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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

The Massive Mess of "Movie 43"


I don't know where to begin with "Movie 43." There is no denying that this is a truly terrible movie, but sticking with that logic would be taking the easy way out of this review. I say this because it was clearly the intention of everyone involved in the project to make one of the crudest and most tasteless films the public has ever seen.


Yes, "Movie 43" is awful, but that's because it never stops trying to be awful. There have been many films in the past that have shared this same intention ("Scary Movie," "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist," "Mars Attacks," "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace"), but "Movie 43" takes this concept to new height. Basically, it's a film made up of shorts, each with a different director and cast of familiar faces. The only cohesive factor of this movie is the overarching story of a crazed screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) pitching one awful idea after another to a producer (Greg Kinnear) who grows increasingly disturbed with each story. Side note: I'm not sure if Dennis Quaid is supposed to be playing himself here, but he doesn't have a name in the movie and makes numerous remarks about his "out of work" status.


Anyway, the movie's first short features the two biggest stars of the "Movie 43" extended cast, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet. Despite their extended experience with sophisticated dramas, Jackman and Winslet have one of the more crude storylines in which a woman's blind date turns out to have a prominent sexual deformity. Whether or not this is your brand of humor, you can't help but laugh that these two talented actors have agreed to star in a segment as ridiculous as this. In fact, when we cut back to Quaid after the story, Kinnear says an actress like Winslet would never attach herself to such a film. There is something truly surreal about a movie involving script pitches that would never be made in the real world being shown to the real world. And these movie pitches only get cruder after the first.


From here we get a batch of offensive, racist and outlandishly risqué stories that are sure to make you gasp. Other shorts include plotlines of a mentally tortured homeschooler, an appendage-mutilating product called "iBabe," a seventh-grader's date gone horribly wrong and one girlfriend's shocking request too racy for this paper in a bit that stars Chris Pratt and Anna Faris. Most of the actors involved have fun with and immerse themselves into the offensive material. Emma Stone's brief, inappropriate and overly emotional scene with Kieran Culkin shines a light on these stars' acting talent, even in the midst of cinematic mediocrity. Gerard Butler plays a leprechaun - I don't care if it's stupid, that's just fun (and impressive) to witness. The cast list continues with names like Uma Thurman, Terrence Howard, Halle Berry, Naomi Watts, Jason Sudeikis, Jack McBrayer, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott and Justin Long.


The most important question here is "does the movie make you laugh?" Well, yes and no. For a film that relies on telling several isolated stories, not all of them are going to deliver. Overall, "Movie 43" is a mess from the start to even after the credits when an inappropriate short about a cartoon cat begins. However, the film's consistent self-awareness of its own dreadfulness is enough for many of the viewers to excuse the on-screen abomination they just witnessed. The film aims and hits so low that it should be considered groundbreaking in the art of intentional tastelessness. Bravo, "Movie 43." You deserve every missing clover in this rating.