In Sunday Style this weekend, Aaron Leitko caught up with Tom Green, the gross-out comedian who became famous for his early-2000’s MTV antics that included suckling milk from a cow’s udder, painting pornography on his parents’ car, and singing about his bum. Turns out, he’s grown up a little — surviving cancer, a high-profile divorce, and a major commercial flop of a film will do that to you — and his return to stand-up (he’s playing the Improv next weekend) appeals more to the mainstream.
That’s because the mainstream might have been the only place that Green could go after his film “Freddie Got Fingered.” The movie, for which Green acted, directed, and co-wrote, was deemed the worst film of 2001 by the Golden Raspberry Foundation, with additional awards to Green for Worst Actor, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay. He was even up against tough competition: This was the same year that produced the notoriously excruciating Mariah Carey movie “Glitter.” The beating that “Glitter” took in the press that year (The Village Voice called it “Infinitely mockable”) is nothing compared to the prose that “Freddy Got Fingered” inspired, though. There’s nothing like a truly bad movie to make a critic sharpen his or her teeth. Here’s a look back at some of the best bad reviews of the worst movie of 10 years ago.
First, time-travel back to then Washingtonpost.com’s color scheme was purple and maroon and we had a “love life” section, for Desson Howe’s review:
“Green plays Gordon, a 28-year-old slacker living at home who wants to be a great animator. His verbally abusive daddy (Rip Torn in his worst role of all time) has no faith in him. Gordon’s mom suffers quietly. But we suffer worst of all. In a sense, this is a horror film, worse than anything Andy Kaufman could dream up, in which Green tries to outgross himself.”
Our critic Stephen Hunter also had some choice words for Green:
“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 … 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?”
“It’s just a humiliation for people on both sides of the screen.”
Variety’s Robert Koehler offers up these zingers:
“One of the most brutally awful comedies ever to emerge from a major studio.”
“Green is such an abysmal actor that he can’t even play himself.”
“He’s the human form of the car alarm that won’t stop.”
In USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna laments:
“Just when you thought nothing-sacred cinema could stoop no lower, Green guides us through the clogged sewage system of his demented mind.”
But Roger Ebert outdoes them all:
“This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”
“The day may come when “Freddy Got Fingered” is seen as a milestone of neo-surrealism. The day may never come when it is seen as funny.”
“The film is a vomitorium.”
The movie was a large-scale bomb that slowed down his career. It was also a blessing, in that it generated a loyal cult following of fans who will pay to see him alive and well on stage. Frequently, fans quote him lines from the film. “It’s been a vindicating experience to me,” says Green. “They don’t talk about my other movies.”
Leiko also writes that at first, Green’s stand-up routine revolved mainly around his anger. No wonder.