Film Reviews

Too Green

If you don't like Tom Green, there's no point going anywhere near Freddy Got Fingered. It's not likely to make a convert out of you. If you don't know much about Tom Green but are curious, you might be well advised to watch videotapes of his show first, and be aware that inasmuch as it is still possible to offend the American moviegoer, this film does. If, however, you're a fan of Tom Green, it probably won't surprise you to learn the film is a somewhat disjointed affair that, like the man himself, is occasionally brilliant, frequently repetitive and sometimes merely annoying.

It's hard to know where the American gross-out comedy can go from here, and it's scary to even contemplate. Semen hair gel has been one-upped by pie humping, which in turn was one-upped by Scary Movie's sperm fountain and hanging gonads. In Freddy Got Fingered, Tom Green performs explicit hand jobs on animals, swings a newborn baby around by its placenta, and licks people's open wounds. As in all the gross-out movies that preceded this one, these scenes get automatic laughs for their sheer audacity, but the infant gag in particular is at least as disturbing as it is funny. You may laugh, but you'll probably hate yourself for it.

At least Green doesn't hold back from ridiculing himself. In one scene, as he flirts with a cute nurse (Marisa Coughlan), he asks her if hospitals are always this fun. "No," she chirps back, "sometimes people die of cancer!" (For good measure, and so as not to miss a gross-out opportunity, Green's own cancer surgery footage later appears on-screen.) And there is that scene in which his new real-life wife, Drew Barrymore, puts in a cameo solely to aggressively reject his advances. (They kiss and make up in a gratuitous postcredits outtake.)

The plot, what little there is, will be familiar to viewers of Green's TV show: Would-be animator Gord (Green) moves back in with his parents, where he proceeds to torment them with his weird antics. Unlike in real life, however, Gord's father, Jim (Rip Torn, game and fearless), proves to be a raging psychopath (think Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents times ten), simultaneously prompting Gord to doubt his own ability and to plot elaborate revenge pranks, one of which is alluded to in the film's title. But since it doesn't occur until at least an hour into the film, you'll have to figure it out for yourself.

Green's on-screen gags have always come in several different flavors, all of which are offered here. There's the elaborate prank, like the time he snuck into an art gallery, hung his own painting on the wall and returned the next day to deface it. There's the simple gross-out, usually involving a dead animal or putting something disgusting in his mouth. And of course there's lots of yelling and repetition of certain words until they have lost all meaning. Now, because he's freed from both TV standards and the "reality" setup of his own show, he can add a new category: a character sustaining grievous bodily harm, screaming in pain as the blood spurts and yelling "Fuck!" over and over.

This would perhaps be funnier if there were any real characters in the movie, but beyond Gord and his dad, there's no character development whatsoever. Green really needs a straight man; TV sidekick Glenn Humplik is sorely missed, and the film's funniest routines involve exchanges with "normal" folk. As director, Green even manages to make nutso comedian Harland Williams (Rocketman) seem kinda…. dull. MTV's "making of the movie" special, in which Green pokes fun at his actual cast and crew, delivers more frequent laughs than the film itself.

Beyond that, there's a big difference between acting like a loon in a public place and doing so on a soundstage with actors. Green doesn't seem to fully understand that difference yet. His cameos in Road Trip and Charlie's Angels were more consistently amusing than his role here, though let it be said that when Freddy Got Fingered works, it really works. Too bad, then, that those moments are, at best, sporadic.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Luke Y. Thompson