So Many Actors. So Many Stories. So Many Laughs.
I’ve credited Peter Farrelly as the director here but this is in fact a film made up of twelve individual segments with twelve separate directors: The Pitch, The Catch, Homeschooled, The Proposition, Veronica, iBabe, Super Hero Speed Dating, Machine Kids, Middleschool Date, Tampax, Happy Birthday, Truth Or Dare, Victory’s Glory and Beezel. That is, unless you’re outside the US, in which case, you don’t get The Pitch. Instead you’re given a weird net based skit about teenagers looking for a movie that supposedly ends the world. Before I press on, this won’t be in the style of a normal review, it can’t be. Unlike Coffee and Cigarettes, this is a series of short films by different respective cast and crew so I’ll briefly review each segment as a separate entity.
The Catch is the first sketch and stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet who have been set up on a blind date. Jackman’s character appears to be the perfect bachelor and no one can understand how he’s still single. Once the date begins, Jackman removes his scarf to reveal a pair of testicles hanging from his neck. Winslet does everything in her power to ignore this while baffled that no one else sees a problem with it. The jokes are based on the initial premise and the whole thing is incredibly two dimensional. The performances are surprisingly acceptable, the prosthetic ball bag is realistic and technically speaking it’s well filmed. It’s just not funny.
The second skit, Homeschooled, is actually one of the more amusing sequences. Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts play parents who are home-schooling their child, Jeremy Allen White but believe that high school should be the most horrific and emotionally scarring time of a young man’s life, so recreate the worst aspects of high school life. Moderately amusing, well-acted, shockingly uncomfortable but thankfully a reasonably satisfying punchline.
The Proposition is where it all starts to go so horribly wrong. Anna Faris and Chris Pratt have been a couple for a year and whilst out enjoying a picnic, Chris intends to propose to Anna. Unfortunately, before he can, Anna requests that he “poop on her.” This greatly unnerves and distresses Chris but wanting to please his partner, he agrees. The entire sketch is just a massive set up to someone uncontrollably shitting themself and not especially good. The leads do the best with the lines they’re given but absolutely nothing redeemable comes out of this sequence. Which is incredibly frustrating as I was pleased Faris managed to distance herself from her Scary Movie days and I really like Pratt, so seeing his involvement here is just mildly crushing.
Veronica is a surreal verbal exchange between exes Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone. She returns a crate of his possessions and the two back-and-forth between bad mouthing each other and seductively flirting, all of which is broadcast over a shop’s PA system. There are a few lines that brought a smile to my face and the performances are surprisingly intense considering the sub-par subject matter but I assume that was the whole point of the joke. It starts nowhere, it goes nowhere and it feels weird. But at least I wasn’t hideously offended throughout.
The next part explores an exec board discussion, headed by Richard Gere regarding their latest MP3 device, the iBabe. The titular product is a simple music playing device except for the fact that it looks and feels like a naked woman. The board discuss how to work around the mounting lawsuits made by young men who are having sex with the device and getting mangled on an internal cooling fan. It’s got nudity. The jokes are.. I don’t really remember any jokes. It’s got a few naked women and the males on the board don’t have a problem with this and one woman does. Literally nothing happens.
As a geek, Superhero Speed Dating was the biggest wasted opportunity. The general concept is that Batman sabotages Robin’s chances at a Gotham speed dating bar, while looking for a bomb planted by the Penguin. I’m not sure what irked me the most about this segment but I’m pretty sure it was the complete lack of humour. There are literally mountains of jokes you can make about comic book characters, the internet is overflowing with them and they range from cryptic in-jokes to obvious observations. His sketch contained nothing, the main joke appeared to be that Batman is a dick. At one point it’s implied that Superman (DC’s big blue boy scout) is effectively a sexually perverse, super powered stalker – the fact that he’s played by Bobby Cannavale only adds to this – but this idea fizzles out before it starts.
Middleschool Date is another brief example of an amusing concept. Jimmy Bennett and Chloe Grace Moretz are watching TV when Chloe has her first period. Jimmy starts to panic and believes his girlfriend is dying. Jimmy’s older brother, Christopher Mintz-Plasse only aggravates the situation by running around the kitchen pulling out various items to use as a sanitary towel. The events heighten when Jimmy and Chloe’s respective fathers arrive and react in an immature fashion. This is Elizabeth Banks’ debut and it’s one of the only highlights of the entire film. The acting is amusing and the reactions are ridiculous. It’s one of the only segments that doesn’t focus on female humiliation (sort of) and serves to highlight how men stupidly deal with things they don’t understand.
