These comics make you cringeBy Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Mar. 2, 2012
It goes without saying that "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" - a moderately funny feature based on the cult cable-TV sketch comedy show "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" - didn't cost much to make. At times, the movie has the look and feel of the cheaply made late-night commercials that it mercilessly, and occasionally hilariously, mocks.
The title, in fact, is the film's first joke.
It may also be its last one. The next closest thing is a puerile pun that comes halfway through the movie, referencing male sexual arousal. When it arrives, the cast breaks character, turns to the camera and insists on explaining it to us, as if we - or maybe they - were morons.
Writer-director-producer-stars Tim Heidecker (the pudgy one) and Eric Wareheim (the other pudgy one, with glasses) don't really do "jokes" so much as they specialize in a brand of post-modern comedy that wrings laughter out of moments of awkwardness and ineptitude. If something is funny - or, better yet, if it's merely uncomfortable, gross, inappropriate or vaguely disturbing - they simply repeat it, point to it or stretch it out, ad nauseam, or until it somehow transcends itself.
It's a strangely effective technique, to the extent that an audience of people shouting "Nooo!" at the screen can be considered a measure of approval, and here it can be. Look, it works for Will Ferrell every time he takes his shirt or his pants off. (The comedian's Funny or Die production company helped to make the film.)
Though Ferrell makes an amusing supporting appearance here as a seedy TV pitchman - along with Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Will Forte and Jeff Goldblum - he never actually disrobes. Not so Heidecker and Wareheim, whose softly flabby bellies and derrieres make a few more appearances than are strictly necessary.
"Tim and Eric" opens with an equally awkward moment. Heidecker and Wareheim, playing fictionalized versions of themselves as first-time filmmakers, are screening their new movie for its mobster-producer (Robert Loggia). But the end result is a self-indulgent, three-minute flop called "Diamond Jim." Loggia's Tommy Schlaaang isn't happy that his billion-dollar budget has been eaten up by a new-age guru (Galifianakis), helicopter rides to the set for Heidecker and Wareheim and a costume for its star - a bad Johnny Depp impersonator - that's made entirely of diamonds.
With a contract out on their lives, Heidecker and Wareheim go on the lam, taking a job managing a run-down mall. It's populated by squatters, a wolf and Reilly's consumptive, mentally challenged handyman, but zero customers.
This is less a plot than an excuse to make fun of ignorance, poverty, disease, bad teeth, middlebrow taste and rotting food - all the comedy staples. Twink Caplan, a 64-year-old actress, plays Wareheim's love interest, Katie, who runs a balloon kiosk at the mall. It's hard to know whether the nearly 30-year age difference between Katie and Wareheim - and the bluntly vulgar way he articulates his fantasies about her - is meant to induce laughs or squirming.
It doesn't matter. For Heidecker and Wareheim, a groan is as good as a guffaw.
Contains obscenity, sexual and scatalogical humor and comic violence, all in jumbo proportions.