MOVIE 43 (RATED R) 3 Stars
Way back in 1977, a little anthology movie called Kentucky Fried Movie hit the scene and appealed to the 12-year-old boy living in all our hearts. It featured such classic skits as “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble” and “A Fistful of Yen.” Anthology movies are more likely to go direct-to-video, but for one brief shining moment in 1977 this tasteless little gem won the hearts and minds of the people.
If you have fond memories of Kentucky Fried Movie, or your sense of humor is that of a 12-year-old boy, you’ll probably love Movie 43 (90 minutes). It is completely and utterly without redemption, hitting all the envelope-pushing buttons imaginable. Now, I admit I wasn’t totally in love with it but I am willing to bet there are a ton of people who will snort soda out their noses at least once or twice during the movie.
In total, the American release includes 14 skits, each with its own director and writers (too many to list here). “The Pitch” is the book-end skit that ties everything together, with a guy named Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid) pitching a variety of offensive plots to a movie executive named Griffen Schraeder (Greg Kinnear).
First up is “The Catch,” with Kate Winslet on a blind date with Hugh Jackman. She is enchanted by his every word and gesture until she fig-ures out why he is still single. It is a pretty disgusting joke that might work in a five-minute-long SNL sketch, but was already done to much better effect on the “Freak Strike” episode of South Park.
Next, “Homeschooled” features Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts trying to carry a sketch while Jeremy Allen White does his best to suck the life from it. All in all, one of the weaker entries, and the one that follows isn’t much better. Anna Faris is a coprophiliac and Chris Pratt is her reluctant partner. They are married in real life, but have zero chemistry onscreen.
Next, Kieran Culkin plays opposite Emma Stone in a wanna-be Lynchian piece, “Veronica,” that was at its funniest when the actors were making the least amount of sense. Trying to tie it together with a classic romantic ending detracted from all the beautiful absurdity.
“iBabe” goes for cheap laughs (in a movie admittedly full of them). I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say it was sexist on purpose, but poor directing took away the satire and flattened any social commentary into pancakes. “Superhero Speed Dating,” featuring Kristen Bell, Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long, was probably my favorite entry. It wasn’t that great, but superheroes trying to live real lives are always good for a laugh and I really like Kristen Bell.
The skits got weaker as the film progressed, although “Middle-School Date” was good enough that I wouldn’t object to seeing Elizabeth Banks direct a feature film. Objectively speaking, Terrence Howard in “Victory’s Glory,” was the sharpest tool in the shed, but it went on a bit too long. Just when it seemed the movie was over, a final skit aired, “Beezel.” If you leave when the first set of credits roll you won’t miss much.
Overall, with so many big name stars this is worth checking out, even if it has been called the worse movie of the decade. Yes, it is not great — but that is because the writers held back. They danced along the edges of taboo, but never quite manage to hit the nerves they’re aiming for. Perhaps if they had left in the skit featuring the necrophiliac morgue attendant, we would have seen the magical moment of complete repulsion that would have redeemed the whole thing. Maybe if the skits had been tied together (as they were in the British release) by the three teenagers searching for a film so of-fensive it would end civilization, more Americans would like it. But then again, perhaps not.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.