Movie 43 totally beefed-it at the box office during its theatrical release in 2013 but its $6 million budget mean that it tuned a profit after grossing $8.8 million at the US box office and $32.4 million globally. This comes despite a top tier cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Gerard Butler and a slew of other so-called talents (comedic and otherwise). So, is Movie 43 as bad as its reputation would have you believe? Not really, although it’s not very good – not by a long shot.
Movie 43 is framed around three teenagers searching the internet for the mythical ‘Movie 43’. Their search takes them to a variety of websites where they view each of the short ‘comedy’ skits featuring an array of Hollywood stars. It’s not a great premise to frame a movie around, and it’s only vaguely entertaining. Vaguely. The main problem is that the short films just aren’t that funny – they often come across as first drafts of skits, far from the finished article. The stand-out is Brett Ratner’s effort starring Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville as friends who kidnap a foul-mouthed leprechaun (Gerard Butler), in an attempt to get their hands on his pot of gold.
Anthology films are generally uneven in their nature and even the best directors haven’t been able to overcome this hurdle (see The Twilight Zone and Four Rooms to name just two). You can’t tie unconnected short films together and expect them to have a cohesive nature – especially with scripts as poorly written as those in Movie 43. The concept is so poorly realised that the framing device is ditched before the end, and the ‘film’ bizarrely continues for another fifteen minutes. If the filmmakers don’t care about their own construction, then why should we?
I know that it took up very little of their time, but you have to wonder how so many talented people came to be attached to a project that is so unfunny. I’m sure there‘s the aspect of letting loose and poking fun at your image, but it’s difficult to understand why they would select such substandard material. There must be better comedy scripts out there. There’s probably an audience out there for Movie 43, but I can’t really imagine who that would be. Maybe mindless, beer-swigging teenagers with low attention spans – but even they would find it wildly uneven.