Stupid is as stupid does in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, an inane feature length extension of the comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s Adult Swim sketch comedy show. Through a series of grotesque infomercials, Family Guy-style tangents, and gross-out gags, Billion Dollar Movie achieves a level of idiocy unmatched by any film in years. This would be perfectly acceptable if the material were actually funny, or contained an ounce of intelligent subtext. Yet the Swiss-cheese plot is anything but, following the obnoxious titular characters as they botch a mega-production funded by gangsters and attempt to refund the lost budget by operating a mid-west shopping mall mired in economic distress. But no matter the narrative particulars, Tim and Eric consistently embrace a juvenile sense of morality and logic, committing disturbing acts of indecency without any regret or justification. It all adds up to an overlong inside joke.
Most of Billion Dollar Movie is made up of vulgar vignettes set inside the aforementioned dilapidated arena of commerce, a post-apocalyptic space that feels like a cast-off set from Dawn of the Dead. Here, Tim and Eric take advantage of the blue-collar shopkeepers, promising them hope and delivering only contempt. Their transformation from dim-witted artists to corporate thugs is supposed to be alarming, but only confirms the filmmaker’s rampant self-indulgence. Desperately reaching for satire at every turn, Billion Dollar Movie attempts to skewer corporate America and capitalism by relying entirely on bodily fluid jokes and narrative incoherence as a crutch. One particularly lame subplot, where Tim forces the mall janitor to give up his son so he can be the boy’s surrogate father, is especially confounding in that it paints the modern American family as helpless and easily defeated. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
Rampant baffoonery and nonsensical tirades are Billion Dollar Movie’s stock and trade, exhausting the viewer with its relentlessness and misanthropy. These are not characters as much as they are symbols of malcontent, ciphers of nastiness constructed entirely for shock value alone. Even worse, Heidecker and Wareheim waste an impressive supporting cast that includes Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Robert Loggia, and William Atherton, rendering them all inert human byproducts of a purposefully random comedy style that cannot be controlled or excused. So can Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, with its lack of cinematic style or comedic pacing/timing, can even be considered a film in the first place? I’d wager no, since it completely fails to engage the film viewer on even the most elemental level.