Sundance 2012 Review: Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

Tim and Eric

Oh, Tim and Eric.  How you frustrate me.  There are sparks when true comedic genius comes through… and then there are the other times when I feel like you were given an amazing golden opportunity to make comedy wildfire, and you just light your fart instead and waste the match.  Tim and Eric’s Billion dollar movie is that golden opportunity.  And while it starts out with the potential for the aforementioned wildfire, it basically ends up as a lit fart.  Funny at first, but then just kinda stinky.

If you’re a fan, you know all about Tim and Eric.  They are comedians with a truly insane show on Adult Swim.  Each episode is only 12 minutes long and it is, well, utter madness.  It’s a combination of bits that are really funny, bits solely there to make the audience uncomfortable, and then bits which just show strangely manipulated images that are the equivalent of a visual seizure.  If you’re not a fan, you never will be.  But if you enjoy this, you keep tuning in just to see how insane they’ll get.  We’re gluttons that way.  In 12 minutes that works.  In 94, it just can’t hold.  There are times when these bits show up in the movie and that’s when the movie shines.  The audience is literally rolling with laughter.  The “Chef” Goldblum opening bit… amazing.  These are the bursts of fire in the lit fart.  But then there are long stretches when they try to fill the gaps with a “narrative,” and these just don’t really fly.  These are sadly long passages where no one in the theater really laughs, but may smile from time to time.  These are the leftover stinky smells.  But because we’re gluttons, we’ll linger through the stink hopping for another burst of flame to make us laugh.

It’s almost not fair to give that kind of comment, because these guys tried really hard.  Like, REALLY hard to make their audience happy.  But there’s only so much they can do.  It’s true of any skit show that tries to go to a narrative.  Skit shows work because if something falls flat, the audience know that all they have to do is wait a few minutes, and maybe the next one will be funny.  In a longer narrative, if something falls flat, you have to be tortured with it for the duration of the movie.

Now, when the movie shines isn’t when they try to force some strange narrative on you.  It’s when they do their strange 80’s looking bits.  These bits are sheer genius and I love them so much.  I kept wishing they’d all end with “Great Job!”  Because that IS what I want to say to them when they hit.  When they use their celebrity guests in smaller parts, and in their skits, they just rock it.  Jeff Goldblum ruled.  Michael Gross’s stinger at the end made me laugh out loud.  But when their celebrity guests stay too long, they even get less and less funny.  Zack Galifianakis is golden at first.  The pool scene with him is laugh out loud hilarious.  But then his later appearances just aren’t.  Same with Will Ferrell.  He’s great at first, then he seems to overstay his welcome.  Same with John C. Reilly and Will Forte as well.  The overall theme here is less is more.  On the celebrity note though, one of my favorite human’s in the entire world in Ray Wise.  Yet, sadly, he’s wasted in a disgusting, and just not funny, lengthy scenario that involves him being a spiritual “cleanser” that involves cleansing you in a LOT of shit.  He rules.  That bit did not.  Tim and Eric are waaaaay too obsessed with shit.  It seems to be an ongoing theme in the entire movie, and I’m just not on board.

Long story short, when they try to make you laugh with bits and smaller segments — their strong suit, the movie works.  But when they’re trying to make you wade through a narrative, or just flat out trying to make you uncomfortable instead of laugh, the movie just doesn’t.  If you’re a fan, it’s worth a view, but only expect to laugh 50% of the time.  The rest of the time be prepared to sit through the stinky fart.  But hey, to some people, smelling stinky farts is really funny.  So to all their own.

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