Friday, March 2, 2012

Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie - Digital Download Review


Theatrical Release Date: March 2, 2012 see, uh............I wasn't...........(heavy sigh), I really don't know what to say here. I haven't really ever come across a movie that has had me this mixed up in a long time. Just to clarify though, that isn't a good thing in this case.

Review Vital Stats:
Service: Xbox Zune Marketplace
Download Type: Rental
Picture Quality: HD

Loves: The absurd and the bizarre
Likes: Most of the cameos that make an appearance
Neutral: Relying too heavily on something being weird to illicit a laugh
Hates: I don't know....everything?
WTF?: Was my reaction to just about everything in this movie (note: There was no laughter associated with that reaction).

Who the hell are Tim & Eric? That was the first question that crossed my mind the first time I saw the trailer for their new movie. I don't really keep up on internet comedy sketch shows because let's face it, everyone out there has their own show at this point and it is very difficult to differentiate between what is worth while and what isn't. So I generally just don't bother looking and figure if it is something I should pay attention to that it will eventually make its way to me. That technique has served me well...until now that is. Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie has been self labeled as demented, hilarious and insane. That trailer I saw seemed to convey that message pretty well and got me interested in seeing what the hell this thing actually was. I like demented, I like hilarious and I like insane as long as they are also smart. Despite having what some might call a sense of originality to it (which I would not be one of those people) I found the film to be strangely unfunny in almost every possible way to the point of near insanity. I don't think that was the type of insane they were shooting for though.

Tim (Tim Heidecker) & Eric (Eric Wareheim) have been given a billion dollars to make a movie. Turns out they aren't very good with handling their finances after they end up with a film that runs only three minutes, features a fairly convincing Johnny Depp impersonator (he fooled me), a jacket full of real diamonds as well as a diamond ring the size of a softball for the lead actress and the two of them getting extreme Hollywood makeovers to help themselves fit in with the Hollywood elite. Their financier Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) is none too happy with this but before he can do anything to them both Tim & Eric run off to Swallow Valley Mall to become the new head managers. Sound crazy and disconnected? Well you ain't seen nothing yet as they must find a way to turn the failing mall around (and kill a pack of wolves who reside there) in order to win a billion dollars promised by the mall owner Damien Weebs (Will Ferrel) in order to pay off their debt.

Oh look, they bathe each other...that's hilarious!

Comedy is a tricky thing to get right and even more difficult to properly critique simply because everyone has a different perception as to what is funny to them and what isn't. It is very easy to recommend a comedy you found funny to another person if you know their tastes. It is even easier to warn them away from something but what isn't so easy is if the particular film, show or comedy act appears to have all the pieces that make up a good comedy yet it just fails to work for some reason. I consider myself a pretty good judge of what kind of comedy works for people. I understand that I won't find everything funny, that's why we have our Adam Sandlers of the world who appeal to what I lovingly call the more simple minded part of our population and our Simon Peggs of the world who appeal to those of us that like to have a little more wit and intelligence with our comedy. Despite people finding one funnier than the other doesn't mean that either is doing anything wrong, their particular brand of comedy (or anyones for that matter) just isn't meant for everyone.

Then we have Tim & Eric who clearly believe that the more shocking, disgusting and crazy something is the more hilarious it becomes. Well I have news for them, it takes a whole lot more than the sight of a dozen half naked teenage boys shooting fecal matter all over a grown man in a bathtub or a two old women having the crap beat out of them to illicit a laugh from me. Hell, I never even cracked a smile during the entire length of this...thing, which I hesitate to even call a movie despite it having that moniker placed blatantly into its title. This is nothing more than a series of sketches (bad ones mind you) stitched together via some of the most asinine circumstances I have ever had the displeasure of witnessing. Did I dislike Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie? No, I absolutely loathed it.

Oh look, they run really funny...that's hilarious!

