Top That: Five Movies I Probably Shouldn’t Have Paid to See

I just can’t help myself. I’m debating whether or not to go see The Impractical Jokers Movie in theaters. It seems like this should be an easy ‘no,’ right? Especially when there are some good options out right now (The Lodge; The Photograph; The Invisible Man). Yet I’m having trouble resisting.

For those who don’t know, Impractical Jokers is a hidden-camera, prank-based show that debuted on TruTV back in 2011 and features a group of lifelong friends — Joe Gatto, James Murray, Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano — who basically go around making fools of themselves in public. The half-hour long show is structured as a kind of game wherein the guys challenge each other to do all kinds of ridiculous things in public, often involving random strangers who happen to be nearby. It’s pass or fail. Whoever ends up with the most failed attempts at the end of the day gets put through one final round of humiliation. It’s all in the name of good, silly fun of course. How they’re going to pull this off in a full-length feature film I’m not sure. I like these guys but do I enjoy their antics enough to sit in a theater for 90 straight minutes of it? Better question: Can I not just wait until this thing comes on TV? Aren’t these shows best enjoyed from the comfort of your couch?

This has spurred me into thinking about some of the other poor decisions I have made when it comes to choosing what to see in theaters. So here is a Top That! post dedicated to this very concept. We’re going to keep this simple, limiting my “mistakes” to a top five rather than ten. Tell me — what was the dumbest thing you’ve spent money on at a theater?

Jackass: The Movie (that’s 1, 2 and 3) (2002; ’06; ’10) You’d think I would have gotten my fill after one or two, but no. I did the trifecta (and I consider these all the same movie pretty much so this all counts as one item). Sometimes I really do miss being in high school. Back then it was fun to gather a crew together and go laugh at these buffoons basically destroying themselves in the name of low-brow entertainment. Even then though I found the law of diminishing returns quickly setting in as we got to 3. I still find it amazing how out of all of this nonsense Johnny Knoxville actually emerged with his body and brain intact enough to go on to have minor success acting in actual movies, some of which really play to his “strengths” as an “actor,” others surprisingly managing to contain him. The same cannot be said for the others, though. Like, I wonder if Chris “Party Boy” Pontius is still running around in his banana hammock.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie: Sponge Out of Water (2015) All I remember about this sequel to the 2004 Spongebob Squarepants Movie is that the 3D design is the stuff of nightmares. And yet they made this weird design not just a part of the experience, but pretty much the movie’s raison d’être. The story culminates, as you might have guessed, in Mr. Squarepants and friends venturing out of their comfort zone and breaching the ocean surface as they track down Antonio Banderas’ “diabolical” pirate Burger Beard, who has stolen the secret formula for Krusty the Krab’s famous Krabby Patty. A girl I used to live next door to had all kinds of Spongebob posters on her bedroom wall, so it would have made sense if we had seen this thing together. But no, I made the really bad call of tripping out to this one on my lonesome. Why would I ever do this again?

The Simpsons Movie (2007) This totally unnecessary extension of America’s longest-running sitcom apparently came out in 2007. That means I was about 20 years old when I saw this in theaters — old enough to know better. To know my extremely casual fandom of the show probably means I won’t be getting much out of the movie. The plot finds Homer doing Homer things, polluting Springfield’s water supply and causing the EPA to put the town under quarantine. The Simpsons are subsequently labeled fugitives. The only thing I remember about this utterly forgettable event is Homer riding a motorcycle up the glass dome the EPA encases the entire town in, and dropping an explosive device in the very convenient opening at the very tippy-top. Hey, I may not have really cared for the movie but it was a major success, grossing $530 million worldwide and becoming, at the time, the highest-grossing film ever based on an animated show. There’s a happy ending for ya.

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015) In my review of this rather flaccid romance/mystery thingy, I described it as a car wreck. Well, I described the critical response as a car wreck. This really dull movie was the car. The notoriously troubled production bore itself in the final print. The performances are as stiff as Morning Wood. Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele have zero chemistry. The drama is listless and is paced like a snail. I went to see the cinematic adaptation of the book that had gained “global phenomenon” status because . . . well, I was curious. Needless to say, I didn’t do that again. I heard the sequels were even worse.

Movie 43 (2013) Arguably the worst movie I have seen since starting this blog in 2011, and among the first handful of reviews I posted. (Check it out here, if you dare.) The intensely negative buzz surrounding its release was not enough to stop me and a buddy from checking this out. Not for nothing, but this absolute dumpster fire of an “insult comedy,” one that inexplicably attracted a massive cast, became a conversation piece. “Can you believe how terrible that movie was?” I still can’t, actually, no. I lost respect for a lot of the actors involved here. I think we all did.

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Movie 43


Release: Friday, January 25, 2013 (limited)


Two or three months’ worth of frenzied anticipation. . . . . for THIS?!?! What a waste of my time, and of an excellent cast! As if the audience reactions (or lack thereof) aren’t enough to drown this gross-out “comedy,” then we’ve gotta think bigger: how the heck are the stars of this film reacting to how Movie 43 was put together? I mean, what were they thinking getting involved?

