The world can be divided into three categories: people who have seen “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and liked it; people who have seen it and hated it; and people who haven’t seen it at all. The first group will enjoy “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie,” the second absolutely will not, and the third … well, it’s hard to predict how a person would react to his or her first exposure to this very odd, very specific brand of intentionally off-putting anti-comedy.
I enjoy the TV show, in which Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim play themselves playing guys who are making a TV show on a fictional network, complete with low-budget commercials and news segments. It’s like a surreal, often nightmarish, frequently hilarious “SCTV” — and the episodes are only 10 minutes long, which is a good dosage for this kind of random, plot-less thing. My chief concern going into the film was whether 90 minutes of it would be 80 minutes too much.
Fortunately, the movie turns out to have more of a story than I would have expected, given the looseness of the TV show, and the plot provides structure and focus. In it, Tim and Eric have been given a budget of $1 billion to make a movie, and have returned with an unreleasable three-minute disaster starring a Johnny Depp impersonator. Their investor, kneecap-breaking businessman Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia), wants his money back. Tim and Eric hear of an opportunity to make a billion dollars running a dilapidated Midwestern shopping mall, and set out to do so before the Schlaaang Corporation can catch up with them. (I didn’t say the story was realistic. I said it existed.)
Heidecker and Wareheim work in what you might call the humor of unpleasantness. No one in a Tim & Eric production is physically attractive; bit parts are often played by people with that cable-access, we-found-this-guy-on-the-street look about them. Between the unflattering clothes and outdated technology, you get the vague sense that everyone and everything is from 1989. Heidecker and Wareheim practice the fine art of annoyance through repetition, which can make you laugh, make you exhausted, or both.
The movie stays true to this formula, with the added benefit of being free from TV restrictions: now they can use vulgarity, violence, and poop to make us laugh-cringe. And boy, do they. The pinnacle is a sequence in which we cut back and forth between a grotesquely unsexy sex scene and a supremely distasteful procedure at the Shrim Healing Center. John C. Reilly appears as Taquito, a sickly, hacking squatter who lives in the old mall and becomes Tim and Eric’s sidekick, with Will Ferrell as the shady mall owner (who’s obsessed with “Top Gun,” for no reason), Will Forte as an angry shopkeeper who doesn’t want more customers, and Zach Galifianakis as Jim Joe Kelly, the boys’ spiritual guru. Everybody’s gross. Speaking of which, Michael Gross shows up at the end.
Needless to say, this freewheeling parade of bizarreness is not everyone’s cup of shrim. Chances are good that the people whose cup of shrim it is already know who they are. If you’re not sure, that’s why we have YouTube. Search for “Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job” and see if you’re intrigued, entertained, and/or baffled by what these likably unlikable weirdos do.
B (1 hr., 33 min.; )
Reprinted from Film.com.