Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie a kitschy gross-out
Cartoon Network duo's new film fizzles after 15 minutes
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim normally satirize American corporatism and deliver gross-out gags in 15-minute chunks on "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. That could account for why their feature film Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie works so well for about 15 or 30 minutes, then turns into a tedious grind.
The movie starts like an episode of the show, with stilted '80s-style infomercials and endless production company credits. The film's premise holds that Heidecker and Wareheim, having turned into fake-tanned, bleach-toothed Hollywood phonies, blew a billion bucks on an unreleasable short film. On the hook for a fortune to the Schlaaang Corporation (run by an outraged Robert Loggia), they look to get rich quick by taking over the management of the S'Wallow Valley Shopping Mall & Pizza Court.
Billion Dollar Movie's first act enjoyably lampoons showbiz pomposity and bland business buzzwords when Tim and Eric reinvent themselves as "Dobis Marketing." Big-name cameos include Will Ferrell as the squalid mall's skeevy owner, Zach Galifianakis as Tim and Eric's fatuous life coach, and John C. Reilly as a diseased man-child who becomes their sidekick. The title duo finds creative ways to make itself look horrible. Wareheim in particular could parlay his cult TV stardom into a career as a funny, deadpan character actor.
Once the film establishes the shopping mall as a skid row hellhole, the film runs out of steam almost immediately. Thin subplots include Eric romancing a middle-aged mall tenant and Eric forcibly adopting the custodian's offspring as his own son. Billion Dollar Movie dissolves into a series of scatological and/or ultraviolent slapstick sequences that prove more repugnant than comedic. Heidecker and Wareheim cast ugly or unusual-looking performers with the eagerness of the young John Waters, but their random, would-be shocking sense of humor turns out to be no substitute for a strong story. C
Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Directed by and starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Rated R. Opens Fri., March 2. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema.