The Turin Horse not excepted, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, a comedy, is the most startlingly apocalyptic film of the year. As in their Adult Swim Awesome Show, the abiding aesthetic is free-associative channel-surfing, owing something to the public-access mash-ups of TV Carnage (the attrition of this is significantly greater at feature length.) Tim and Eric's dump truck disgorging of retro-trash imagery reflects our mass-media landscape still suffering the fallout of the 1980s pop-culture catastrophe. The conceit here is that stars-directors-writers Heidecker and Wareheim get run out of L.A. after squandering a billion-dollar film budget. To recoup their losses, they give themselves a grotesque corporate makeover and take on the management of a near-dead mall in no-man's-land America, whose residents include a Top Gun-obsessed outgoing manager (Will Ferrell) and a sickly man-boy, Taquito (John C. Reilly). In every swelling musical cue, Billion Dollar Movie displays open contempt for friendship, family, love, sex, heroism, and everything lofty and beautiful that multiplex movies have reduced to cant. Such derision will be largely greeted with the same — it's an inside joke for a self-selecting inside audience — but Billion Dollar Movie shares its disdain for the mechanics of movie storytelling with nonsense classics like Million Dollar Legs or Hellzapoppin. If it matches neither in anarchic imagination, Heidecker and Wareheim should still be applauded for pure destructive impulse, the healthy urge of this sick movie.
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