TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE
Directed by: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Written by: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Starring: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Will Forte, Zack Galifianakis
Some mysteries of the universe will be never solved. Other mysteries weren’t meant to be solved. It’s hard, if not impossible to figure out which category TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE belongs in. What we do know, however, is that Will Ferrell (who also co-produced) and John C. Reilly, comedic luminaries both, and lesser luminaries like Will Forte and Zack Galifianakis, decided to lend their talents in supporting roles to TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, the first and hopefully last feature-length effort from triple threats Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the creative masterminds behind cult-comedy hit “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”, an 11-minute sketch series that ran for five seasons and 50 episodes on Adult Swim between 2007 and 2010.
Expanding an 11-minute sketch show into a ninety-minute, feature film is, by practically any definition, a daunting task and one Heidecker and Wareheim should have seriously reconsidered (and reconsidered). To pad out the running time, Heidecker and Wareheim had to come up with the semblance of a plotline. They found it, more or less (actually much, much less) in the ‘billion dollar’ part of the title. Somehow Heidecker and Wareheim (their characters, not their real-life counterparts) found a multi-billionaire mogul, Tommy Shlaaang (Robert Loggia) to fund a feature-length film with Johnny Depp (actually an impersonator) as the lead. In an over-obvious dig at Hollywood and celebrity filmmakers, Heidecker and Wareheim squandered the billion dollars on personal makeovers (e.g., hair, tans, teeth), ultra-expensive luxuries, and a bearded, long-haired, self-help guru, Jim Joe Kelly (Galifianakis).
The fruits of their non-labor, a three-minute short leaves the senior Shlaaang deeply displeased. He naturally wants his money back and he’ll do anything, up to and including personal violence, to make that happen. In response, Heidecker and Heidecker run away. Spotting a too-good-to-be-true TV advert promising a billion dollars in exchanging for revitalizing and running the Swallow Valley Shopping Mall. The current owner, Damien Weebs (Ferrell), gladly hands over the keys to the mall to Heidecker and Wareheim. He also puts his perpetually sickly, homeless nephew, Taquito (C. Reilly), under their care. In short order, Heidecker and Wareheim’s plans raise the ire of a sword salesman, Allen Bishopman (Forte), Wareheim falls in lust over Katie (Twink Caplan), a mall shop owner, and Heidecker “adopts” a son. Shlaang kidnaps Heidecker and Wareheim’s maternal units to ascertain their whereabouts.
If comedy is, indeed, the most subjective of genres, then Heidecker and Wareheim are making comedy for a select few, initiates in a peculiar, peculiarly bizarre, absurdist humor that spoofs late-night informercials (TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE opens with Jeff Goldblum as “Chef Goldblum” hawking a Shlaaang Super-Seat, complete with IV-fed narcotics and stirrups), decades-old, corporate training videos, self-help gurus, and Hollywood excess and the cult of celebrity (and personality). Unfortunately, too much of their humor also crosses into mockery and debasement (theirs but mostly other-directed). They often cast average-looking or unattractive actors and non-actors in bit parts or starring roles in the interstitial segments that appear with soporific regularity.
Heidecker and Wareheim are also not above (or is it below?) seguing into excremental humor, specifically one scene meant to elicit a combination of disgust and nervous laughter that has to be seen to be disbelieved. It reeks, however, not of comic ingenuity or brilliance, but of do-anything-say-anything desperation. Heidecker and Wareheim intercut said scene with another one centered on increasingly kinky sex, presumably to shuttle their audience (such as it is or will be) from one emotion to another in rapid succession. More egregiously, Heidecker and Wareheim aren’t below suggesting Heidecker’s interest in his newly adopted son (he’s not really adopted) isn’t strictly paternal. Some subjects, like pedophilia, shouldn’t be the subject of comedy. Unfortunately, that’s just one misjudgment out of many Heidecker and Wareheim cram into TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE.