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Blu-ray Review: ‘Movie 43′

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M43Movie 43, a comedy film of small bits packed with big stars, is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Fox Home Video. Couched in a framing story about three boys’ search online for the very illegal and fictional Movie 43, bizarre bits that are supposed to be funny string along with little to no connection between them for about an hour a half.

Depending on whether you watch the theatrical version of the film or the alternate cut, both of which are included on this release, depends on what framing story you get. Either Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid) pitches an ever-changing film to Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear), constantly shifting the characters and premise, or three boys (including The Inbetweeners‘ Mark L. Young) are hacking the internet to find a fictional film called Movie 43 that could destroy the world. Both go meta in a weird way; the other bits of the movie appear to be the same in both editions.

Neither scenario makes much sense, so I do wish the film’s producers had just let the scenes stand on their own. A bunch of different sketches performed by some of the most familiar faces in Hollywood is an intriguing enough concept without forcing them to be strung together. The way this is released, it feels like forced cohesion that doesn’t quite come together.

Because each segment is made by different people, they do feel like they fall across the spectrum, from the absurdly hilarious, to the confusingly weird, to the just plain gross. This is a common issue with every comedy made up of individual segments (just ask Saturday Night Live), and humor is highly subjective, so while I did not enjoy the entire hour and a half, there are some things in Movie 43 that I really loved. Others likely will watch the same movie and value different parts.

The best of the bunch are: “iBabe,” in which a woman (Kate Bosworth) just can’t make a boss (Richard Gere) and his underlings (Aasif Mandvi and Jack McBrayer) understand why teenage boys are getting their body parts mangled in a lower-region fan of an mp3 player that looks like a naked woman; a “Machine Kids” commercial showing sad children hiding inside ATMs and soda vendors; “Super Hero Speed Dating,” in which Batman (Jason Sudeikis) ruins Robin’s (Justin Long) chances with women ranging from Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb) to Supergirl (Kristen Bell); and “Victory’s Glory,” in which a Coach (Terrance Howard) in 1959 faces an uphill battle in convincing a black basketball team they can beat a white one.

I think I like these four because they take something familiar, and turn it on its head in a clever manner. Wonderful performers lose themselves in these roles for a few minutes, doing something most people don’t expect from them, and doing it well. Throughout the segment, the tension and story ramps up, and there are odd twists.

The parts of the film I didn’t like involve sexual pooping, spilled period blood, and incestual make-outs. I can see how this might appeal to others, but it just crosses the line of my taste and goes too far. The point is, though, there is really something for everyone (except those who only like intelligent, witty stuff), with a broad swath of topics and genres.

The cast is amazing, and includes, besides those listed above, Common, Seth MacFarlane, Elizabeth Banks, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, John Hodgman, Anna Faris, Gerard Butler, Snooki, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Emma Stone, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sean William Scott, Uma Thurman, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, and others. It really is a remarkably talented group of people, and while I didn’t appreciate all of the styles of humor represented, I don’t think any cast member felt wooden or out of place in the larger picture.

The extras leave a lot to be desired, unfortunately, Besides a trailer and some previews of other titles, the only bonus included is a cut scene featuring Tony Shaloub and Julianne Moore. This deleted segment is no better or worse than anything in the finished film, so I’m not sure why it isn’t integrated in with the rest.

But what I’d really like to see is the story of how Movie 43 came about, why all of these actors chose to participate, and who championed the idea in the first place. Surely, there is a rich story behind this, given the scope of the project, and I’m very curious about the back story, which is not revealed on this disc.

As far as Blu-ray quality, the picture and effects are great, but there isn’t a lot to push boundaries. It’s a very typical film, visually, with character-driven scenes, so aside from liking a crisp, clear image, there isn’t much argument to made on DVD vs. Blu-ray. The format is consistent, and I didn’t notice any static or graininess from either picture or sound. However, neither is there anything super impressive that makes use of an advanced playback system. Nor would I really expect there to be in this type of movie.

Movie 43 is available now as a two-disc Blu-ray, DVD, digital download combo pack.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com