Cartoon Network alumni Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim bring their awkward, amateurish and lower-than-lowbrow “style” to the big screen with “Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” It’s such an inept exercise in infantilism that you wonder where these guys got the $47.08 it must have cost to shoot their “Billion Dollar Movie.”
For nearly a decade, the comic duo — a podcast/web video/stand-up comedy phenomenon — have been making “Adult Swim” television, and names for themselves within that stoner corner of comedy fandom.
And their “Billion Dollar Movie” is proof positive that having friends is a lot more important than having talent in Hollywood. They have graduated from a TV show littered with guest cameos to a movie that can count Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly among its stars, but barely a laugh in its 94 minutes.
It’s a sketch-based comedy built around one very long, tedious “bit” about what the guys do to raise the money to pay back the $1 billion a tycoon (Robert Loggia, ancient and ranting) gave them to make a movie. They blew all that cash on tanning booths, personal stylists and personal assistants. To raise cash, they set themselves up as PR and marketing consultants. They fall for a pitch from a wacko mall operator (Will Ferrell) and vow to makeover the “S’Wallow Valley Mall” into a goldmine.
Within this Mad Max mall, there’s a cult (led by Ray Wise) which practices group defecation “cleansing” baths, a psycotic sword seller (Will Forte), and Taquito (John C. Reilly), abandoned in the mall as a child, who lives there in the ruins, amongst the wolves that threaten to take over the joint.
One almost-funny bit comes from their first meeting with Mr. Weebs (Ferrell). He’s desperate to save the place, anxious to get them on the job. But the first words out of his mouth aren’t over numbers or marketing pitches.
“Wanna watch ‘Top Gun’?” Which they do. On VHS.
Badly-written and acted inter-movie sketches titled “Understanding your movie” hit on the “themes” of “Billion Dollar Movie” — “Theme 2, Conflict Resolution.”
Then there’s the short film the boys were able to make with what they had left from $1 billion, a junky romance starring a Johnny Depp impersonator and written by a loony poet-guru, played by Zach Galfianakis.
The film is framed by commercials for a company that markets a movie-watching chair that includes hypodermic needles that inject you with whatever drug would make your mood match the movie you’re watching. “Chef Goldblum” (Jeff Goldblum) stars in those. As subjective as humor is, by nature, I defy anybody to find something funny in any of those bits.
At the center of it all are Heidecker and Wareheim, overweight and often underdressed, vamping up bits about genital jewelry and the like.
The movies have a rich tradition of sketch-based comedies that tweak the very idea of making movies, from “Hellzapoppin” to “Kentucky Fried Movie” to “Hollywood Shuffle.” Usually those were born of real ambition and wit. Wareheim and Heidecker, like the fellows they play in “Billion Dollar Movie,” appear to have cashed the checks and called in big-name friends with no idea of what to do with either.
MPAA Rating:R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, comic violence and drug use
Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Robert Loggia, Jeff Goldblum
Credits: Writen and directed by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, a Magnet release. Running time: 1:34