Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspired bits in "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" grow desperate and tiresome in feature form


Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012)
93 min., rated R.
For those who aren't culturally in the know, Tim and Eric are inscrutable wits of odd, twisted, post-modern "anti-humor." Their brand of sketch comedy has premiered on their 2007-2010 TV series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim comedy block, and has acquired a strong cult following. Now it's time for their big theatrical break with "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie," a scattershot and ultimately tiresome expansion of occasionally inspired, mostly irritating shtick. If you cracked up consistently throughout a similar Adult Swim brainchild, the cult TV show-turned-feature "Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters," you're most likely the target audience for this curiosity. 

In Hollywood, fake-baked clowns Tim (Tim Heidecker) and Eric (Eric Wareheim) have blown a billion dollars on making an unwatchable three-minute movie. (They inadvertently used a Johnny Depp impersonator instead of the real thing, and spent the rest of their budget on hiring personal stylists.) After they show a preview screening of their finished product, their financier Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia, who looks like an evil little goblin here) is furious. Then one night at the clubs, where they just want to get black-out drunk and high, a TV commercial comes on above the bathroom urinals: mall owner Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell) of S'wallow Valley Mall requests someone to help save his mall and make a billion dollars. So the two schlubby nincompoops get the idea to get back the lost money and reinvent themselves as a business called "Dobis P.R." The mall turns out to be a post-apocalyptic scene full of homeless squatters. There's a vicious wolf on the loose (why not?). Eric becomes smitten with a mall employee named Katie (Twink Caplan, most memorable as Miss Geist in 1995's "Clueless"). Tim takes the 10-year-old son of a "used toilet paper store" owner as if he was his own. All the while, Mr. Schlaaang realizes Tim and Eric leave town and wants them dead. 

This is more of a stretched "Funny or Die" sketch of non-sequiturs than a real movie, so it's easier to pick apart as a whole. Taken on the basis of a joke-by-joke rhythm, the first 30 minutes are funny as Tim and Eric's absurdist humor goes, but then the movie turns to even more gross desperation. A running sight gag, where Tim and Eric daintily scamper with their hands at their sides to the song "Two Horses," vaguely earns a smile. A gluten-infested restaurant called Inbreadables gets a laugh. Less funny and clever is the the "Shrim Institute" scene (young boys defecating on Eric in a bathtub) that follows, intercut with Tim and a 65-year-old woman having sex with dildos. Sames goes with the abuse of Tim and Eric's mothers (one of whom gets their finger sliced off).

Is it stupid and nonsensical? Every bit of it, but whether or not it's supposed to be FUNNY isn't always certain. The funniest bitand this is relativeis the opening, a faux "paid advertisement for Schlaaang Incorporated." Chef Goldblum (Jeff Goldblum) comes on to introduce the Schlaaang Super Seat ("If you're not sitting in a Schlaang Super Seat, you're just not sitting down!"). From there, we get Tim and Eric's movie, a Schlaaang Films production, also produced by Schlaaang 21 Productions…and the Schlaaang Group…presented in Schlaaang Sound. For about 30 seconds, the credit, "Directed by Tim & Eric," glimmers and shines on the screen, and that's obviously the joke. This sort of repetition is only amusing in small doses. 

With unfunny, uncredited pop-up cameos, the film is stacked with one-note, off-putting characters. John C. Reilly gets to cough up blood as the slobby, deathly ill Taquito. Will Forte shouts angrily a lot. Ferrell makes Tim and Eric watch "Top Gun" twice immediately upon their arrival. Zach Galifinakis also shows up early on, as Tim and Eric's personal shopper/spiritual guru Jim Joe Kelly.

You might chuckle at Tim and Eric's absurd, oddball brand of humor every now and again, but then groan later because it's so obnoxious and infantile. It's almost in the style of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "BASEketball," except those dudes are able to write stabbing satire amidst infantile jokes. We should hand it to Heidecker and Wareheim for never breaking character. However, these free-wheeling nincompoops are trying so hard to be ha-ha hilarious, random, and strange that their shtick only works for barely half of the movie.

It's a tough call to even review "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" because comedy is so subjective and this comedy is such a matter of taste. What one viewer might bust a gut over (like masturbation and explosive diarrhea), another might just retch their guts up. In 11-minute periods, Tim and Eric can be daringly weird and even funny, but for a 93-minute movie, it just gets tiresome and moronic. In a press interview, these guys said a huge percent of the world population (17%) shares their humor. That remaining 83% isn't going to find anything to laugh at here.

Grade:  C -

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