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'Freddy Got Fingered': No Laughs, Just Gags

By Stephen Hunter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 20, 2001


    'Freddy Got Fingered' Tom Green and Rip Torn star in "Freddy Got Fingered." (20th Century Fox)
Has it come to this?

Yes, it has.

If ever a movie testified to the utter creative bankruptcy of the Hollywood film industry, it is the abomination known as "Freddy Got Fingered," written and directed and overbearingly starring an odd potato of a man named Tom Green.

Yes, I know whom he is married to. Yes, I know he is still famous on MTV. Yes, I know he had cancer in a nasty spot. That's fine, but this fellow is simply not ready to make a movie for a major American studio, and may never be. He has no skills. He has no gifts. He has no instincts. He has no resources. He knows nothing about story structure, comedy construction, visual humor, jokes, punch lines, satire, parody or any other comic art. He only has his peculiar species of nerve, which evidently some grown-up who should have known better confused with ability.

The movie is simply not professional. It's not, even by the lowest standards of Republic B-westerns in the '30s or bad, cheap horror films in the '50s, releasable. You wonder: What part of "unfunny" doesn't Tom Green understand?

Green has but three comic chops, which he repeats endlessly over the longest 95 minutes in human history. The first is disgust: When he doesn't know what else to do, he crams something into his mouth, babbles incoherently, and treats all and sundry to the vision of clots of wet, mulched food spewing from his pie hole. Or – twice! twice! – he uses his hands to sexually relieve an animal in a state of tumescence, following that act to its necessarily torrential conclusion.

The second is cruelty. He likes the shock effect of blood, particularly when it erupts from the bodies of those victims usually considered sacrosanct, such as small children and animals. A continuing refrain is the angel-faced neighbor boy whose dainty mug is shattered, beaten, bashed and whacked time and time again.

It's not even that this is debased or immoral, particularly in a culture with a major child abuse (and consequent crime) problem. It's that it simply isn't funny. The first time it happens, there's a kind of a giggly sense of shock from the younger audience members; after that, dead silence.

Green's third joke is Green himself, with his repertoire of infantile reaction; he repeats his words over and over, louder and louder, froggy eyes kabonging, voice rising, body language becoming shriekingly anxious. Or, when words fail him (on the 20th reiteration), he begins to slink around spastically in that long-legged, long-armed, slightly effeminate crane-style of his. A shrewd professional director – that is, a comedy professional – might be able to get something out of this. In an earlier age, Green's weirdness would have been studied, polished, honed, and then used sparingly in marginal roles as it developed. He might then have had an actual career. Today it seems that mere notoriety is enough to get oneself a major screen shot and the millions of bucks it takes to invent a movie. No talent necessary.

The plot is one-dimensional. Green, who hogs every scene to diminishing returns, plays 28-year-old Gord Brody, a basement-dwelling loser who harbors dreams of being an animator, which of course inflames his brutal dad (Rip Torn in the worst performance of his distinguished career).

The movie follows Gord to L.A. from his Portland, Ore., home, where he fails to impress an animation executive (Anthony Michael Hall) who does at least counsel him to get "into" his characters more. That's why Gord carves a wound into a deer carcass and climbs inside.

He returns to his dad's basement, and the movie chronicles his next few months. They consist mainly of sex (with a paraplegic girlfriend whose idea of foreplay is having him cane her dead legs), lies (to and about father, up to the point of accusing his father of sexual molestation of a brother), and tripe which this twisted sister of a mutant thinks is funny.

Eventually, his hate-love dance with dad enables him to get "into" a character – the movie maintains this, but it never convinces us – and he creates a cartoon version of his own life and his father's, reimagined among zebra-centaurs (I am not making this up). He returns to L.A., sells his TV concept in five seconds and, armed with a million-dollar check, heads back to Portland for some lame payback.

Why? There is no why. There is only, for now, Tom Green, and a comic sensibility so pitiful it's neither comic nor a sensibility. It's just a humiliation for people on both sides of the screen.

"Freddy Got Fingered" (95 minutes, and dying at area theaters) is rated R for atrocity, brazenness, banality and IQ reduction (and a major obscenity repeated 7,000 times).


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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