"Movie 43": Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Aptly framed as a hostage-situation film pitch, overseer Peter Farrelly's hodgepodge of roughly collated sketches starts with a bottomed-out director (Dennis Quaid) pulling a gun on some milquetoast studio functionary (Greg Kinnear) and riffing out absurd and obscene ideas. These include an array of perverse couplings — Kate Winslet on a balls-out blind date with Hugh Jackman, Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry taking truth-or-dare too far, Anna Faris and Chris Pratt coping with a messy fetish — plus other low-joke contrivances by which other stars may show us what they're not above. There's tasteless offensive and then there's tasteless bland, and the weird thing about Movie 43 is that so many of its presumptive gross-outs seem so embarrassingly quaint. As if defensive about its own viability in the marketplace of regressed adolescence, the project is peppered with references to Family Guy (including a Seth MacFarlane cameo), and rightly so: Many of these tricks play better in cartoons, if they play at all. Or maybe it's that Farrelly wants credit for having helped transition gleefully sophomoric Zucker-brothers-style humor into the new and by now very possibly exhausted territory of attention-deficit raunch romps. The problem is that Movie 43 is never hilarious; you laugh in spite of it, not in spite of yourself. (J.K.)

 
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