I am surprised to report that I am not as angry with Tim and Eric’s movie as I have reason to be. Their TV show makes me itch, but their movie is less torpor than it is banality at feature-length. In an odd way, I mean that as a compliment. I wouldn’t say that this movie is unwatchable, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone without expecting a punch in the mouth afterwards. Even I have my limits.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have become generational icons by excelling at anti-humor – humorous sketches that are intentionally not funny. In some circles this is considered art, a sort-of pie-in-the-face version of dadaism that meant to destroy all perceptions of comedy by exhibiting nothing that could or would ever be considered comedy. For me, that’s merely an excuse give two lazy idiots a budget so they can put a lot of disturbing images on the screen and call it a TV show made famous by those with with less disciplined taste.. The rest of us find ourselves asking: What did we do to deserve this?
Now, as anyone with the slightest following on television must have, they have been given their own movie. It opens with the information that the boys had been given a billion dollars to make a movie for the Schlaaang Corporation, which resulted in a six-minute short called “Diamond Jim” featuring Johnny Depp walking through Paris in a suit made of diamonds. They spent millions on the suit, plus needless expenses like 10-course meals and their own personal guru, but they weren’t aware that their Johnny Depp was actually an impersonator (the actor looks like the real deal, I’ll admit, for a moment I was fooled). The CEO of The Schlaaang Corporation, Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) threatens to kill them if they don’t recoup that billion.
Desperate to get the money back, they get involved in a scam run by a shyster named Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell) who runs TV ads offering a billion dollars to whomever can transform the nearly-defunct S’Wallows Mall into something functional again. The joke with Weebs is that he’s not really going to give the guys a billion dollars, and keeps distracting them by showing them repeated viewings of Top Gun. Believe me, that joke is about as funny as it sounds.
The mall itself is a depressing den of far-flung humanity, where possibly once thrived something resembling commerce. Now, it resembles a sad, lonely terrestrial Hell that Dante might have described. The only businesses still functioning are run by the sad, creepy denizens who have yet to move on. One shop, in particular, sells reused toilet paper. This joke too is as funny as it sounds.
Nothing in the movie works. Not the mall, not the plot about the billion dollars and especially not the sickly character Taquito played by John C. Reilly, an adult who was left at the mall as a child and adopted by the staff. He’s too depressing to be funny. I actually felt bad for John C. Reilly. He’s a talented actor whose melancholy rendition of the song “Mr. Cellophane” in the movie Chicago got him an Oscar nomination. What’s he doing in this movie? For that matter, why is Jeff Goldblum here? Will Ferrell? Ray Wise? Robert Loggia? This movie is a colossal waste of their time.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is without a single laugh. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have created something that is an aggravating experience designed to turn off someone who doesn’t “get it”, but there are jokes and bits here that frankly I don’t want to “get”. When I watch a man sit in a bathtub and get defecated on by a troop of boyscouts, I’m just not in on the joke, nor do I want to be.