Of Adult Swim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) and Funny or Die Presents infamy, comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim play themselves. Having just squandered a billion dollars of the Schlaaang Corporation’s money on a feature film that somehow runs all of three minutes and stars a guy who isn’t really Johnny Depp, they’re told by cranky producer Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia, miles away from Jagged Edge) to pay back every penny or be killed.
Their prayers are answered by a TV commercial for S’wallow Valley Shopping Mall & Pizza Court, in which the current owner (Will Ferrell, who co-produced) seeks new management and promises a billion is to be made. The mall clearly has seen brighter, better days, as it’s now home to little more than Simon’s Adult Gifts & Toys, E-Z Swords, Reggie’s Used Toilet Paper Discount Warehouse, untold squatting hobos and one killer wolf.
There also used to be a Drimble’s Yogurt, but says diseased mall maintenance man Taquito (John C. Reilly, Carnage), it’s now “haunted … by a yogurt man.”
Tim and Eric unveil their three-point plan to rejuvenate S’wallow Valley:
1. Get rid of the wolf.
2. Clean the place up.
3. Prepare for a grand re-opening.
That’s a pretty slim foundation on which to build a story, but as a springboard for their dark, deeply demented humor, it’s like jumping on a trampoline while wearing springs on your shoes. The movie is so meta that it’s continuously kicking holes in the fourth wall, in hopes of finding a fifth. Their humor is so absurd that absurdity looks at it and seethes with jealousy. The film even stops on occasion for “Understanding Your Movie” breaks, in which relevant themes are deconstructed by two of the most miserable-looking bastards Tim and Eric could find.
Luckily, everyone is game. Clueless teacher Twink Caplan is cast as the owner of the mall’s Celebrity Balloons kiosk and Eric’s love interest … but gets an outrageous sex scene with Tim (who bares more skin) and many items of rubber and plastic. The always-reliable Ray Wise (X-Men: First Class, Chillerama) somehow keeps a straight face as a sham spiritual leader. Jeff Goldblum plays Chef Goldblum in a faux commercial that opens the film, and popping up in uncredited roles are Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover Part II, The Muppets) and Will Forte (A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, TV’s 30 Rock).
Buyer (or renter) beware: This flick’s not for everyone; only the right people will “get” this instant cult classic. And oh, Lord, did I get it. I laughed hard, often and a lot. Even if the momentum inevitably slows toward the tail end, Billion Dollar Movie is the funniest film of 2012 so far, on par sensibility-wise with the anarchic Catechism Cataclysm. You’ll either love its profane, inane groove or give up after about three minutes.
For the former group, nine minutes of deleted scenes await in the DVD’s special features. The highlight among them is the disturbingly mustachioed Forte delivering a TV commercial pitch for E-Z Swords: “You’ll leave with a sword and a smile.” There’s also — God forbid — the Shrim dance screensaver. I’d say that “Shrim dance” will make sense once you see the movie, but it won’t. It will, however, haunt your dreams. –Rod Lott
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