Movie review: Tim and Eric parody film with bizarre humor

By Andrew Ho

Technique, Georgia Tech via UWIRE

Movie review: Tim and Eric parody film with bizarre humor

Taking the role of writers, directors and actors, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! have now taken their bizarre brand of humor into the domain of feature-length cinema with exceedingly mixed results. While many movies often have a fairly broad or numerous audience that they keep in mind, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is almost unquestionably geared to satisfy viewers who already love the sketch comedy antics seen on the television show.

The bare plot in this film revolves around the creation of a fictional billion dollar movie by Tim and Eric, with a subsequent and vigorous condemnation given by the executives who fund the movie, the Schlaaang corporation. Faced with the prospect of repaying their billion-dollar investment after having blown it on frivolous luxury items, the pair end up watching a kitschy advertisement with a ‘successful’ shopping mall owner (Will Ferrell) inviting anyone to come manage the business to make a billion dollars. Drawn by this exaggerated promise, they skip town to live out their new dream as shopping mall managers while avoiding their debt. As one might expect, this task is hardly a cakewalk and isn’t made any easier by the peculiar residents and shop owners that live in the mall.

Rounding out the cast are well-known actors taking odd roles, such as John C. Reilly, Will Forte and Zach Galifianakis. Aside from the strangeness of their roles, these characters can be surprisingly entertaining to watch interacting with the deadpan Tim and Eric. There are also some poorly acted roles, though Tim and Eric are also known for their use of amateur actors along with celebrity look-a-likes.

Beyond this minimal plot and amusing cast, it is hard for viewers to follow. From the start of the movie, terrible commercials and public service announcements pull the audience out of the story before tossing them right back in. While it is hard to understand their humor, it is worth noting that the surreal nature of their humor can be appreciated if one doesn’t attempt to figure it out. There are a number of gross-out moments which are presented in bad taste, but these may also be part of the joke. Tim and Eric aren’t content to simply parody any medium, but they instead take the absurd or silly elements out of things such as PSAs, commercials, trailers and big films and throw them into the audience’s face.

Heidecker and Wareheim were recently in town for a student press interview while touring the country.

“Well we’d made 50 episodes, and felt like we finished that chapter, wanted to expand into short films. We’ve always wanted to make a movie from the very beginning,” Heidecker said of why they made the move from television to film.

“Just like how the TV show is very much about television, so our film is very much about movies,” Wareheim said on the challenges faced in the transition.

In person, the duo possesses a similar deadpan humor, but responded seriously to the notion that their show and film had no narrative sense, and were against the term ‘anti-humor’ being applied to their work.

“We think it’s a misnomer. Our intentions are always to be funny, to make you laugh, but we’re just not relying on tired old staples to be very comfortable for people. But we’re not against comedy, we’re all for comedy.” Heidecker said.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie won’t win any critical awards, but that is not what the movie was created to be. It will make an audience chuckle, laugh and squirm in various ways, so it’s pivotal that viewers keep this in mind while watching. Fans will be thrilled to watch, but it’s not likely to win over new audiences.

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