We’re in the midst of a cinematic weather pattern of high season quality, between the Oscar-vying best-of-year titles and the wealth of worldly cinematic offerings flowing at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) through this weekend. What better time to duck out of the artistic finery and into a movieplex for some shameless, tasteless comedy fun of the guilty pleasure sort? We’re talking, of course, about the crass and classless Peter Farrelly vehicle Movie 43, a 12-pack collection of ribald short comedy vignettes loosely connected to a centralized yarn and featuring a surprisingly impressive cast of victims, I mean characters, including Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts.
Farrelly, of the famous trashy comedy team the Farrelly Brothers, put together the pieces for this series of skits directed and written by various culprits, loosely linked to Farrelly’s tale about a crazed wannabe screenwriter named Charlie (Dennis Quaid), pitching off-color notions to an increasingly disbelieving and unhinged studio suit (played by Greg Kinnear). The mayhem keeps coming, including some Blazing Saddles–style fourth wall backflipping toward the end. The Farrelly franchise’s masterpiece, There’s Something About Mary, also gets a wink of a reference by way of its infamous hair-gel scene. Assorted subjects of the shorts include bona fide potty humor, misplaced testicles (featuring Les Miz man Hugh Jackman, in a role the polar opposite of his singing saint), an over-the-top truth-or-dare skit with a game Halle Berry, and Elizabeth Banks’s saucy turn as director and star of a shot about a cat-scratched lover gone wild. My personal favorite was the faux commercial ending with the line “Machines: They’re full of kids.
It’s true that there is little of socially redeemable worth in the film, which takes as its precedent such lowbrow skit-based movies as The Kentucky Fried Movie. Verdict: unrepentant low humor at its worst, and finest, and worst, again. You may think twice about to whom you confess liking this movie. (Oh no, I’ve just gone public.) Excuse me, gotta get back to the existential aesthetic parade of SBIFF now.