces of “The Apprentice.” which was written and directed by Steve Baker and Damon Escott.

Like I said, it’s not a great movie. Film critic Richard Roeper called it “the Citizen Kane of awful.” But sometimes, movie deserve a second look and there’s some humor to appreciate. I would much rather watch this than Jack and Jill or The Wrong Missy.

What do you think? Please comment.

Published by bobbyzane420

I'm an award winning journalist and photographer who covered dozens of homicides and even interviewed President Jimmy Carter on multiple occasions. A back injury in 2011 and other family medical emergencies sidelined my journalism career. But now, I'm doing my own thing, focusing on movies (one of my favorite topics), current events and politics (another favorite topic) and just anything I feel needs to be posted. Thank you for reading.

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