That may sound pretty harsh especially coming from someone like me who almost always makes it a point to find at least one redeeming value in something. Tim & Eric broke me though, their "film" was an exercise in tedium. It all started out innocently enough with some gags pointed at the over indulgent film industry such as how most movies that have bloated budgets sometimes look like they cost half the money allotted to them and the vanity of the distributing film studio placing their logo a half dozen different places before the movie actually starts. That stuff should have been funny, I think there is a lot of truth to the message hidden beneath this sad excuse of a movie. I just don't think that neither Tim or Eric know how to make a joke work. You have to do more than just make a reference to something or act weird to make it funny.

I could spend all day pointing out how unfunny this thing is but I will resort to just a handful of examples. For some reason Tim & Eric do not own a vehicle of any kind despite their unhealthy spending habits. So when they have to travel somewhere we get brief clips of them running but...they can't run normal. They must jog in this strange pose everywhere they go. Why do they run that way? Because it looks silly and its weird. Does that make it funny? I suppose some might think its funny since it does indeed look silly and weird but I would gather most people will just be stone faced while thinking to themselves, "Why don't they just ride a bus?". How about when they meet the mall owner who has a fascination with the film Top Gun? Is it funny because he likes an old movie that used to be popular? Is it funny because he still watches it on a VHS tape or is it funny because he forces Tim & Eric to watch it with him over and over again? These are some of the lamest attempts at humor I have been subjugated to in quite a while and with the entire "film" being littered with like-minded jokes it became almost unbearable at times.

Oh look, he has a penis attached to his head...that's hilarious!

Probably the best example I can give is the whole subplot (if you could even call it that) is with Tim and the kid he sort of kidnaps. The crux of the joke is that a man meets the son of another man and is suddenly infatuated with the idea of being a father because he likes the kid for some reason. So he literally just grabs the kid, tells him that he is now his dad as the real father just sits there confused. Then the rest of the film Tim and the kid act as father and son without any subsequent jokes referring back to the so called gag. There are two problems with how the film handles this set up, the first of which is that it does nothing with it. We see Tim and the kid together riding around on electric cars and the kid fails to react to the fact that he was kidnapped by this mentally unstable man. Maybe if the kid was trying to escape from Tim or showed any sort of emotion at all it would have turned into something funny but nothing, not even the kids real father does anything, he just kind of accepts it.

The second and biggest problem is something that covers every single issue I had with the "film" in general. There just isn't any sort of context linking anything together. Why did Tim want to have a son? Why that particular kid? Perhaps if we had some lead up to it where we learn that either Tim was a father who lost his son that looked like that kid or had some sort of fetish with the whole father son thing (taking the kid to a theme park, playing catch, helping with homework) there would be something that helps explain his behavior. Hell, they could have even gone a psychological route and had Tim have some abandonment issues and to help deal with it he over compensates by trying to smother another guys kid. I am not even saying those are good ideas, they are just ideas, something this movie needed a lot more of. All this just helps confirm the fact that Tim & Eric are not characters, they do not make decisions based on any sort of personality reason. They do things to simply be weird and shock people. Why was it funny that Tim took that man's kid? Because it is weird and shocking that a man would take another man's kid...and that's it!

Oh I get it...Chef instead of Jeff...that's hilarious!

Then you have Tim & Eric themselves, the stars of the "film". Like I mentioned at the outset I had no knowledge of them or anything they had done prior to this. Usually with a comedy duo there is what is called the straight man and the loveable idiot formula. The straight guy would be the rational one, the guy who thinks before he acts and comes up with all the ideas. The loveable idiot would be the guy who either screws up the straight guys plans or stumbles his way through things and accidentally has everything work out in the end. They would normally always be at odds with one another, the straight guy being upset at the idiotic tendencies of his simple minded buddy and the idiot would think the straight guy always takes things too seriously. This is a classic comedic routine and one that has worked for generations. This is by no means a standard but it has never failed beyond the lack of chemistry between whichever two actors are put together. Some of the best duos I can think of would be Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello, Chris Farley & David Spade and more recently Simon Pegg & Nick Frost.

