MOVIE 43. StarringDennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts,Liv Schreiber, Halle Berri, Richard Gere, Uma Therman. Directed and produced byPeter Farrelly. MA 15+ (Strong crude humour, sexual references, nudity, violence and coarse language). 98 minutes.
The old adage 'there's many a slip between the cup and the lip' is nowhere more appropriate than when referring to Movie 43, a hotchpotch of 12 stories,each filmed by a different director, which makes for singularly unpleasant viewing if you are more than 9 years old.
Connecting the 12 'stories' (which are more like badly directed undergrad sketches) is the 'pitch' being made by a deludedwould-be scriptwriter (Dennis Quaid) to a disbelieving studio executive (Greg Kinnear), who is forced first by incredulity then by shotgun, to listen to the madman's wild, infantile imaginings.
On paper, these imaginings could be viewed as outrageous skits or crude parodies poking fun at political correctness. In Homeschooled, for example, two parents (Naomi Watts and real life husband Liev Schreiber) decide to home-school their son by replicating some of the very worst aspects of state education, such as taunting and bullying. The Proposition has a young woman (Anna Faris) whose response to her boyfriend's proposal is to reveal that she has a wish to be defecated on, the implementation of which goes horribly wrong, while Beezel (which can be avoided by leaving just as the final credits begin) is about a nasty animated cat which fantasises about having oral sex with its real-life master.
But brought to life on the screen,it seems beyond belief that such respected actors as Richard Gere, Halle Berri, Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman et al could have allowed themselves to be party to such execrable codswallop. Hugh Jackmanas a man with testicles attached to his neck courting Kate Winslet in a restaurant, with nobody noticing his terrible deformity, may sound funny (The Catch). But in the flesh this joke, like all the others, falls horribly flat.
There's nothing new or inherently wrong about crudeor off-colour humour. The Ancient Greeks made an art of it, as did the Anglo-English satirist and writer Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), whose scatological poem The Ladies Dressing Roomshocked and outraged many, being as it was a splenetic exposé of the fact that women, deemed goddesses by their suitors, use chamber pots.
But the wit, skill and imagination which saves Swift's poem from being merely repugnant is nowhere present in Peter Farelly'sMovie 43, which so wallows in the puerile naughtiness of being crude and shocking for the sake of it that this compilation disaster with its host of celebrity stars, might well qualify as one of the worst movies of its kind ever made.
Jan Epstein is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 7th February 2013.