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The many mistakes of Movie 43'

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Compilation of shorts short on laughs

When I first saw the trailer for 'Movie 43,' my attention was grabbed. A series of loosely-connected comedic short films created by a team of name writers and directors and packed with recognizable stars? The potential was sky high.

Unfortunately, however, the end result is far, far less than the sum of its parts.

The framing device that loosely holds 'Movie 43' together is a story revolving around a desperate filmmaker (Dennis Quaid, 'Playing For Keeps') who has made his way into the office of a studio executive (Greg Kinnear, 'Stuck in Love') in order to pitch his movie ideas. The director's ideas start out strange and become increasingly stranger as each of the film concepts is presented to the audience in vignette form.

That's about all the plot synopsis you're going to get none of the intentionally bizarre and offensive concepts presented in these short films ever does anything so mundane as 'tell a story.' Instead, we get a wealth of increasingly weird and off-putting snippets that while admittedly high in terms of weirdness quotient rarely deliver anything that resembles a genuine laugh.

From super hero speed dating to creepy home schooling, from obsessive lovesick cats to foul-mouthed leprechauns, 'Movie 43' offers all manner of meandering and often desperately unfunny sketches. There are also a couple of additional blind dates and a handful of parody ads thrown in for good measure. For the most part, nothing really works.

'Movie 43' was deliberately held back from advance critical screenings never a good sign of studio confidence and many of the admittedly A-list actors involved seem eager to distance themselves from the project. After watching the film, you can understand why.

The film is clearly striving to be a 21st century 'Kentucky Fried Movie' or 'Amazon Women on the Moon' two classic examples of the vignette-driven style of comedy film from the 1970s. Unfortunately, the assorted sketches in 'Movie 43' generally fail to deliver in terms of genuine laughter. Sure, there are some uncomfortable chuckles and plenty of cringe-inducing moments, but as far as outright laughs? There's just not much there.

There are some good moments as a notoriously easy mark when it comes to comedy, I personally laughed more than the average person probably would but they are largely overwhelmed by the peppering of pop culture and self-reference.

In theory, 'Movie 43' is an interesting idea. The short film has largely been shortchanged in Hollywood through the years although the new breed of digital filmmakers seems to be altering that paradigm and the bringing together of top-tier talent into a B-movie sensibility certainly sounds intriguing.

However, the end result is a collection of shorts that succeed only in being blatantly offensive. Even the occasional chuckle is almost immediately bludgeoned into oblivion by the over-the-top crudity that seems to have infected every single frame of the film. If I were one of the many, many talented people who somehow got mixed up in this mess, I also would try and pretend it didn't exist.

But hey if you want to see award-winning actors with testicles coming out of their necks or using their boobs to make guacamole, then 'Movie 43' is definitely for you.

1 out of 5

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