Movie 43 is a cavalcade of pain avalanching towards one final moment where an Oscar nominee nearly saves the day with one brilliant scene. Considering the sheer level of talent involved, and how none of them were involved in promoting the film, Movie 43 was seemingly destined to fall into the black hole that is the Wal-Mart dollar bin sooner than later. And then something interesting happens as Terrence Howard delivers a comedic performance worth standing up and noticing. The question remains a simple one: Can one scene redeem an entire film worth of jokes for the lowest of the lowest common denominators? Can Howard sending up every motivational speech in an underdog sports film, as well as the underdog African-American sports film, completely nullify nearly 90 minutes worth of soul-scorching, mind-numbing and remarkably awful comedy?
No, no it can’t. But it’s certainly a bright spot in an otherwise painful film.
The film follows a scene of skits centered on a desperate writer (Dennis Quaid) pitching movie idea after movie idea to a producer (Greg Kinnear) who isn’t quite interested. Written and directed by a cavalcade of name talent, and starring even more talent than it knows what to do with, the film follows such “comedy” “classics” like Underground Comedy Movie by trying to play up the blue humor and foul language factor as much as possible. Getting all sorts of racist and sexist jokes as well, the film tries to scatter to all fields as it goes after every single group possible. Filmed over several years, and then finally assembled, it’s a chance for a lot of high profile actors and actresses to get in on a comedy role without going all in. In a way it’s admirable; there are just enough dirty jokes to allow someone to dip a toe into the pool but not commit them to a feature length film.
Unfortunately it doesn’t hit on any joke for the first 85 minutes of its run time.
It’s one thing to try and go into the filthy humor department. It’s another to actually succeed and that’s the film’s problem. None of its jokes are actually jokes; they’re mainly just using naughty language to illicit a laugh as opposed to tell a joke. The opening skit features Hugh Jackman as a man with something fairly unfortunate on his throat on a blind date with Kate Winslet. It’s supposed to be funny, of course, but it’s just a bad sight gag that only people who think that jokes about flatulence are an art form would find to be actually funny. It’s a direct reflection of the entire film, for the most part, as it’s made up of jokes and humor that’s just focused on famous people saying bad words as opposed to famous people having good jokes.
And then Howard shows up for the film’s big finale … and it’s beautiful.
Howard is in glorious fashion for a role one imagines that Samuel L Jackson could’ve done equally well; it’s exceptionally hilarious as he tears down the archetypal big coach’s speech at the end of a sports film. It’s the only part of the film that could be considered well done or at least hits the target. While most of the film is about as accurate as a storm trooper with a laser rifle this one segment is so spot-on that it’s almost painfully funny to watch.
One could give you 43 reasons, or 430, not to watch Movie 43 but there’s only you need: it sucks and anyone who thinks it’s funny deserves to be removed from the gene pool in painful ways.
Director: Peter Farrelly, Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Carr, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Patrik Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, Jonathan van Tulleken Writer: Will Carlough, Tobias Carlson, Jacob Fleisher, Patrick Forsberg, Will Graham, James Gunn, Claes Kjellstrom, Jack Kukoda, Bill O’Malley, Matthew Portenoy, Greg Pritikin, Rocky Russo, Olle Sarri, Elizabeth Shapiro, Jeremy Sosenko, Jonathan van Tulleken, Jonas Wittenmark Notable Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Gerard Butler, Bobby Cannavale, Common, Kieran Culkin, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, John Hodgman, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Greg Kinnear, Johnny Knoxville, Justin Long, Stephen Merchant, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Dennis Quaid, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others).