Movie 43

Critic rating:
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MPAA rating: R
Genre: Comedy
This anthology of 12 short sketches raises gross-out humor to a new height by aiming low.
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler
Running time: 1:30
Release: Opened Jan 25, 2013
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Editorial Review

Review: 'Movie 43'
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, January 25, 2013

Movie 43” is a near masterpiece of tastelessness. The anthology of 12 short, interconnected skits elevates the art form of gross-out comedy to a new height.

How exactly it accomplishes this is by setting its sights so low that it actually breaks through the basement -- previously established by such masters as the brothers Farrelly and Wayans, Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith -- opening a new, unexplored dimension of awfulness where bad is good, and what some might call obscene and offensive is awesome.

It also helps that it’s funny as [please feel free to substitute your own unprintable four-letter vulgarity here].

Structured as a movie pitch by a deranged screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) to an increasingly disturbed producer (Greg Kinnear), “Movie 43” opens with a bang, top-loading the almost shockingly star-studded film with two of its biggest “gets”: Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman. The Oscar-winner and her Oscar-nominated co-star play a couple on a blind date that goes horribly (yet hilariously) wrong when she discovers that he, despite being perfect in almost every other way, has a prominent sexual deformity.

To say more would spoil the surprise. And, quite frankly, it wouldn’t make my enthusiastic, almost unreserved recommendation of this film any more credible. On paper, the movie (which has multiple writers and directors, including Peter Farrelly) sounds dreadful. The litany of poop jokes, racist and homophobic sight gags, and beyond-risque humor seems terrible. In fact, it is terrible. Part of the almost surreal joke of the concept is that this script would never get made in the real (i.e., decent) world.

Except that we clearly don’t live in that world any more.

Instead, “Movie 43” gives us one where Richard Gere, playing an immoral, profane and opportunistic caricature of late Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, rubs elbows with Snooki of “Jersey Shore,” making a cameo reading from Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick.” The film’s winking self-awareness of its own turpitude gives it a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. Like a charming miscreant, it gets away with stuff, not because it can, but because it knows it shouldn’t.

“Oh my God, just when I thought it couldn’t get any more offensive,” says Kate Bosworth’s character in the Apple sketch. Called “iBabe,” the segment uses the sexual mutilation of teenage boys -- via a dangerously engineered MP3 player that’s been manufactured to resemble a life-size naked woman -- to skewer corporate insensitivity to consumer welfare. Time and time again, characters openly acknowledge the film’s egregiousness. It doesn’t totally exonerate the sin, but it helps.

“Movie 43” is aided by a great, game cast, which includes such dramatic heavy hitters as Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, Terrence Howard and Halle Berry, along with such comedy powerhouses as Stephen Merchant, Jason Sudeikis, Jack McBrayer and Anna Faris.

Is every skit a home run? No. But when “Movie 43” makes contact with the ball (and I mean that in every possible sense of the word), it hits it out of the park. The only reason I’m giving it 3 1 / 2 stars instead of four is because I don’t want to go to hell for loving it.

Contains obscenity, nudity, sex, violence, scatological humor and other offenses against nature and decency, in copious amounts.