Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2013
Directed by
94 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Movie 43

Synopsis: A truckload of directors and Hollywood stars get together with the purpose of entertaining us as a wanna-be producer (Dennis Quaid) pitches what he describes as a smart comedy to a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) who becomes increasingly aware that he is dealing with a desperate delusional.

The portmanteau movie was a fad in the 1960s and early 70s. It never worked  - as a whole the narrative discontinuities, the shifts in tone and style left no-one satisfied. If a typical narrative movie takes its viewers on a journey, the portmanteau film took them as far as the airport then left them in the departure lounge until further notice. So, knowing that it has been mercilessly pilloried in its home market, I was expecting little from Movie 43.  I was pleasantly surprised.

If you go to see this film because you’re attracted by the names of top shelf actors such as Kate Winslet, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Richard Gere you’ll be sorely disappointed. Movie 43, whose provenance  is in the Peter Farelly school of gross-out comedy is about as far away from cinema as a dramatic art as you’re ever likely to get. If, on the other hand, you have a taste for humour that contravenes every shibboleth of polite society, then this is the movie for you  - it’s politically incorrect, flagrantly ridiculous, and persistently crass. It’s also cleverly done. I am not familiar with the work of Seth ‘Family Guy” MacFarlane who has a cameo here but from what I’ve heard of it, this film is in the same spirit.

After we get the framing intro with Quaid and Kinnear playing it tongue-in-cheek, the first segment gives us Kate Winslet on a blind date with Hugh Jackman, who is devilishly handsome but has one anomalous feature - a shaven scrotum growing out of his neck like a turkey wattle. This set-up tells you everything you need to know about what awaits you in Movie 43. The scene itself it is funny like Seth’s dick-drawing fixation in Superbad but what makes it so much better than just being outlandish is that whilst, of course, the well-bred young woman can’t keep her eyes off the misplaced testes, everyone else, including their owner, is oblivious to them. Winslet captures the dilemma of her character perfectly as she grows increasingly desperate for someone to acknowledge her would-beau's neck balls, yet is unable to come straight out and say anything that might be inappropriate.

This is followed by a segment in which real-life couple Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts recount to some new neighbours their regime for home schooling their own teenage son. The loving parents, to make sure that their boy gets a rounded eduction, have carefully reproduced every humiliating, degrading and awkward moment of high school. Comedy is often described as the bringing together of incongruent ideas and this is exactly what makes Movie 43 work. Perhaps the funniest segment, however, is one in which Terrence Howard plays a coach for the first black high school basketball team in US history and tries to explain to his long-segregated players that they are bound to win because they are black.

Not all the segments work as well as these and there is a tendency, as is so often for comedies of this frenetic stripe, to run a little ragged at the end. The final segment involving a Garfield-like cartoon cat with sexual designs on its owner was for me the weakest of them and one with a coprophilic fixation I could have done without.

If you don’t like gross-out comedy definitely give Movie 43 a wide berth but if you do, seeing this sort of thing done by a quality cast is an appealing twist.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst