Movie 43 (2013)

Before Movie 43 was released, the cast list was announced. Names like Elizabeth Banks, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Anna Faris, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Bell, Sean William Scott, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Uma Thurman — the list goes on and on — were announced to be involved. That’s not even half of the cast; I skipped some of the bigger names, too. I tell you this because I want you to try to think of ways these actors got involved with a $6 million sketch comedy movie.

So, yes, Movie 43 is essentially just a series of short, profane, sketches featuring big-name actors. There’s an overarching story — which actually differs depending on where you live — that attempts to tie them together, and some meta-humor thrown in which winks at the audience and says “Yes, we know this is stupid, but we’re doing it anyway.” I don’t think that exact line is in there, but I’m relatively certain something along those lines was said (or at least implied).

The framework for these sketches comes in one of two forms. The first involves Dennis Quaid pitching a movie script to Greg Kinnear which features all of the sketches. While he describes them to Kinnear, we actually get to see them. Kinnear is disgusted, but keeps listening after Quaid reveals a gun. In the alternative version (seen in the UK and other places) stoner teenagers are trying to find the film known as “Movie 43,” which has been banned the world over. They then see all of the sketches.

There is no pretense of intelligence to Movie 43. This is a dumb movie. The very first skit you see has Kate Winslet on a blind date with Hugh Jackman, which would be all fine and dandy if Jackman’s character didn’t have a scrotum dangling from his chin which nobody notices but Winslet. So, that sets you up for the type of humor that Movie 43 is going for. I’ll refrain from describing the other sketches but if you’re easily offended by anything then you’re probably going to want to skip this outing and watch a more reserved comedy.

Movie 43 is tasteless. It is vile. It is disgusting. It treats both men and women terribly. It is offensive in almost every subject you can think of — except perhaps religion; I don’t remember too many shots at that being taken. But you know what? I laughed at about half the sketches. Maybe that makes me a bad person, or perhaps my sense of humor is so far from the norm that I should stop even trying to review comedies, but I laughed, a lot, at about half of Movie 43. That’s not a bad success rate.

And even the parts that didn’t make me laugh were still easily watchable, if only because I had to keep thinking “Wow, they got that actor to do this?” Sure, that might grow old after a while, but with what felt like a dozen sketches in the course of 90 minutes, there isn’t enough time to get bored. Movie 43 moves on before that’s possible and throws another idea at you. Sure, some might fail, but the fact that the movie even goes there, a studio actually approved is, and big-name actors agreed to have a small role is just so oddly fantastic that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself.

What type of mindset do you need to bring to Movie 43? You need an open one, for starters. Perhaps you should also consider hitting your head a couple of times, too. You won’t be thinking clearly and therefore you might be able to more easily accept what the movie has to offer. Certain drinks, I’ve been told, lower inhibitions which might allow you to laugh at stupid, tasteless comedy that you would otherwise scowl at with disapproval (while secretly giggling inside).

Movie 43 is an experience, the likes of which you probably haven’t seen and will never see again. You’ve maybe seen sketch movies like this before — is Kentucky Fried Movie the most famous? — but you haven’t seen one as tastelessly offensive and well-versed in stupidity as this one. The trailers boast that you won’t be able to forget it, and I believe them to an extent. A couple of the sketches will linger in my mind for a long time.

You just want the rest of the stars, don’t you? Fine. Chris Pratt, ChloĆ« Grace Moretz, Jason Sudeikis, Naomi Watts, Justin Long, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, Richard Gere, Liev Schreiber, Seth McFarlane — there are more still, but I don’t think I missed any of the household names. Maybe some of them aren’t even household names, but if you know your movies you should know all of them. Simply seeing them in a movie like this, doing some of the off-the-wall things they do, is worth the 90 minutes.

How much of a comedy needs to make you laugh in order to call it a success? If that percentage is 50%, then Movie 43 is a successful movie to me. I laughed at about half the sketches, and even the ones that weren’t funny were watchable because it’s almost impossible to get over the inherent silliness associated with watching A-list stars embarrassing themselves in a dumb comedy that has no restraint or sense of taste. You might not like Movie 43, but it’s nevertheless an experience you won’t soon forget.

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