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Freddy Got Fingered | Colt Cocks, Elephant Ejaculate, Stillborns, and Sausages


Colt Cocks, Elephant Ejaculate, Stillborns, and Sausages

By Drew Morton | DVD Reviews | January 18, 2011 | Comments ()



freddy01.jpg

The Film
Tom Green's studio directorial debut, the infamous Freddy Got Fingered (2001) is a film I've wanted to redeem even since I began writing for Pajiba in 2009. I acknowledge that the task ahead of me is Sisyphean, as the film boasts an 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (7% if limited to "Top Critics"). Yet, the film does have its share of eloquent defenders, most notably A.O. Scott's thoughtful analysis in The New York Times and Nathan Rabin's dissection for The AV Club's series, "My Year of Flops." I've been ambivalent to write this piece because of intimidation. Not an intimidation of the film or my own affection towards it (and whatever wild eyed, gasps of disbelief it may produce) but because, quite simply, Scott and Rabin are far greater writers than I and I felt that my contribution would merely be the equivalent of whipping a dead horse. Well, to be fair to the film, restraint is not a quality it embodies or encourages. After all, we're talking about an 89 minute Dada exercise that ruthlessly tracks down our cultural taboos, brings them to the forefront, and then demolishes them through set piece, freak outs.

Given this objective, it is of no surprise that the plot of the film is minimal. Gord Brody (Tom Green) is a 28 year old skateboarder, wannabe cartoonist ("I'm gonna be like Charles Schulz!"), and live at home slacker. When he isn't working on his half-pipe with best friend Darren (Harland Williams), he's wearing scuba gear in the shower, looking for lost treasure ("That's soap on a rope!") or finding his inner muse by drawing, eating, and playing music...at the same time. At the beginning of the film, Gord decides to finally leave the nest and bring dreams of becoming an animator to fruition by fleeing to Hollywood and accepting work in a cheese sandwich factory. One day, under subterfuge, Gord disguises himself as an English Bobby, bearing the news that the wife of a animation studio executive (Anthony Michael Hall) has been killed. He quickly removes the outfit and plunks his drawings of X-Ray Cat into the man's hands. Yet, the drawings (and one can assume the reaction to Green's script for the film) are nonsensical, which prompts the exec to give Gord a piece of advice: "Quit the shitty cheese job....You have to get inside the animals!"

Fortunately for us, Gord takes the exec's advice literally. He quits his job at the Hollywood Cheese Sandwich Factory and begins his voyage back to his parents' basement. Along the way, he lecherously devours a deli sandwich while watching an insemination at a stud farm. Shortly thereafter, he encounters a fallen deer on a tree-lined interstate. Hopping out of his Chrysler Lebaron (a going away present from his parents, complete with a license plate reading "#1 Son"), Gord disembowels the animal and wears its body, Tautaun style, before getting hit by a speeding semi. When he finally arrives home (yes, he survives getting plastered by an 18 wheeler), he finds that his parents, Jim (Rip Torn) and Julie (Julie Hagerty), are far from dazzled.

The domestic breaking point comes after a lengthy digression that begins when Darren suffers a broken leg while skating the half-pipe with Gord. Gord goes to visit his fallen friend in the hospital, only to meet the charming Betty (Marisa Coughlan), a wheelchair bound doctor. After a sequence in which Gord delivers a still-born baby, bites through the umbilical chord, and brings the fetus back to life through the magic of swinging it around by said chord, Gord and Betty become an item. Gord discovers that his girlfriend is only able to sexually climax when caned with a bamboo rod on her numbed limbs. One evening, the couple actually decides to go out on a date to a fancy restaurant. Unfortunately for Gord, his parents are also in attendance and an awkward confrontation ensues. Gord gets his revenge when he testifies to his family therapist that his father, who belittles Gord at every turn for his artistic ambitions, fingers his "little" (25 year old) brother, Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas).

From that point on, the film becomes a showdown between Green's Gord and Torn's Jim, a domestic nightmare founded on mutual resentment and philosophical differences towards life. Gord embodies the dreamer who, despite being an adult in a temporal sense, holds out on other career options in order to fulfill his ambitions of becoming an animator. Jim, who would rather wipe his ass with Gord's drawings than pay them any attention, views the career option as being unrealistic and simply an excuse for Gord to stage insane set pieces in his domain, such as the one seen in this clip.

Freddy Got Fingered, as you can perhaps begin to grasp by my feeble re-telling, is a rather schizophrenic film. On one hand, these moments, like the "Daddy, Would You Like Some Sausages?" number, exist purely to scratch an itch of watching a man take a running leaping over the line of acceptable behavior into the red zone of depravity. Yet, where Green's film is underestimated is that this is not their sole raison d'ĂȘtre. The conflict of ideas between Gord and Jim is very real (aided by Torn's standout performance) and, I would assume, holds autobiographical value for Green. While Gord may be a wild-eyed idealist, he is, like Green, simply a talent in need of focus. This is the quality of Fingered that was and, for the most part, still is overlooked by critics and general viewers of the film. Freddy Got Fingered is a celluloid paradox: a deliberately artless film about the nature of art.

In retrospect, I cannot help but lament the implosion of Tom Green's career. Coming off his successful MTV series "The Tom Green Show" (2000), Green temporarily broke through to the mainstream with supporting roles in Road Trip (2000) and Charlie's Angels (2000). Inspired by the success for the show and his previous film offerings, Regency gave Green a budget of $15 million to write, direct, and star in Freddy. Yet, as you can probably tell, the abundance of taste-offensive humor (including a scene in which Torn is covered in the ejaculate of an elephant), scathing reviews, and Raspberry nominations brought the box office take of Fingered barely over its production budget. When the film tanked, Green, who had recently fought off cancer, returned to MTV with "The New Tom Green Show" (2002). Yet, the cultural window of opportunity had closed on him and the poorly rated show was cancelled a few months after premiering. In the end however, we still have Fingered, a prime specimen of cinematic oddity and one that, despite what might seem better judgement, deserves our astonishment.

The AV Quality
The presentation of the film, only available on a 2001 issued DVD, is surprisingly strong. The 1.85 widescreen transfer still holds up when viewed on an HD set while the 5.1 Dolby Surround track gets the job done.

The Supplemental Features
The features included on Freddy are pretty stunning. First off, we have a pair of commentary tracks, the first, featuring a shockingly restrained Green, runs the length of the film and provides some insights into his experiences with the production. The second track features supporting cast members but is, unfortunately, only provided for a handful of scenes. Also included are deleted scenes, a short making of documentary and, one of my favorites, a three-minute PG rated version of the film. In retrospect, I'm hard-pressed to find any glaring flaws in the supplements. However, I'd love to have heard a track by A.O. Scott, who was the film's sole defender at the time. If Fox ever produces a Blu-Ray, I'd love to hear a Scott, Rabin, and Green round-table.

Drew Morton is a Ph.D. student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles. His criticism and articles have previously appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the UWM Post, Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Flow, Mediascape, The Playlist, Senses of Cinema, and Studies in Comics. He is the 2008 and 2010 recipient of the Otis Ferguson Award for Critical Writing in Film Studies.



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