My guard immediately goes up when someone labels comedy "so cutting edge that if you don't think it's funny, it's because of your small, inferior brain." This is how fans of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! usually talk. So, being mostly unfamiliar with these two gentlemen aside from some baffling Youtube clips sent to me by friends, I wandered into their movie like a lost child, frightened and alone. Some 90 minutes later that child left the theater, fear replaced by anger at having to tolerate all that long, drawn out nonsense.
I have never been so confounded by something supposedly labeled "comedy" before. This stuff plays out just like countless Saturday Night Live-inspired movies--it's tolerable when you spend 11 minutes or less watching it. But when someone insists on expanding it in search of profit and glory, it becomes tiresome fast. Rest assured that if I wasn't committed to sitting through the entire movie to review it fairly, I would have walked out. Tim and Eric's comedy is so inaccessible that it makes the movie mostly for fans of the Adult Swim show, and even then, it might lose some of them, because as the minutes tick by, it gets light on laughs and heavy on absurdity.
That isn't to say they're amateurs--they're very obviously intimately familiar with the rules of storytelling, which serves as the framework for their weirdness. For instance, this movie is just another "we owe a bad guy a ton of money so we gotta do something crazy" story. In wacky Tim and Eric's case, they borrowed a billion from Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) to make a movie that they blew on a diamond-encrusted suit worn by a Johnny Depp impersonator. To earn the money back, they go run a dangerous, nearly abandoned mall with a wolf problem. This is a pretty funny idea--but while being subjected to this film I learned that Tim and Eric's essence is all about sprinkling a funny idea with an oddball flavor that usually ruins it. Their freeze frames on awkward faces, use of actors they found on Craigslist, and jokes about anything happening below the waist don't seem like revolutionary comedy at all. I feel like I've seen it a million times before--and I didn't laugh then, either.
Tim and Eric's venture onto the big screen, when surveyed from afar, looks like a landscape full of peaks and valleys. The high points include moments when they break the fourth wall and explain reasons they're making jokes, or when they run a genre convention into the ground through repetition. The low points include penis piercings and little boys freeing their bowels into a bathtub. Say what you will about them, they're taking more chances than any network sitcom, which deserves recognition, but that still doesn't make a movie fun to watch. Through time, for every mainstream Cosby Show there's always been a Mr. Show pushing limits. I don't think Tim and Eric are covering any new ground, or even doing it consistently well, but I'm glad that someone has picked up the torch and is keeping us arguing.