All the previews, community buzz and generally negative reviews thereafter couldn’t prepare me for the sheer stupidity of this sprawling mess of a movie. While I understand that is kind of the whole point to Movie 43 — I sensed a mocking, if not altogether disdainful view towards not just Hollywood (hence Dennis Quaid’s role in this film) but the entire human race given the level of gruesomeness — there simply must have been at least a baker’s dozen different and far better ways to shape this rebellious beast. In the weeks and days leading up to its release, the talk about this film’s potential reached epic heights. I’m not sure if people knew what was coming. . . . .like, they actually could sense the incoming turds about to hit them in the face with this raunchfest, or what the dealio was but the faces of moviegoers nationwide as they go into the film and then exit could compare to something like pre- and post-homicide mug shots. If my point hasn’t yet been clear enough, don’t go see Movie 43 if you’re not into tasteless tastelessness.

Only go if you’re willing to subject yourself to shameful, mostly pointless rants on the state of. . . . .you know what? No. No, no no. I can’t do it. I cannot defend any part of this film by using some description that would maybe give you the impression that there is something of substance to watch here. Maybe I’ll defend its raunchiness, like so: only if you are among the most hardened of gross-out comedy veterans may you find it funny how Movie 43 throws decency out the window like a broken television from the top story during a balls-out teenage party that galvanized 80s and 90s punk-rock movies. Those moments when you are just going all-out just to fail and fall harder and harder each time. You could think of this like Jackass, in some ways (hey, yeah even Johnny Knoxville is getting in on this action!) and then if you do, realize that when Knoxville does get his turn, it’s probably one of the stronger moments in the feature.


Let’s see, what kind of a cast do we have here that Johnny Knoxville may have upstaged (read: in the five minutes or so he got to be a part of this)? Well, you’ve got Kate Winslet, Hugh Jackman, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Kate Bosworth, Justin Long, Richard Gere, Halle Berry, Josh Duhamel, Elizabeth Banks, Common, Seth Macfarlane, Liev Schrieber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Katie Finneran, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sean William-Scott, Uma Thurman, Jack McBrayer, Kristen Bell, Chloë Grace Moretz, Patrick Warburton, Gerard Butler, Stephen Merchant, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Stone and Kieran Culkin. My apologies to all those who I have left off that list. . .

I find most insulting of all about this gag-a-thon (not ‘gag’ as in “hardy-har-har” slapstick. . . .I mean more like the two-girls-one-cup kind) the fact that the MANY producers and directors could not make this thing work better with an ensemble like this. In fact, that might be the crowning achievement of it all: utter failure. To get back to that question I asked up top in my introductory comment(s), what must it be like to be one of these stars who were (un)lucky enough to be a part of this? Why did they get involved, other than to show the rest of the world that each of them, bless their little overcompensated souls, has the ability to say dirty and rude things like the rest of us lowly non-celebrities? Is this film really trying to purport that we are all alike as human beings, especially when we talk nasty and speak of and do stupid, ridiculous things? Is this meant to be the cherry-popping daddy of all gross-out films?

I see no other motive behind the testicles dangling from Hugh Jackman’s chin, or Kristen Bell admitting to her excessive pubic hair at a speed dating event. Cramming this many A-list names onto one bill was meant to be a buffer from (or, even more pathetically, as an enhancement to) the bizarre nature of gross-out comedies. Squirming in your chair from disgust potentially could be more fun if you trust the people saying it. We’re meant to be thrown by Emma Stone all of a sudden talking dirty (and I mean, dirty) to an ex-boyfriend in a grocery store, while the nearest microphone picks up the entire conversation for all the patrons to hear.

In reality, the only thing we’re thrown by is the discombobulation of everything put together. (Bonus points go to me since I finally get to use that word in a review. . .)

The movie is a damn mess and has literally no point to it. None. You can check out the plot on IMDb or on movie reviews elsewhere, because that alone will not tell you anything about this film at all. Here’s a brief run-down: Dennis Quaid is pitching his last-ditch attempt at being a good film director, and he’s got several skits planned out that he’s going to put together that will form a “heartwarming story.” Hah! These skits, in turn, are acted out by the vast cast and its pretty much downhill from there.

I will admit that I found myself laughing pretty hard more than a few times. I’m still not sure if these laughs were produced by what I was seeing or more from me coming to realize how ridiculous this film was intent on becoming. There are a couple of bits here and there that serve as light-hearted breaks amid the onslaught of buffoonery put forth by every one of its actors. (Et tu, Liev Schrieber??? What the hell, man?) Surely, this film could have benefited from a little bit of contrast now and again — more than the one or two skits developed that weren’t as offensive as possible. Movie 43 proves that one doesn’t need to be yelling the entire time to have their voice heard. We’ll get the idea if you just talk to us, treat us with some respect. As a viewer, you’re probably going to feel a little like an animal just for sitting through the whole movie.


Richard Gere’s face says it all

0-5Recommendation: I would say stay away. Wait for the DVD, because shelling out $10 for this one is simply nuts. I don’t regret it, since my curiosity about how atrocious a gross-out comedy can be was the only thing that led me to this point. I can no longer say that the bigger the cast, the better the movie, which is a shame.

Rated: R (for ‘ripoff’)

Running Time: 97 mins.

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