I think Happy Birthday was funny but I can’t really tell. I know the ending was shit but.. funny..? Not sure. To apologise for sleeping with Seann William Scott’s girlfriend, Johnny Knoxville captures an exceptionally violent and foul mouthed leprechaun, played by Gerard Butler. The two men argue and beat the leprechaun into revealing the location of his pot of gold, only to be attacked by the leprechaun’s brother. Reasonably well shot, amusingly crass, acceptable visual effects but a bit of a pointless conclusionary joke. If this were a few people online, I’d say it was partly pleasing but as this is Brett Ratner with a budget and a cast, it can fuck off.
Truth Or Dare is another blind date concept piece, which pits Stephen Merchant against Halle Berry. Tired of the usual getting-to-know-you banter, Berry quickly escalates matters by suggesting the two play truth or dare. The dares are vindictive, outrageous, offensive, dangerous and dumb, although blowing out the candles on a blind boy’s birthday cake before he gets the chance to.. was actually funny. Merchant is typically hilarious and performs well, Berry on the other hand feels a little out of place and the various fake boobery that she keeps whipping out has an air of desperation to it. Overall, typically Farrelly.
Elements of Victory’s Glory were amusing, or at least they started off that way before someone started fleshing out the ‘script.’ Terrence Howard plays a basketball coach, giving a pep talk to his team. The year is 1959 and the players are unsure how they will perform against an unbeaten white team. The idea of slapping aside that motivating “come together and do your best” clichés was funny, slapping it aside with “you’ll win, you’re black” was just stupid. Humiliating the white bullies for having no grounds on which to boast, funny. Having Terrence Howard screeching over-and-over “you’re black, they’re white”, not funny.
The last full sketch before.. and sort of during.. the credits is called Beezel and is based on the concept that an animated pet cat, named Beezel, is trying to come between Josh Duhamel and Elizabeth Banks forming a relationship. No new territory, nothing particularly engaging but a few moderate laughs come from Banks’ observations. Outside of that, it’s just gross out humour and violence.
The real treats are the adverts that intersperse the sketches. Contemporary marketing and advertising is fucking horrendous and every potshot at those phoney, hammy, cheap broadcasts are completely worthwhile. This film has three: the first comes before the iBabe sketch and parodies the typical Apple commercials with a group of people listening to music, dancing around the nude iBabe. The second immediately follows Middleschool Date and features two women swimming in the sea, one of whom gets eaten by a shark because she’s menstruating and using an inferior brand of tampon. And finally, the third is based on a charity that helps children in machines who receive regular abuse from adults who shout and strike vending machines. The entire thing was actually brilliant. A perfectly shot, well-acted parody of heart string tugging charity promos.
With so many people working on this film, there’s really only one overarching flaw: awful writing. When categorising “the worst film I’ve ever seen” one has to factor in a few things. Namely, is it well made? See, a film can be badly acted or horribly written but as long as you can follow what’s going on and doesn’t look like it’s been edited on a phone, it’s a film. Then you have to analyse whether these aspects are forgivable for comedic value, i.e. the ‘so bad it’s funny’ film. So, in essence, this is far from the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it’s just a badly script piece of shit. The real mystery is how these people were convinced to work on this horrific, unfunny nightmare. Money and calling in favours can’t be the only reason. You’d hope that these people had even a shred of artistic integrity. Well.. it’s out there now and I never tell people to definitely watch or avoid anything, I feel my job is to present fact and opinion and let others make their own choice. This film, however, should not be seen. At all. It’s an embarrassment and a powder keg of rage for anyone who’s ever tried to make something creative.
25th January 2013
The Scene To Look Out For:
During the credits, various clips, outtakes and extended scenes are played out. One of which was actually slightly amusing and should have gone in the sketch. The Happy Birthday piece ends with Knoxville presenting a mythological fairy who sucks men off for gold coins – not funny. During the credit sequence, Knoxville turns to Scott and whispers seductively, “And so do I” before the cast and crew burst into laughter… that should have stayed in the film.
I’m so disgusted with every actor for being involved with this that I can’t highlight anyone. That and all the characters were deplorable.
“Machines. They’re full of kids”
In A Few Words:
“Made up of nominees and winners of twelve Golden Globes, ten Emmys and eight Oscars.. I’ve never seen so much talent wasted so badly for so little”