Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Directed by: Tim and Eric Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Will Forte Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins Rating: R Release Date: March 2, 2012
PLOT: A couple of failed filmmakers (Heidecker and Wareheim) renovate a dilapidated shopping mall to help pay back the billion dollars they owe bloodthirsty movie executives.
WHO'S IT FOR?: If you're a fan of comedy duo Tim and Eric, or any of their three shows, their unique movie is worth the time. Open-minded outsiders should prepare for some of the highest absurdity they'll ever see in a feature film.
EXPECTATIONS: Before seeing this film, I had experience with some Tim & Eric hijinks, especially their cartoon "Tom Goes to the Mayor." Though I was never won over by their series "Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" I was intrigued by the premise of watching an entire movie devoted to their cult-creating humor. Perhaps their feature film would allow me to better "get" the style of Tim & Eric?
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim as Tim & Eric: As with their off-screen creativity as writers and directors, as actors Heidecker and Wareheim come as a package. Their characters heighten the ridiculousness of any typical buddy duo you'd see in a wacky comedy. They're like title characters Dumb & Dumber, but abuse much stronger drugs. Their undeniable chemistry makes them an amicable presence in the madness of their own movie, even when things feel unbearably uncomfortable. Score: 7
John C. Reilly as Taquito: The Oscar-nominated actor is put to odd use as homeless mall miscreant Taquito, who's like the creepy guy with the loud cough on the subway and the spaced out loser all into one. Like many of the characters in this movie madhouse, he serves little purpose to any sort of efficient story, but with Reilly's goofy chops on display, Taquito is pretty funny. For those fans keeping track of the Tim & Eric empire, Reilly's Taquito only shares small bits of mannerisms with his most brilliant creation, Steve Brule (a character that eventually got its own spin-off). Score: 6
Rest of Cast: Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is bound to garner some of its viewers with its supporting cast members, who are even more popular than Tim & Eric. Despite their notoriety, they are given cameos here, and bizarre ones at that (well, what else would they be?). Their appearances add color, but none of the characters reach the memorability of Tim, Eric, or even John C. Reilly. Will Ferrell plays the former mall owner, who has a strong liking of Top Gun. Zach Galifianakis appears in the movie briefly in the beginning as the guide to Tim & Eric, Jim Joe Kelly. Will Forte, donning a mustache and an off-putting turtleneck, is used in this movie to scream a lot a psychotic sword salesman. Score: 5
TALKING: There's at least one moment in which Tim & Eric break down the fourth wall, directly acknowledging (in person) the audience. Compared to all of its components, the dialogue of this movie might be its most "critic-proof" element. There isn't one line in this script that is written to register with anything remotely normal. Words can even be toyed around; language is just another medium that Tim & Eric like to f**k around with, just as their aesthetics. That being said, the bread pun sequence featuring James Quall is a truly "inbreadable" moment for all cinematic history. Score: 6
SIGHTS: It doesn't take press notes to ascertain that Tim & Eric have geeky roots in cheap film production, and a subsequent distinct appreciation for cheap visual experiences. Similar to the style seen in their shows, Billion Dollar Movie is constantly colored with moments of disorienting editing, to make you aware you are watching a movie - and one that you have little control over. Fans of Tim & Eric will be delighted to see that they've maintained their love for useless videos, as the duo enjoy finding an excuse to showcase a ridiculous commercial within the movie (and even before). The film's habit of breaking from its narrative to hopelessly "explain" it with a segment called "Understanding Your Movie" is funny in concept more than execution. Score: 7
SOUNDS: A song dedicated to the success of this movie's creation, as written by Tim Heidecker himself, can be heard during the credits. Also in keeping with its visual shenanigans, this movie does not hesitate to use strange sounds (especially really common sound bites) in random moments for the sake of a laugh. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: It's something that can easily be overlooked, but my favorite moment is the revelation that Taquito is Yogurtman. This mystery has absolutely no point at all to any other part of the story. Like many of the oddities of Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, it is such a wholly dumb concept that I can't help but love it.
ENDING: It's a movie, within a movie, within a movie ... just the way Norman Rockwell would have liked it. And as far as throwaway endings go, this is close to achieving my dream of witnessing a complete anti-ending.
QUESTIONS: You can read my interview with Tim & Eric when I post it. Which will be soon, I promise.
REWATCHABILITY: Now that the dust from my obliterated brain cells has settled, I would be curious to see how the humor of this movie stands a second time. Over the years, would this one join my arsenal of UHF quotes?
The kindest thing that the insane Billion Dollar Movie probably offers its audience members is a full picture of the Tim & Eric humor, thus allowing people to gain an understanding what only seems entirely absurd. For me, this movie helped connect the sporadic dots of a sense of humor that I had originally considered to be pointlessly chaotic. Random for random sake. Their humor reminded me of Radiohead lyrics, but with less hope of ever "getting it."
Now that I've experienced a full immersion into the live-action world Tim & Eric, ("Tom Goes to the Mayor" wasn't enough) I think I just might actually ... understand their movie (despite their meta-moments trying to prevent such). As I perceive it, their humor doesn't function like a script like Bridesmaids, where the humor works to make our reality as funny as possible. Tim & Eric doesn't feel "written" like 99% of other comedies. Instead, a "joke" is set up, and the natural all-encompassing parodying nuttiness of the Tim & Eric universe then falls into place.
Very lazy comparisons would connect this film to the likes of trash such Meet the Spartans, but Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie has much more intelligence to its precise craft. Its humor is not sloppy, even when indulging in poop jokes or over-the-top sexual antics. Those two gimmicky scenes are the only moments in which this movie could ever be considered "typical" in modern comedy standards. As a friend mentioned to me, this kind of comedy requires your full attention. In the world they have created, everything can be parodied, especially for the sake of making audience members uncomfortable.
It's a movie that destroys conventions and challenges its viewers, whether the jokes are funny to anyone but Tim & Eric or not. This is a movie that's very dedicated to its bizarre response to our world. So for the sake of art, seriously, we can at least be glad that someone decided to throw some money into Billion Dollar Movie.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10