Movie 43

What's it about?

What starts off as a harmless prank becomes an apocalyptic mistake as a group of kids find themselves hunting down the "most disturbing film ever" on the internet, known only as Movie 43.

What we thought:

You know what's really funny about Movie 43? Sadly, for an alleged comedy, it's not really the film itself as much as the fact that that little plot synopsis I just supplied only applies to the UK (and seemingly Commonwealth members') version of the film – the American version of the film has an entirely different plot, but it's still 99% the same movie.

Effectively, Movie 43 is a very, very rude sketch show in search of a movie that uses a wraparound plot to try and hold it together. In the UK, in South Africa and, presumably, a bunch of other countries, we get a wraparound plot involving this fatal search for the most offensive film ever made. In the US, the wraparound is simply about a film producer, played by Greg Kinnear, being presented with a number of gross-out movie pitches by Dennis Quaid. By the sounds of it, we got the better deal, but it kind of says everything about the film that the director's can switch out the entire "plot" of the film and still come out with much the same results.

As for those results, well, they're not great, but they are perhaps not quite as earth-shatteringly awful as some critics have suggested.

For a start, unlike most sketch shows, the various sketches are of a fairly consistent level of quality, with only one or two sticking out as being much worse than the others – the especially hateful Leprechaun section starring Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville and Gerard Butler being the obvious and unsurprising low point.

The rest though, are honestly quite solidly conceived, tightly played and consistently nuts enough to never truly bore. There's no point in trying to review each segment but they're all based off a single "high-concept" (a game of Truth Or Dare that goes wildly out of control; a woman goes on a date with a man who has testicles hanging from his chin but she's the only one who notices; a girl has her first period at her boyfriend's house and neither he nor his father know what the hell to do with her; a superhero date night goes very wrong; etc etc) and usually play out with alternatively gross or just plain weird consequences. They also somehow never outstay their welcome. 

None of this points to anything near the unmitigated travesty that most critics have painted Movie 43 as being. There have even been reports that much of the A-list stars who appear in the film – people like Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Chloe Moretz, Halle Berry, Chris Pratt, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Uma Thurman, the list goes on and on – were "strong-armed" into appearing in the film. But again, none of these are anywhere near as bad as, say, Al Pacino having a major supporting role in the Adam Sandler comedy dud Jack and Jill.

Yes, Movie 43 is gross, possibly even offensive to some and yes, the various sketches don't add up to much, but hey, this is a gross-out sketch-comedy film – what exactly was everyone expecting? Well, for it to be funny, presumably – and this, above all else is where the film ultimately fails.

Directors Bob Oderkirk, Peter Farrelly et al push good taste well beyond breaking point, but their only real crime here is that Movie 43 simply isn't anywhere near as funny as it should be. There are a few titters and nervous guffaws to be had, to be sure, but the giggles are too far apart and there are absolutely no proper belly laughs to be had. Being weirded out, grossed out and shocked by a gross-out comedy film is all well and good but if there are no laughs, really, what's the point.

Not terrible then, just nowhere near funny enough to justify its existence.

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