“I don’t understand”
Movie 43 is the kind of movie you feel immensely guilty about after you finish watching it, while you’re watching it, before you start watching it, and immediately when you get the idea you should watch it. You probably shouldn’t see it.
Besides being bad, the movie is known for its enormous ensemble of highly respected actors. The list of actors is ridiculous and what’s more ridiculous is that they could not combine forces and make a single good joke. Two heads is better than one, but this movie proves that one is better than eight-dozen. Hollywood seems to think constantly regurgitating crude sexual knee-slappers is a surefire way to make audiences laugh. I suppose appealing to the lowest common denominator is a smart strategy on paper, but couldn’t a single intelligent joke have been squeezed into the movie’s ninety minute run time? I guess we already know the answer.
It would be impossible for me to recount the “plot”. So far I have succeeded in erasing around seven or eight of the skits from my mind permanently – however, three or four linger, gently ricocheting against each other and the dark, chilly corners of my memory, and I can tell you the skits are illustrated plot points described by a wacko homeless dude (Dennis Quaid) attempting to sell his script to Greg Kinnear, at gun point, as it is his only chance of ever making enough money to buy food again. (A surprisingly self-aware writing choice, if you ask me.)
There was this one skit I enjoyed. It involved Emma Stone, shockingly enough. Usually she’s intolerable. Anyway she plays a crazy religious chick named Veronica who shows up at her boyfriend’s checkout aisle in a grocery store with a basket full of products and a mouth full of insults for him. It turns out she and her boyfriend (played by Kieran Culkin) broke up after they both cheated; he with some Dumpster-diving goth chick, she with a wizard. Their argument is so passionate and spur-of-the-moment random it’s like the writer for Silver Linings Playbook composed it. Buried in the complex world of Veronica, Stone sheds a few tears before storming out of the store; she’s late for church. With her goes any of the film’s credibility.
Unfortunately, I have yet to mentally erase the indisputable worst skit of the bunch, an outright nauseating five-minute monstrosity randomly placed after the credits. The skit begins with Josh Duhamel and Elizabeth Banks enjoying each other’s company in a nice-looking house, watching audience-appropriate television while fully clothed. “Normal,” the theater collectively sighed, and I thought maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as previous skits. Obviously it was – Duhamel’s character loves his animated cat Beezel (I’ll let you decipher the origin of this kitten’s name) who returns a very warm affection for him… and more. Too much more. Should-have-never-been-created “more”. Uh, I don’t really have anything else to say.
It’s probably fair to mention I was the only person in the theater who went the whole movie without impersonating a hyena’s starved cackle at any of its obscenities. Meaning that while the film repulsed me, perhaps the scariest part was that I seemed to be the only one who did not enjoy the rapid-fire frequency with which globs of raunchy, recycled jokes were catapulted at our faces. My fellow moviegoers liked this movie. In a way, I can almost understand why. Almost. It was an intriguing piece of film that will undoubtedly be studied for years, though maybe for the wrong reasons. Not for the reasons my theater so abominably delighted in.
I will not dissuade anyone from going to see it. In fact I’m tempted to encourage it, if only so I no longer have to bear the burden alone. This world is so cold. I don’t regret the money I dropped on the ticket – at least I was thoroughly entertained, or something. Part of me wants to see it again in the same way part of me wants to go skydiving as a way to overcome a dark, torturous fear.*
You know what? I actually dare everyone reading this to go see it. Now. Cancel plans and go tonight, and get back to me with your thoughts, this is urgent, tonight. This movie has me intrigued, and I want to discuss. What if it was actually fantastic and I’m an outlier? I’m kind of worried this is the truth. How could a movie with so many respectable actors be such a misfire? Something’s fishy. I don’t “get” it.
I don’t care/43 stars
* Falling two miles and landing in an oven – I dislike ovens.