Centuries from now, when American civilization has completely collapsed, historians will look back and say: “What caused this great society to fall? How could a culture so rich in the arts, so advanced in government, so efficient in its distribution of Girl Scout cookies, have come to such utter ruin?”
The answer, they will determine, will be this: “Freddy Got Fingered.” On April 20, 2001, when that film was released in theaters, American civilization officially began its decline.
Oh, sure, our society had its occasional downturns before. We had Guns ‘n’ Roses, for example, not to mention “Full House” and the years 1970-1979 inclusive. But we always rose up again. With “Freddy Got Fingered,” we have reached the point of no return. We have leapt from the Empire State Building of culture and now await the inevitable splat on the Fifth Avenue of ignorance.
I don’t mean to say this is the worst movie ever made. I cannot make such a declaration, as I have not seen every movie ever made. But I have seen a couple thousand of them, and as sure as the sun hangs in the sky, as sure as no one has ever looked good in a mullet haircut, as sure as Drew Barrymore is a vapid trollop who deserves to be married to Tom Green, it is certainly the worst of those I have seen. There is no question.
Is “Freddy Got Fingered” worse than “Battlefield Earth”? Certainly: “Battlefield Earth” at least was amusing for its unintentional camp value. Is it worse than all the movies ever featured on “Mystery Science Theater 3000”? Exponentially: Those films were made by people who, while incompetent, at least seemed to be trying. Is “Freddy Got Fingered” worse than passing kidney stones made of barbed wire? Yes: At least that would kill you quickly. This movie lasts 90 minutes.
Tom Green is a Canadian immigrant who had a show on MTV for a while, as part of the once-relevant network’s ongoing mission to prove its own obsolescence. On the show, Tom would go out in public and do crazy things to annoy strangers, capturing their reactions on videotape. He would also do gross things like violate dead animals, earning cheap guffaws from … well, the kind of people who watch MTV and think violating dead animals is funny. It’s a show that takes zero creativity and zero talent, putting Tom Green in competition with a piece of bread in terms of who is best qualified to do it.
“Freddy Got Fingered” is sort of a big-screen version of Tom’s TV show. The difference here is that he’s “playing” a “character” named Gord Brody, a 20-something loser who wants to be a cartoonist. (Or a cartoonist who wants to be a loser. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.)
But the movie is really just a series of puerile skits featuring Tom Green committing a host of atrocities. He sexually harasses a horse and an elephant, for example, making you wonder why PETA wastes its time on people who eat animals. He whacks his paralyzed girlfriend in the legs with a stick. He falsely accuses his dad of molesting his younger brother. He delivers a baby against its mother’s will. He sacks Rome in A.D. 455. OK, that was the Vandals. But I’m not entirely convinced that all bad things that have ever happened should not be attributed to Tom Green.
As a movie critic and an American, I have no particular problem with filth and depravity as long as it’s entertaining. “Freddy Got Fingered” is boring, though, as were its recent gross-out cousins, “Say It Isn’t So,” “Tomcats” and “Joe Dirt.” What have we come to as a society when we make a TV star popular enough to get his own film despite his being utterly worthless? Why do we keep encouraging people to make movies that are both figuratively and literally covered in excrement?
Because we’re morons, that’s why. You and me, we’re all morons. We’ll watch anything, read anything, talk about anything, regardless of whether it’s entertaining, uplifting or even tolerable. I take some comfort in knowing “Freddy Got Fingered” made only $7 million its first weekend, but not much. That means 1 million people did see it, which means 1 million more people with whom I cannot be friends. (It was a lengthy list already.)
It’s the beginning of the end, I tell you. The sidewalk’s coming up fast, and the tourists are already gawking. “Freddy Got Fingered”? My friends, we’ve ALL been fingered.
It was nice to be alive at such a historical time: the era of "Freddy Got Fingered." I was not alone in declaring it among the worst films ever made; several other critics agreed with me, and I hope some of the regular citizens did, too.
This also appeared as an "In the Dark" column for The Whiteshoe Irregular, back when "In the Dark" was the name of my occasional movie-themed humor column. (Now, of course, it is the name of my weekly movie e-zine.) I would have used it exclusively for that, but I felt the larger issues warranted discussion in "Snide Remarks." Plus, I had to write "Snide Remarks" twice a week now, and it was hard sometimes.