The anthology movie, as we outlined in a feature earlier this week, is only as good as the sum of its parts. Comedy anthologies, as exemplified by "Kentucky Fried Movie" and the underrated pseudo-sequel "Amazon Women on the Moon," are even trickier -- sustaining laughs over a series of choppy little sequences can prove to be a Herculean task for even the most nimble of filmmakers.

This brings us to "Movie 43," a cobbled-together comedy anthology overseen by one-half of the Farrelly Brothers (Peter, for those of you playing at home) and linked together by a vague overarching story about a desperate filmmaker (played by Dennis Quaid, dressed up like Justin Bieber for unknown reasons) trying to get a movie project off the ground. He pitches a variety of ideas to a beleaguered executive (Greg Kinnear, mugging amiably), which are in turn the short segments that we see throughout the film.

"Movie 43" has been hidden from the press and had minimal advertising oomph behind it, so the fact that it exists at all is kind of amazing. But is it any good? Or is this something you can handily skip, like most everything else at the theaters this weekend?

PRO: It's Got a Lot of Famous People In It... Okay, the cast of "Movie 43" is admittedly impressive and features (deep breath) Jason Sudeikis, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Kristen Bell, Naomi Watts, Chris Pratt, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, the aforementioned Dennis Quaid and Greg Kinnear, Uma Thurman, Patrick Warburton, Live Schrieber, Kieran Culkin, Justin Long, Kate Bosworth, Johnny Knoxville, John Hodgman, Terrance Howard and Stephen Merchant. It's fun seeing handsome famous people on a big movie screen. It's one of the reasons we go to the theater, after all.

CON: ... Their Talents Are Completely Wasted You know, it's kind of difficult to feel sorry for famous movie stars who have more money than god, but we spent a majority of "Movie 43" squirming in our seats and wondering what, exactly, Richard Gere did to deserve this. Most of the actors appear to be visibly uncomfortable in their sections, and a report earlier this week essentially suggested that Farrelly harassed most of the participants into being in the movie, sometimes waiting years for the actor's schedule to open up so they could shoot a bit. (Gere, for all his clear unhappiness, forced the production to switch coasts to facilitate his sketch, which is hilariously impish. Right on Richard Gere!) The first section, with Jackman (playing a man who has testicles hanging off his chin) and Winslet, was shot FOUR YEARS AGO. Even after people said yes, they didn't want to be in this thing.

CON: It's Weirdly Anti-Woman It should be said that "Movie 43" has no sense of propriety or good taste. And you know what? Maybe it shouldn't. After all, this is the kind of movie that should really go for extremes -- the shorts only last a handful of minutes each so they've got to make an impact. But one thing that is really unsettling is how anti-woman many of the sections turn out to be, including a bit directed, oddly enough, by Elizabeth Banks that features Chloe Grace Moretz getting her period for the first time and all of the men around her acting totally horrible and dumb. You know! Because getting your period is gross! This is followed by a faux commercial where a shark eats a woman because she's on her period. Oh and there are a couple of sketches centered around the "iBabe," an iPod that looks like a naked woman. Not sure what, exactly, is funny about that.

PRO: The Stephen Merchant/Halle Berry Sketch Is Pretty Funny If there's a silver lining to the groaning drudgery of "Movie 43," it's a sketch where Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry are on a blind date that escalates into an increasingly bizarre game of truth or dare, where each dare is more outrageous than the last. Merchant is a serious comedic talent and Berry proves herself quite apt with the more slap-sticky elements. Overall, it's a fairly enjoyable bit. It's not going to have you falling out of your seat laughing, but the ratio betweem sweetness and absolute disgust is much more modulated here than anywhere else in the movie.

CON: You Are Better Off Spending 90 Minutes Surfing YouTube or Funny or Die What makes "Movie 43" even more asinine is the fact that people will just be YouTubing the funny bits after the movie has come out on home video. This will be the only time anyone will ever watch all of this stuff strung together. In keeping with that spirit, you as a viewer are better off finding the other hilarious sketches and shorts online. Most YouTube videos even look better than "Movie 43," which appears as if it was shot on somebody's iPhone camera.
categories Movies