Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
For those uninitiated into the wild, wonderful and sometimes downright disturbing world of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, this film will probably make about as much sense as a large woman stomping around a lake shouting “SHRIM!”. Which is, as you might have guessed, an actual thing that happens in this film. Surprisingly, though, Tim and Eric – stars of the fabulously bizarre TV series Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! – have actually toned down their weirdness for their first bigscreen venture, making a film that they themselves describe as being as mainstream as they can possibly get. Which is not mainstream at all, really. But there you are. Tim and Eric are weird and hilarious, as is their Billion Dollar Movie.
Best buds Tim and Eric (playing themselves) have, for some reason, been given a billion dollars by Hollywood bigwig Tommy Schlaaang (Loggia) to make a blockbuster movie. The only problem is they have squandered the majority of that billion on themselves, spending it on diamonds, spiritual guru Jim Joe Kelly (Galifianakis) and some extreme Hollywood makeovers (see below). All of which has resulted in their planned blockbuster coming in at three minutes long and featuring a lead performance from a Johnny Depp impersonator. A furious Schlaaang declares that Tim and Eric must pay back every penny and – upon seeing an advert to take over management of the floundering S’Wallow Valley Mall in return for, yes you guessed it, a billion dollars – the duo take off to gain back their fortune.
Tim and Eric’s world, as you might have grasped, is one entirely constructed from the kind of troubling thoughts that occur to you in that odd state between sleeping and waking; you know, those ones that make you concerned about what kinda messed up shit is residing in your unconscious brain. It is a world inhabited by characters with names like Taquito (John C Reilly) and Chef Goldblum (Jeff Goldblum). It is a place in which logic does not apply, in which the lead characters sometimes speak directly to camera to explain a filmmaking decision, and are responsible for multiple murders, including the midair explosion of a child. NORMAL RULES DO NOT APPLY HERE.
Thus, if you really allow yourself be ushered into Tim and Eric’s wonderfully weird world, you’ll find it hard to be actually offended by any of the nonsense that takes place. Eric getting a Prince Albert piercing, Schlaaang cutting into an old lady’s fingers, an orgy involving multiple sex toys, a group of young boys defecating onto a man in a bathtub – all of these moments, despite sounding more horrifying than the combined efforts of the two Human Centipede films, are actually so absurdly heightened that they barely raise a flinch. It’s just too mad to take seriously.
That’s not to say that all these portions of the film are funny. The most consistently hilarious moments actually centre on the expertly finessed physical comedy of Heidecker and Wareheim. Quite frequently the script falls a little below par, and these moments are often saved by a well selected grimace from Tim or an awkward, stiff-legged stance from Eric. Even better are those moments in which shots of the duo’s gurning, groaning rubber faces are interspersed with the deadpan expressions of other cast members, those who you could almost believe just wandered onto the set from the real world.
In a way this juxtaposition of the surreal with the real is representative of why Tim and Eric’s particular brand of comedy works. They’re all about setting themselves against those people who respond to their jokes with blank looks and faint disdain. Their Billion Dollar Movie is the equivalent of a drunk clown pushing its way, farting, bellowing and gurning, into a room of sharp-suited, po-faced businessmen and managing to raise a stifled giggle out of just one of them. It’s the fact that so many people don’t find Tim and Eric funny that makes them so hilarious.
It’s also the impressive simplicity of a lot of Tim and Eric’s comedy that works in their favour. How is it, for instance, that one to-the-camera glance from Tim can cause cinema-wide hysterics? It may sound reductive, but all comedy is at some level about people making funny faces at each other. And isn’t that the hardest thing to do well time and time again? Tim and Eric may be weirdos, but they’re weirdos who have honed their craft to an expert level. And though this may be humour at its most dirty, its most base, it’s also, in many ways, humour at its most sophisticated. You can quote me on that.