Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a new genre of movie rise up, in which filmmakers get as many big name stars into a movie, (for the purpose of packing a trailer primarily) as they can, with the hope that in doing so the movie will sell itself, and they needn’t be bothered with frivolous details like plot or character development. Movies like the utterly dreadful Valentines Day, and a movie I have genuinely named my least favourite film of all time (New Years Eve) fit in this category.
This brings us to Movie 43. Produced by Peter Farrelly (one half of the Farrelly Brothers) the film is filled with more stars than you can shake a stick at, from Hugh Jackman to Kate Winslet to Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Stephen Merchant, to Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott and what seems like hundreds more.
The “stars” are split into smaller groups, each performing sketches throughout the movie, held together by a central story in which a group of kids search for a banned movie (the titular Movie 43) coming across each sketch on their way deeper and deeper into “the darker corners of the internet”
I should start by saying: this movie isn’t for the faint hearted, as it plays fast and loose with the rules of acceptability (one skit involves Chloe Moretz as a 7th grader who gets her period for her first time in front of her boyfriend and his older brother, and frankly the sequence is just tasteless and disgusting).
I should also preface by saying: while there are some funny skits, overall the film is just dreadful
The three young actors in the main storyline have little to no screen presence to hold the piece together, and of the probably 10 skits (I’ll admit I haven’t counted them, but that probably about right), only 3 were really funny, while the rest simply took their gross out gags too far, and in doing so actually pulled the viewer out of the scene entirely, which is a shame.
Perhaps the one saving grace is a particularly funny sequence with the ever hilarious Stephen Merchant and a surprisingly comedic turn from Halle Berry as they try to one up each other in an impromptu game of Truth Or Dare on their first date. Berry throws herself into it in a way that many of the other stars seemed not to (with several sequences just feeling forced) and it really helped this scene.
This is not a film which is going to stand the test of time by any means and its true home will be in a supermarket’s bargain dvd bin where some unwitting soul will buy it for the cast list. Lets put it this way: when you can tell just by watching it that half the cast didn’t really want to be there, why would you want to be yourself?
EDIT TO ADD: Apparently there are two different versions of the film (one screening either side of the atlantic) where the framing devices are completely different (apparently the US version features Dennis Quaid as a director or something for their framing story, this was NOT in the version I saw)