I don't think Tim & Eric should be held up to the very high standards established by those greats though. Just like anyone they should be free to forge their own unique dynamics. The problem is that what they do just doesn't work at all. Neither one of them is either the straight guy or lovable idiot, they are both and they are neither at the same time. They will sometimes both be the straight guy (very rarely mind you) or they will both try and be the lovable idiot. Problems arise when they start to run a joke that is already unfunny (which is all of them) into the ground by having these back and forth conversations that never go anywhere. A great example of this is when Eric discovers that Tim has slept with his dream girl. Tim proceeds to justify his actions by telling Eric that she made him weak and soft. Then Eric retorts with, "You're right, she did make me soft...but she also made me hard." After they go back and forth about how hard and soft she made Eric it decides to go on even longer by the breaking of the fourth wall where they then begin to speak to the audience about the meaning of the joke and how this whole time they were secretly referencing Eric's, not funny.

Oh look, they had extreme Hollywood makeovers...that's hilarious!

That was only an example of one of their least offensive stabs at humor. I consider myself to be a fairly difficult person to offend and try as they might, not once did I find anything they did to be offensive. Well I take that back, I was offended but it had nothing to do with their jokes but more the lack thereof. I can usually find humor in just about anything though and offensive comedies are right up my alley with one of my all time favorites being Bad Santa. That movie featured a man who invaded the home of a young kid, constantly berated him, stole from him and basically treated him like shit. How was that funny compared to what is done here? There was a reason for why that character did that stuff, he was a bitter alcoholic who was angry at the world and blamed it for all his troubles. So the fact that he would take all that anger out on a little kid was funny because we understood why he did it even though he shouldn't be doing it. There is literally no meaning, stupid or otherwise, to the actions of Tim & Eric or anyone in this "film" for that matter.

Another baffling aspect is who all they got to play in this thing. Cameos abound in the form of the aforementioned Will Ferrel, Jeff Goldblum shows up in a role that would be generous to call thankless, John C. Reilly as a fairly disgusting individual who has the running joke that he will die at any minute (hilarious!), Zach Galifianakis as the spiritual guru who guides Tim & Eric and two great character actors Robert Loggia and William Atherton as the guys who finance their movie. All great actors who are generally very funny but not here. At first I had no idea how they got these people to be in this thing but after catching a couple of their online sketch comedy episodes (I only watched it for comparison reasons) I noticed that many of those actors had appeared with the non-comedic duo a number of times before this mess of a "film" got made. I guess it pays to have friends but I couldn't help but feel sorry for all these actors who themselves were probably not too sure if they wanted anyone to know they were in this since most of them are uncredited.

Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is an alarmingly humorless and shockingly dimwitted movie. This is nothing more than a series of very unfunny sketches loosely tied together by one of the lamest outlines for a story ever that only gets worse the further it goes when any of those hopelessly inane gags gets stretched out to a point that makes you question your reserve towards bad jokes. This is quite possibly one of the worst comedies I have ever seen and it gives me no pleasure to tear this "film" apart. I wanted to like this as I do with every movie I dedicate two hours of my life to. I can only hope that this is the last time I ever cross paths with Tim & Eric and forget this tragedy of "film" ever existed. Suffice to say...


 If you are a fan of their comedy show you will most likely find some redeeming things in this film since most of what i saw in the film did reflect what was in their sketch comedy show. But my suggestion still stands as far as this being an actual movie goes. It has nothing that even the barest of films should have in order to be considered a basic film. It has no plot (the ending disregards EVERYTHING that happens in it), it has no character growth and it has no message one way or the other. So yes, if you like Tim & Eric you will like this movie...God help you.


Anonymous said...

If you are a fan of Tim & Eric from their past work, you will like this movie.

David Weaver said...

I suppose I should have made mention of that in the review. But yes, if you like their other stuff then I think you will like this. But that still doesn't change the fact that as a movie it fails regardless of their attempts at humor. It just isn't a very good movie in general.

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