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In Movie 43, current Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman appears as a man on a blind date with a scrotum hanging from his chin.
I’m not sure I need to say anything more about this execrable piece of celluloid. But I’ll try.
A less adventurous, more scatological Kentucky Fried Movie, 43 is comprised of roughly a dozen sketches all appealing to the most prurient interest possible. They’re loosely stitched together by a flimsy conceit that has Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), an unhinged screenwriter, pitching mad movie concepts to studio exec Griffin Schraeder (an amusing Greg Kinnear).
So first we meet Davis (Jackman), himself meeting Beth (Kate Winslet) for the first time, in Peter Farrelly’s “The Catch.” Upon removing his scarf at their fancy restaurant, he reveals he has a sac dangling from his neck. Beth is grossed out, but no one else notices. Before this sketch can continue and resolve itself in any way, we’re back in Griffin’s office. He has put the kibosh on this idea.
But wait, there’s more! Charlie unleashes other ideas, some with a preamble, some of which are vignettes that just unfold into each other. Real-life marrieds Anna Faris and Chris Pratt are Vanessa and Jason. In their sketch, “The Proposition,” she asks him to relieve himself on her in bed, and he goes on a quest to find a diet with the best laxative effect. That’s now two movies in a matter of weeks featuring both Jackman and characters covered in excrement. Wherever he is, I’m not sure Cecil B. DeMille is amused.
Jokes about genitalia abound. All the writers seem to work off of one common rubric: cover every element of the human anatomy, and often. Farrelly’s “Truth or Dare” presents a different kind of blind date, in which Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant get to know each other better while mashing guacamole with her breasts and shooting a turkey baster full of hot sauce into her own swordfish. Griffin Dunne’s “Veronica/CVS” has exes Kieran Culkin and Emma Stone talk about various sex acts they would do to the other over the store’s intercom. Hardee har har.
In Elizabeth Banks’ “Middleschool Date,” Amanda (Chloë Grace Moretz) menstruates for the first time and the men in her boyfriend’s house scramble to find household appliances to help her. (This will not be Ms. Moretz’s last bloody scene on-screen; she will play Carrie White in a remake of Carrie later this fall). Don’t worry about Banks, either – she gets hers in an insipid installment involving a jealous animated cat during the closing credits. And then there’s Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott in Brett Rattner’s “Happy Birthday,” a short involving a fellatio-loving fairy, gunfire, and a shrunken-down Gerard Butler as a leprechaun. Sigh.
If there is one bright spot, it’s the game performances of Julie Ann Emery, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Jeremy Allen White in “Homeschooled,” in which Schreiber and Watts play parents whose social education of their son goes quite a bit too far. I’ve left a few tales out of this review to serve as reward for those either brave or masochistic enough to see 43, but the bottom line is, why would so many rich and powerful people agree to star in such a debasing project? And I emphasize the rich part – these are people who never have to work. I’ll never know the appeal to them of this claptrap.
And in case you think I am prudish, a critic who can’t let himself have some unbuttoned fun, that isn’t the case. I’ve guffawed through the Kevin Smith canon, love the Farrelly brothers’ films, and still think the Baby Ruth scene in Caddyshack is a classic. No, aside from mindless lower-than-lowbrow humor and an incoherent structure, Movie 43 suffers from an even more fatal flaw. It’s boring as hell. When you’ve already scraped the bottom of the barrel and the punch line of every sketch is telegraphed from the very beginning, there’s nowhere to go. Take, for example, a comic book superhero dating sketch called. At one point, Jason Sudeikis’ “Batman” is playing Cyrano to Justin Long’s “Robin” by whispering lines for the Boy Wonder to say to Kristen Bell’s “Supergirl.” What ensues is Sudeikis’ character staring into Bell’s crotch and describing its appearance. You might think, how could she not hear him?” And sure enough, she can hear him! That’s not humor. What’s the word for that? “Duh.”
I’m loath to refer to this dreck as a movie, but since it insists upon calling itself that in its very title, I’ll do so. This “movie” is an embarrassment.