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'Movie 43' offers many different types of entertainment

By John Nicholson
On February 5, 2013

I'm going to start off by saying, if you are easily offended or don't like gross-out movies, do not see the film, "Movie 43," a near masterpiece of tastelessness. The anthology of 12 short, interconnected skits elevates the art form of gross-out comedy to a new height.

How exactly it accomplishes this is by setting its sights so low that it actually breaks through the basement (previously established by such masters as the brothers Farrelly and Wayans, Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith), opening a new, unexplored dimension of awfulness where bad is good, and what some might call obscene and offensive is awesome.

It also helps that it's funny as [please feel free to substitute your own unprintable four-letter vulgarity here]. Structured as a movie pitch by a deranged screenwriter (Dennis Quaid) to an increasingly disturbed producer (Greg Kinnear), "Movie 43" opens with a bang, top-loading the almost shockingly star-studded film with two of its biggest "gets": Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman. The Oscar-winner and her Oscar-nominated co-star play a couple on a blind date that goes horribly (yet hilariously) wrong when she discovers that he, despite being perfect in almost every other way, has a prominent sexual deformity.

To say more would spoil the surprise, and it's something you have to experience for yourself, most of the movie is for that matter. On paper, the movie (which has multiple writers and directors, including Peter Farrelly) sounds dreadful. The litany of poop jokes, racist and homophobic sight gags, and beyond-risque humor seems terrible. In fact, it is terrible. Part of the almost surreal joke of the concept is that this script would never get made in the real (and/or decent) world. Except that we clearly don't live in that world any more. Instead, "Movie 43" gives us one where Richard Gere, playing an immoral, profane and opportunistic caricature of late Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, rubs elbows with Snooki of "Jersey Shore," making a cameo reading from Herman Melville's "Moby Dick."

The film's winking self-awareness of its own turpitude gives it a kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. Like a charming miscreant, it gets away with stuff, not because it can, but because it knows it shouldn't. "Oh my God, just when I thought it couldn't get any more offensive," said Kate Bosworth's character in the Apple sketch. Called "iBabe," the segment uses the sexual mutilation of teenage boys -- via a dangerously engineered MP3 player that's been manufactured to resemble a life-size naked woman, yes you read that right-- to skewer corporate insensitivity to consumer welfare. Time and time again, characters openly acknowledge the film's egregiousness. It doesn't totally exonerate the sin, but it helps.

"Movie 43" is aided by a great, game cast, which includes dramatic heavy hitters such as Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Uma Thurman, Terrence Howard and Halle Berry, along with such comedy powerhouses as Stephen Merchant, Jason Sudeikis, Jack McBrayer,  Anna Faris and Seth MacFarlane. Is every skit a home run? No. But when "Movie 43" makes contact with the ball (and I mean that in every possible sense of the word), it hits it out of the park.

Those who love "The Onion" and particularly "The Onion Movie" (2008) will love the style of this film. The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is because I don't want to go to hell for loving it as much as I do.

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