Freddy Got Fingered (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Tom Green is truly a genius.
Once every generation or so, some major change occurs in an art form. People come along who stretch the boundaries of that art form and take it to new heights, or depths. Before Albert Brooks, George Carlin, Andy Kaufman, and Richard Pryor came along, stand-up was Alan King and Milton Berle and Henny Youngman, who were doing their variations of the same familiar material in the same old familiar style that George Burns and Bob Hope had been doing for years, and had stolen from Will Rogers.
Take my wife ...
What about that Janet Reno, eh? ....
And I wanna tell ya ....
It was pretty funny sometimes, but it was safe, and boring.
|Then Brooks and Pryor and
Carlin reinvented stand-up.
Brooks played each of his routines in a different character, and they were perfect little five minute plays.
Pryor and Carlin often stayed in character as themselves, but threw out all the artificial mother-in-law crap and started to talk honestly about the things that people really thought about: race, sex, violence, hatred, dirty words, drugs, sex, sex ....
|And then there was the
supreme genius of the art form.
Andy Kaufman probably was the only person ever to become famous as a "performance artist". As Tony Clifton or as the intergender wrestling champ, he knew exactly how to get audiences involved in his material, but he chose to make the audiences hate him. He did no jokes, the crowd despised him, and yet it was brilliant, and in the final analysis, it redefined what was funny. That's what geniuses do. They redefine. One does not become a genius by following the path already cleared and approved by others. One makes the path for others to follow.
Kaufman did two of the most brilliant pieces I've ever heard of.
In one club show, he brought out Richard Beymer, the guy who played Tony in West Side Story, and had him explain that he never could understand why the producers of that movie wouldn't let him do his own singing, and that the dubbing had destroyed his credibility, thus his career, and he was now working at a car wash or something. What made the bit work was that it really was Beymer, he was instantly recognizable, and the guy seemed perfectly sincere, so the audience forgot they were watching an Andy Kaufman show. Beymer then proceeded to demonstrate to the audience his proof that he should have been allowed to perform - by singing the most god-awful off-key coyote-howlin' version of Maria ever conceived. Beymer stayed in character, seeming to think he was great. Is that funny? I don't know, but it is sheer genius, because the audience wanted to laugh at this poor schmuck, but they couldn't because he really seemed to mean it. Kaufman wanted Beymer to repeat the outrageous bit in a nationwide TV show, but Beymer drew the line at making a complete ass of himself and detailing his career failings in front of a few people, and would not perform it for millions, not to mention millions more in the future.
The other great forgotten Andy bit was a Tony Clifton routine, where Clifton came out with his own daughter (apparently a young teen), talked about what a poor father he had been, and how he would change. He then reconciled with the girl, hugged her tearfully, and asked if she'd like to sing with him like she did when she was little. He got the audience eating out of his hand. Then he sang a few bars, she sang a few bars, the audience was in tears. Then she missed a few notes in the harmony, and he berated her. Too ardently. The audience got uncomfortable. Then she missed a few more notes, and he beat the shit out of her, and the performance became a nightmare. The audience was horrified, then they realized they had been had, and then were even more horrified.
Now that's genius.
Tom Green has that kind of genius. Oh, sure, people hate him. People hated Andy, too.
I saw Green on one Canadian talk show when his "comedy" was to bring out a real dead raccoon (or some similar-sized animal, I can't remember), and an electric razor, and shave the dead raccoon on the host's desk. That was not rehearsed. The host literally puked all over the floor next to the desk, and he wasn't acting. All through the routine, Green was waving the dead animal at the actress/model next to him, some Rebecca Romijn wannabee. I don't believe that was a stuffed animal. It was apparent from the reactions that it had a putrid stench. Is there anyone else in the world who would do that schtick? No. Green has the wildest imagination in comedy, and is probably the most completely fearless guy on the battlefield. In a world full of pablum, Green is a hunk of raw meat, daring you to eat it. Maybe you'll get trichinosis. Maybe the meat is fetid. But, by God, maybe, just maybe, you'll become reacquainted with your DNA and set pablum aside.
In Freddy got Fingered, Green plays a guy who finally leaves his parents' basement at age 28 to make his way in show business. Pretty much his own life story. On his way to Hollywood, he sees a horse, notices what a giant cock it has, and just has to stop to jerk the horse off. Who the hell else would think of that? That's pretty much what the whole movie was like. Non-sequitur scene, gross-out joke, repeat as necessary.
Is the movie any good? God, no. It is absolutely atrocious. Berardinelli and Ebert both gave it NO stars. It got 10% positive reviews.
Even I had to say it stunk, but for the opposite reason from most critics. I didn't think it was gross enough. I would have laughed if Green had blown the horse, but a simple hand-job? C'mon! Anybody can do that.
Seriously, can you imagine how much normal people hate this movie? I have Tom Green's sense of humor, and I think he's a genius, but I thought this movie sucked. So imagine how much you will hate it.
Why does this film, despite Green's fearlessness and his inventiveness, completely stink?
I'll try out my hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: Green should stop performing, unless he has a specific bit that is perfect for his style. He just isn't Jim Carrey or Nathan Lane or Robin Williams or John Belushi. People just don't like him, and there's no variety in his act. When his concepts are good, he generally spoils them with his overacting, and his mindless repetition. He performs every scene exactly like every other scene - just repeating stuff until it becomes annoying. As the movie Johnny Dangerously might have said, that was funny once - ONCE! And that one time was several years ago. He has no concept of warmth or likeability. Andy Kaufman could be detestable, but only when he was playing a character that was supposed to be detestable. Latka was loveable. De Foreign Man from Caspiar was pathetic and sweet. Andy was really an actor, and a pretty damned good singer as well. Tom Green is always Tom Green - aloof, detestable, repetitious, annoying. That has a place in comedy, but probably not occupying 90% of the running time of a feature.
Hypothesis 2: Green needs an additional co-writer if he wants to do plot-driven humor. He has wild comic invention, but nothing to string his bits together cohesively. He has no concept of structure or character. If I were Green, I would sketch out a basic plotline, hire someone to write a real script with real human characters in it, then I'd come along and re-write my central character, and add my dumb stuff that nobody else could possibly think of. Then I'd let my co-writer give me feedback on how to integrate my stuff. I wouldn't let him talk me out of jerking the horse off, but we'd have to figure out how to use the bold shock to get maximum humorous effect without destroying the character development.
Hypothesis 3: There is no need for him to direct. What does his direction add to the humor? It was OK, but why not leave it to the professionals and concentrate on concepts?.
Hey, Tommy. You can't act. You can't direct. You can't write a screenplay. Your comedy performing is stale. But you think up the craziest, funniest, silliest shit in the world. So do that, and don't do the other stuff you suck at. If you feel like performing, perform only as the character "Tom Green", at which you are excellent.
Or continue to make more crap like this. Whichever you prefer.
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