Anyone familiar with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim‘s show on Adult Swim, Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job! or their old show Tom Goes to the Mayor know they specialize in strange, often crude, but always insane humor. So now they’ve finally made a feature film that they wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. Many have been impatiently waiting for this one to hit, and now thanks to Magnet Releasing, everyone has the chance to see it at home on VOD before they roll it out in limited theaters on March 2nd, 2012. I say thanks to Magnet, because no other company in their right mind would release this film on such a wide platform, but Magnet has their release pattern down to a science, and they’ve been a blessing for genre fans worldwide.
It’s hard to review a film like Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie because it is so many different things. The self-referential humor, constant celebrity cameos (and some impersonators just for fun), and completely off the wall concepts jump wildly from scene to scene, and although there is a plot, it quickly becomes second nature, just like common sense on their TV show. So the film will obviously divide audiences much as the show does. Either you’re into their insane brand of comedic violence, strange facial expressions, silly editing, and off the wall jokes, then you’ll love the film. If you’ve seen Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job! and you love it, this is probably by far the most epic undertaking the two have embarked on together.
Like Freddy Got Fingered, BASEketball, and Dude, Where’s My Car? before it, this is one of the 5 dumbest films I’ve ever watched. However, I love Freddy Got Fingered and BASEketball, but the humor of Dude, Where’s My Car? never resonated with me. That’s how I feel about this film, I get what is supposed to be funny about it, and a lot of the time, it’s hilarious in concept, but it never manages to pull more than a few chuckles at a time out of me. But again, I’ve never resonated with their type of humor, but I’m sure fans of the show, and Tom Goes to the Mayor will find plenty to love in the random violence, penis jokes, strange running positions, and an admittedly hilarious final frame.
On a technical level, the film is quite impressive given that the format of their television show prides itself in its VHS tape softness, with the ineptitude of the presentation a joke in itself. Here, they got serious and hired a professional to make it look like a typical studio film, which the director of photography Rachel Morrison did beautifully. So when the limbs start flying, and the Johnny Depp look-alike wears a diamond suit (if you weren’t aware, none of it is supposed to really make any sense), you can see the reason they needed the money to make the film, and the difference that production value lends to a show or film.
I know many fans of the show love the many cameos, and of course they pulled out all the stops here, with everyone from Ray Wise and Robert Loggia to their regular guest stars, Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly. Yet another joke is the fact that these known people would appear in something so ridiculous, and do so well in it. However, it all comes back to the simple fact of whether or not you jibe with the humor style of Heidecker and Wareheim, because if you don’t, all will be lost on you. If you do, everything is probably a slam dunk.
I personally didn’t love the humor, but I respected their commitment to making their vision, no matter how ridiculous, getting to achieve that vision, and finally, to get it out into the world. While the humor might not resonate, it’s an original comedy for a cult audience, and just the fact that it’s now available to everyone via VOD with a limited theatrical roll out on March 2nd, as is the usual Magnet Releasing style. How well it does on VOD will also predict how many theaters it opens in, and how long they’ll plan the run, getting a good indication of what percentage of their target they’ll hit purely from VOD numbers. Without this model, this film might not have existed. While it’s not something I’ll probably ever watch again, I am glad it exists, as proof that the major studios don’t dictate what we can and can’t watch. Especially with the option of the comfort of our own homes.