I remember seeing the trailer for this film and being both confused and captivated. Never have I seen a display of humour so offbeat and surreal with such a talented cast behind it. Having only heard about Awesome Show Great Job briefly on TV, I was suddenly interested in the shenanigans and doings of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. I went ahead and watched clips of the show on YouTube, and laughed along with a legion of hard core fans who seem to genuinely enjoy the bizarre and awkward humour at hand. I mention all of this because I feel it’s important for the uninitiated to do before seeing this film. I went in to Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie knowing I was going to laugh at the awkward and surreal hijinks the film would present, but I cannot guarantee many people will react in the same way. For every fan of Tim and Eric, there seems to be someone who either doesn’t understand the humour or just simply isn’t interested in it. Keep this in mind when reading this review.
But what about the actual film? Did it work? Was it funny?
What’s interesting to note about this film is both how little it deviates from the humour and edginess that these two are known for, while it also deviates very little from basic movie making structures and formulas. Billion Dollar Movie is a series of absolutely hilarious segments that are trapped in a mediocre and, quite frankly, boring story. It’s absolutely not awful by any means, and if you’re a fan of this type of humour you’re going to laugh hysterically at points, but I find it very difficult to believe that any fan of the show would like this anywhere near as much as the sketches that they have already seen in the past. In a film where two grown men run around like “majestic stallions” and shave each other in a bath tub, it’s very frustrating to have to sit through a boring and completely un-shocking story that adds very little to the already perverse nature of the film.
As much as I have bashed the writing and structure of the film, I will give it credit where credit is due. When it rains, it POURS. There are plenty of jokes and gags that had me covering my eyes and laughing hysterically. There is almost a fine art to stupidity, and Tim and Eric have perfected it. What also works is the cast. Although there are characters that are overused, each actor playing them knows exactly what works for their roles. Will Forte and John C Reilly are notably hilarious, although John C Reilly’s character wore thin on me rather quickly (which is not at all his fault). Tim and Eric themselves are great, giving us an oddly rootable pair of morons that fit the strange vibe the film gives off while also giving the audience a pathway into the insanity. The film will occasionally cut away to a random gag and this is where the film really shines. The cut aways are always fun and always completely out of left field.
However, please keep in mind that this is all contained in plot that isn’t really that interesting. This is because it really isn’t as random or out there as the beginning of the film, nor is it as shocking or bizarre as some of the later scenes. It tones down for the story, and that almost kills the film for me. Instead of starting off insanely shocking and then slowing down, the film should have started out with some of the weaker and more conventional gags while escalating to more and more shock value. The film can get tedious at points, which is really a shame considering all of the talent at hand here. If you are interested in the gags that this movie is ready to present you with, just be warned that you’ll have to sit through a lot of filler first.
So overall, I generally enjoyed the film for what it was. Although I seriously believe that there were moments that were way too dull for its own good, the film had some great jokes and situations that I won’t be forgetting any time soon. If you are willing to sit through the tedium, you will be rewarded with shrim baths and sword fights galore. Fans of Tim and Eric will find a lot to like here, but I simply can’t ignore how much I was bored by the very structured nature of the film. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.