To say that you have to see Movie 43 to believe it is by no means a recommendation. This would-be comic anthology of short films featuring major stars clearly was inspired by such ’70s-era raunch fests as The Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube. But despite the dizzying array of talent involved both in front of and behind the camera, this god-awful exercise is so painfully unfunny, so screamingly bad, that it immediately qualifies as one of the worst films of all time.
An unbelievable roster of A-list stars, including two current Oscar nominees and one upcoming Oscar host, have somehow been hoodwinked — or, more likely, blackmailed — into participating in this exercise helmed by no fewer than 12 directors. Among them are such veterans as Steven Brill, Brett Ratner, Steve Carr, Peter Farrelly and actress Elizabeth Banks.
Providing a rickety framework for the otherwise disconnected vignettes is a thin plotline involving a desperate filmmaker (Dennis Quaid) pitching ideas to a bewildered studio executive (Greg Kinnear) who eventually is forced to keep listening to them at gunpoint. The principals behind Movie 43 might want to employ a similar method on whatever baffled audiences the film manages to attract, since that’s likely the only way to keep them in their seats.
All of the segments feature the sort of cheap scatological humor aimed at the lowest common denominator, with the actors apparently eager to prove just what good sports they can be. Hugh Jackman plays a man with a scrotum hanging from his chin, much to the horror of his blind date (Kate Winslet). Gerard Butler plays a profane leprechaun doing battle with a pair of lowlifes (Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville) looking to steal his pot of gold. Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber play a couple determined to replicate the high school experience for their home-schooled teenage son, including an incestuous make-out session and gay bashing. Anna Faris plays a woman who asks her boyfriend (Chris Pratt), “Will you poop on me?” with explosively messy results. Halle Berry and Stephen Merchant appear as a couple on a blind date who play an increasingly outrageous game of Truth or Dare.
Then there’s Justin Long playing Robin on a speed-dating evening featuring such potential dates as Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell), only to be interrupted by a gleefully licentious Batman (Jason Sudeikis) and an insanely jealous Superman (Bobby Cannavale); Chloe Grace Moretz as a young woman whose first menstrual period results in enough blood for a slasher film; and Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin as a couple whose flirtatious banter (“I want to give you a hickey on your vagina!”) is broadcast on a supermarket P.A. system.
There’s more, but it seems pointless to further describe the inanities foisted on such performers as Terrence Howard, Seth MacFarlane, Josh Duhamel and Richard Gere, among many others. Suffice it to say that there isn’t one funny moment in this relentlessly witless exercise, which at an opening-day screening induced nary a single laugh from a sparse audience that became even sparser as it unspooled.