It's not that Movie 43 is shocking, or ''edgy,'' or whatever any of the writers or directors would like to convince you. If you want to actually puke or cry or be shocked, you can go to Rotten.com like the rest of us Internet miscreants. The Cinema of Transgression films by Nick Zedd and Richard Kern have more artistic value than Movie 43, and are generally more interesting. Which is saying a lot, because Zedd's films can get pretty boring. You can only see Annie Sprinkle make out with a man who's listed as Ray the Burn Victim for so long... although I feel terrible for writing, because everyone needs love. Sorry, Ray.
Movie 43 has 12 directors and 17 writers credited with this anthology of shorts modeled, according to producers Peter Farrelly and Charlie Wessler, in the spirit of Kentucky Fried Movie. Surprisingly, none of those writers or directors go by the name Alan Smithee. It's not even totally clear which were written and directed by whom; the production notes are ''hilarious first hand [sic] accounts from those who were a part of, and were witnesses to, the creation of MOVIE 43.''
Kate Winslet and Halle Berry and Richard Gere were tricked into participating, which is supposed to make their ''outrageous'' shorts all the more titillating. One of the larger problems of Movie 43 is that it relies on this handful of mega-stars and on our reactions to them and their off-screen personas, all in lieu of genuine comedy onscreen. Would it be funny if some schmuck on YouTube played a Steve Jobs-like character who didn't understand why his company's iBabe music player which looks like a naked woman but has a coolant system with a fan between its legs was mangling users? No, it wouldn't. And it's definitely not any funnier because it's Richard Gere playing him.
What's most offensive about Movie 43 isn't the scatological humor, but how shoddily the whole thing was put together. (To be honest, I did nearly walk out during the Anna Faris/Chris Pratt short about her desire to be pooped on. I also nearly barfed during Salo. Because poop.) In quite a few of the shorts, half of the actors' heads are cut out of frame. Their heads are literally cut off of the screen in a movie that was professionally filmed by accredited cinematographers. Now, it could have been the theater projecting the film that was having the problem, but that's not really my concern. My concern was mainly that a handful of paying customers (including myself) were sitting through a studio movie where the top of actors' heads aren't in frame.
The self-referential wraparound for the movie is embarrassing for everyone involved, including the viewer. Dennis Quaid plays a disheveled, crazy writer who holds a studio exec (Greg Kinnear) hostage until the exec agrees to buy his movie pitch. His pitch is the series of shorts, which the exec obviously thinks is a terrible idea... because it is. This is like adding insult to injury, because the creators know what they've made is crap. Even the studio exec that they themselves wrote thinks the premise of Movie 43 is crap, and has to be held at gunpoint to bring the idea to his boss. This idea that you will have wasted 90 minutes of your life on minutes you could have spent watching YouTube videos of people squeezing their own cysts or having botflies removed from their bodies or, yes, making out with burn victims.
Complain all you like about stodgy critics who have no sense of humor and don't get ''the kids'' today and all that, but it seems that Peter Farrelly and the group of people who forced this towards theaters (with little to no help from most of the stars or writers or directors) are the ones who are completely out of touch. With anything. Including humor.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1/2 star.