TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
I feel like I’ve come late to the party with this whole Tim & Eric thing. In fact, I’ve come so late that they’ve already got a feature film, and this is the first time I’ve heard of them. To be accurate, I first heard of Tim & Eric when their “Billion Dollar Movie” was making its limited theatrical run, and I saw it on the marquee at the local campus movie theater while catching a midnight show. It wasn’t enough to get me to buy a ticket, but I was curious nonetheless.
When it finally hit Blu-ray, I took my opportunity to check it out. And while it’s not the funniest or cleverest movie ever made, it brought a few good laughs to my morning.
“Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” follows the titular comedy duo who were given a billion dollars by a Mafia-type movie studio to make a blockbuster hit. However, after squandering their budget on nonsensical gurus, Hollywood make-overs, unnecessarily expensive props and costumes, as well as a Johnny Depp look-alike actor, they go on the run. As the studio tries to get them to pay back the billion dollars, Tim and Eric become a PR firm that decides to strike it rich by revitalizing a dilapidated mall.
Made famous on Adult Swim and Funny or Die, Tim & Eric have cornered a small fan base that will help this film live in cult movie status for quite some time. For someone like myself, who hadn’t seen any of their bits on Adult Swim, it is at least relateable.
The humor balances between obnoxious in-your-face crassness and dry, awkward deliveries. The elements I enjoyed the most was the film’s ability to both skewer the often moronic decisions made by massive movie studios while also satirizing the pointless yet overused aspects of a private PR firm. This leads the film to be a strange cross between “Get Shorty” and “Office Space,” yet having its own unique flavor.
Tim and Eric have enough cache in the comedy world to fill their movie with notable actors in small parts or cameos, including John C. Reilly, Will Ferrell, Robert Loggia and Jeff Goldblum. It does not shy away from gross-out humor, but the comedy is not hinged on that. It’s R-rated for sure, but the most biting satire delivers often rests on situational gags that are just uncomfortable and surprisingly clean.
Special features include a commentary with Tim and Eric, along with a slate of deleted and extended scenes. There’s trailers, a poster gallery, a photo gallery and promotional videos. Featurettes include an interview with Tim & Eric, HDNet’s “A Look at Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” and “Good Evening S’Wallow Valley.” Finally, for those who want enlightenment, there’s a Shrim Dance Screensaver.
Blu-ray Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Sometimes, movies can be ambitious simply by mixing certain elements from different formulas. However, ambition alone can’t make a good film, and if those elements are poorly put together and not fully realized, it can become less than the sum of its already tired parts.
“Playback” is one of those films. While it has some interesting ideas, even if we’ve seen them before, there is some potential in layering these ideas in an interesting way. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The elements include found footage horror, teens investigating a famous local murder and demonic possession. I’ve seen these story elements played out in a lot of 80s horror films (like the lackluster “Shocker,” for example) as well as more recent new classics (like “The Ring” and its associated films).
The story follows a group of high school students recreating a local murder that took place several years ago. They get an outcast who works at a local television station to help them, later discovering that he is (rather inexplicably) connected to a smarmy cop who collects voyeur videos. As they dig deeper into the murder case, it seems that the evil entity that is behind the crimes is haunting the very videos and trying to emerge back into reality.
“Playback” is a needlessly hard film to follow with such a relatively simple premise. Even after watching it, I’d be hard-pressed to explain what any particular character’s motivation is.
The entire movie feels tired because it borrows from other films that got full theatrical releases, but it never expands beyond just borrowing the ideas. In a strange way, it plays out like it’s been made by someone who idolizes Wes Craven. It samples elements from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films as well as his lesser known and less effective horror movies like the aforementioned “Shocker” and the anemic “My Soul to Take.”
The inclusion of Christian Slater to the cast might have helped get funding and offers a recognizable name to put on a cover box. However, his character seems irrelevant to the whole story, and he seems to be included as an afterthought during script development.
For such a relatively simple story, “Playback” is a convoluted mess with no scare, no thrills and not even the exploitative elements of boobs and blood to really capture a horror fan’s attention.
The Blu-ray comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette, along with a photo gallery, trailer and the HDNet featurette “A Look at Playback.”
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