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Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Review: The Joke's On You!

By Brian Prisco | Film | March 1, 2012 |

By Brian Prisco | Film | March 1, 2012 |

I think it was around the time Eric Wareheim sat in a bathtub while four sackclothed orphans projectile shat on him intercut with scenes of Tim Heidecker with a twenty pound phallus strapped to his forehead seducing Twink Caplan that I realized — I’m being laughed at. Tim and Eric, the comedic duo behind such Adult Swim hits as “Tom Goes to the Mayor” and “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!,” are an acquired taste. They sort of specialize in alienation comedy — the next wave of Tom Green or, to a lesser extent, Andy Kaufman. It’s not about jokes or even toilet humor. It’s about audience reaction. So really, it’s a strange animal If you enjoy their style of humor, if you are a fan of the show, then you will be in hog heaven with the awkward and bizarre antics of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. If you don’t enjoy their works, you’re not going to be converted by the film. While it doesn’t actually tie in to their other works at all — there’s no Dr. Steve Brule or Tairy Greene — it’s in the same vein, with celebrity cameos and plenty of oddball cable access video effects. It’s like the bastard child of UHF and Freddy Got Fingered, an endurance test of oddities and crudity. It’s meta-meta-meta-meta I accept that it’s not my cup of tea, because I thought I liked tea, but this is ayahuasca tea, and it’s a bad trip and stumble through the mall from Dead Rising.

The premise, and there actually IS one, is that Tim (Tim Heidecker) and Eric (Eric Wareheim) are given a billion dollars by the Schlaaang Corporation to make a movie but it’s only got five usable minutes of footage. The rest they’ve blown on body surgery, personal gurus, and expensive living. Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) is none-too-pleased, and so he and his goons (among which is William Atherton) demand repayment. In order to repay the money, Tim and Eric decide to reinvigorate the failing S’Wallow Valley Mall run by Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell). Several of their regulars, both freakshow unknowns and celebrities, make appearances throughout the movie. Zach Galifianakis plays Jim Joe Kelly, a spirit guru and poet who inspires their original film, Diamond Jim. John C. Reilly plays Taquito, a feral man-boy who was raised in the mall. Will Forte plays the cranky sword shop owner. Most of the known actors seem to be spending most of their time inhabiting this zany sister universe to Weird Al Yankovic’s cable-access comedy, only there’s a lot more people shouting fuck and piercing their cockheads.

Strangely, it’s not just banal toilet jokes and swearing like most of what passes for chuckles in modern cinema. There’s plenty — but instead of people shitting in the street and sinks, it’s more about someone farting and then sniffing the bouquet and trying to determine what they just ate or naming it Stinky and teaching it how to read. It’s still the same comedy recipe in the post-Farrelly cinematic world: three or more bodily fluids, a couple dildos, awkward male nudity, animals doing wacky shit and triple digit swearing in the script and voila! And yet, the ingredients are mixed differently. It still tastes like shit, but you certainly can’t call it derivative. It’s more or less Tim or Eric antics — which kind of defy description. The joke behind the film is that Tim and Eric were given a billion dollars to make a shitty movie, and so they make a shitty movie about making a shitty movie. Normally, there’s a kind of sweet dorkishness to their humor, but in the film, everything is dark and mean. It’s really offputting, but that’s the point probably? When a half-hour comedy, especially something cartoonish, tries to translate to triple length, it’s disastrous. The only one I’ve seen succeed outright was “South Park” and even that drags in the middle acts. Tim and Eric are funny in fifteen-minute bursts. Trying to stretch that 90 minutes is like running a marathon through a mental ward carrying a seasick midget making balloon animals.

I wanted this to be a good film. I honestly did. But they were born from that period on Adult Swim where the Cartoon Network offshoot had found success with the epic “Sealab 2021” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” and programming tried to recapture lightning in a bong hit. That’s when we were forcefed the whatthefuckery of “12. Oz Mouse” and “Squidbillies” and “Tom Goes to the Mayor.” And from there, things got even more wedon’tgiveashit. And while I’ll freely admit that large doses of Tim and Eric just don’t work for me, don’t dare feed me this bullshit about just not being able to appreciate it. Especially if you’re going to blow smoke with that fucking “you just have to be on [insert meth, crack, weed, pills here]” argument. There’s no such fucking thing as “3-Weed” technology, they don’t hand out one-hitters before your screenings. That’s just a lazy art-school emperor’s new groove and I hope you choke on a roach. But, I cannot call Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie a bad film. I hated it, but it wasn’t made for me Or normal people. It’s just built for a limited audience — a cult film tailor-made for its stoner legions. If you love Tim and Eric, I cannot recommend this highly enough, provided you are high enough. If you don’t care for the show, or have never seen it, don’t start here.