Since the premier of their Adult Swim comedy show in 2007, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have earned a name for themselves as the kings of strange late night comedy. The Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! introduced a brand of humor to modern television that blended crass stoner jokes with intelligent parody. Typified by hilariously uncomfortable acting and intentionally awkward editing, Tim and Eric’s public access TV meets acid trip humor polarized both critics and audiences. Such a niche brand of humor seems unlikely to appeal to a broad audiences, yet in 2012, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie became a reality. With Will Ferrel’s Funnyordie backing the endeavor, the broader exposure left fans and detractors alike wondering if Tim and Eric would adapt their style for the big screen or stay true to their comedy roots.
Tim and Eric’s answer lies somewhere in between selling out and adhering to their predetermined formula. The style of comedy in their feature length film is as over the top as always, throwing all conventions out the window in favor of their own trademark absurdist humor. Still, Tim and Eric wisely choose to stray from the jumpy, schizophrenic editing style of their 11 minute show in favor of a format that accommodates the lengthier viewing time. This film is unlikely to win over any who have previously scorned the duo’s work, but fans of Tim and Eric and fans of eclectic comedy in general will find plenty to love here.
The premise of the movie centers around the titular billion dollar film. Namely that said film is awful. Tim and Eric, playing an exaggerated versions of themselves, are given a billion dollars from the shady Shlaaang Corporation to make a movie. We are immediately treated to a viewing of that film, an incredibly short and poorly made feature starring a Jonny Depp impersonator. The bigwigs at Shlaaang, who were also viewing the movie, are infuriated and demand their money back after finding Tim and Eric’s ludicrous explanation of their out of control spending insufficient. Thus begins Tim and Eric’s adventures as they evade the Shlaaang Corporation and take over a run-down mall in hopes of making back the billion dollars they blew.
The comedy in the Billion Dollar Movie operates on a level as ridiculous and silly as the premise. Strange facial expressions, odd pronunciations, palpable awkwardness, and gross-out gags are all employed liberally. These are all welcome and well known trademarks of Tim and Eric’s comedy, and they usually come across just as hilariously as they do in the duo’s short series. The cinematic format allows the comedians to utilize longer-running jokes that appear throughout the film. Bits like Tim impulsively taking a boy from his father and adopting him as a son would likely be one-off laughs on the Awesome Show, but instead become enjoyable subplots. The one aspect of the transition that comes off awkwardly are the extreme gross-outs. A couple of scenes, namely one involving genital mutilation and another that features a bathtub full of diarrhea, go a little too far and stray from comedy into simply cringe-worthy disgust. These scenes, although few and far between, seem exploitive. They come off as taking advantage of the movie just to do things Tim and Eric couldn’t on TV, and as a result they seem out of place and far to extreme, which is saying something when the film is already so random and over-the-top.
Tim and Eric are certainly masters of their own style of humor by now and their performances are top-notch in their feature film. From bathing together to breaking the fourth wall, they manage the ridiculous content with matched bravado. The Awesome Show is known for having a bevy of celebrity guests to aid the two in their pursuit of the obscene, and the Billion Dollar Movie does not disappoint. The film is chock full of recognizable faces in absurd roles, and the frequent cameos make for some of the most entertaining scenes in the film. Zach Galifianakis makes a brief but memorable appearance as Tim and Eric’s personal shopper, and a confrontation between the three of them near the beginning of the film deserves note as one of the best examples of Tim and Eric’s comedy at its most successful. Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum, and John C. Reilly all lend their talents to memorable parts in the Billion Dollar Movie as well. Still, Will Forte earns the honor of best cameo with the role of a sword shop owner who is resistant to change. As one of the more extensive celebrity roles, his character stays entertaining from his first appearance to the final climax of the film.
Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is not for everyone. Going into the movie, the viewer should be aware of the preexisting comedy style of the Awesome Show, as those who enjoy it will most likely enjoy the movie as well, while those who scorn their comedy style will certainly not be swayed by the film. That being said, the Billion Dollar movie is that style of comedy at its best. Although they occasionally miss the mark with some overly distasteful scenes, they mostly pull off the transition to the big screen with great success. The adjustments made from the format of their Adult Swim show boost the hilarity of the film, and the celebrity guests serve to carry the ludicrous comedy to new heights. Everyone who has ever laughed at a Tim and Eric segment on television or YouTube should definitely check out the Billion Dollar Movie to see their comedy at its most extensive and unfiltered.
Check out the gloriously tacky Billion Dollar Movie official website for more information.