“I am going to murder myself if you don’t come down to my new fucking mall,” shouts Eric Wareheim in the red-band trailer for his film, “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” Blackmail by threat of suicide may seem like an odd way to market your first feature, but then again, Wareheim and his co-star Tim Heidecker traffic in odd comedic behavior.
“Billion Dollar Movie” is a spin-off of the duo’s Adult Swim program, “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” Each 15-minute episode smashes any preconceived notions you had about comedy through a variety of do-it-yourself sketches and bizarre back-and-forth banter.
For someone used to the more mainstream stylings of an Adam Sandler or Judd Apatow, Wareheim and Heidecker probably could strike you as unfunny, offensive, confusing or all of the above. As such, the reactions to the first trailer for “Billion Dollar Movie” have been divisive: fans of the program laugh hysterically at it, while others feel completely lost and angry that this thing even exists in the first place.
But then there’s the middle ground: the non-partisan moviegoer intrigued by a quirky comedy film that features -- some say inexplicable -- appearances by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly.
For that small group of folks, Moviefone is here with a handy beginner’s guide before you venture out and see the film. Below, six important pointers for viewing “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” [A few spoilers ahead].
1. Tim and Eric’s comedy is a mix of public access television, ‘80s educational videos, bad infomercials and the best bizarre viral videos on YouTube
Ever watched public access TV or QVC at 3 a.m.? Do you find it funny? Well, that’s a start. The low quality and oddball products hawked on these channels in the middle of the night are exactly the type of thing Tim and Eric strive to reproduce. Other sketches involve spoofs on ‘80s videos they once showed in school, complete with cheesy graphics and music you typically hear in a doctor’s waiting room. (The Gravy Robbers sketch, starring Zach Galifianakis, is a perfect example of this.)
Finally, if you enjoy watching goofy YouTube videos of people doing strange things (like this one), you’ll likely enjoy at least some of “Tim and Eric.” Many of their sketches are filled with amateur actors and failed comedians. Take for instance show regular David Liebe Hart, a singing puppeteer who writes music about aliens.
2. Tim and Eric want to make you uncomfortable
Part of the joke -- or sometimes all of it -- weighs on the audience feeling as awkward and uncomfortable as possible. For example, let’s use “Cinco Boy,” one the more popular bits on “Awesome Show.” In it, Peter Stormare (better known as the guy who put Steve Buscemi in a wood chipper in “Fargo”) hawks a mannequin dressed like a boy to grieving parents who’ve lost their son. As Wareheim said in a 2009 profile with Wired, “The last thing we want people to do while watching the show is relax,” with Heidecker adding, “Things get scary sometimes. And that’s when you’re supposed to laugh and say, ‘What is this doing on a comedy show?’”
To give you a hint of the type of uncomfortable jokes you’re going to see in “Billion Dollar Movie,” get ready for genital piercing and lots of rotten food being eaten.
3. You don’t have to be stoned to enjoy this movie
A common misconception about “Tim and Eric” is that you have to be under the influence of some mind-altering substance to understand/enjoy what’s going on. While that may be partially true with “Awesome Show,” it’s not with “Billion Dollar Movie.” While the film certainly features its share of herb-friendly antics, it also has structure and plot. As Heidecker told Moviefone, “We didn't go out actively trying to push people away. We wanted this movie to be inclusive to an extent, where you didn't have to be kind of an expert on ‘Tim and Eric’ to get the joke. And we wanted it to feel like a real movie.”
4. They take this seriously … but not too seriously
The comedy may seem totally random and improvisational, but Tim and Eric approach each bit with some seriousness. Take a sketch called “Spank Me,” which the duo discussed in the aforementioned Wired article:
“In my mind,” says Heidecker ... “it’s more about us getting spanked than us spanking.” … “Yeah,” says Wareheim … “We don’t get off just by spanking others.”
However, Tim and Eric are in the business of making comedy, so they have no problem using self-deprecation to make people laugh. In a recent interview with Esquire, Warheim admits “One thing we've been very conscious of from the beginning is making ourselves look as horrible as possible, whether it be our bodies or our costuming or our attitudes. We're monsters.
5. Famous actors -- especially comedians -- love their work
“Awesome Show” is known for having famous guest appearances, and “Billion Dollar Movie is no different. The film features cameos by Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Zach Galifianakis, Will Forte and Jeff Goldblum.
On top of that, Tim and Eric have been promoting the movie by having actors and musicians sign a pledge to go see their film instead of the “The Lorax” (both movies open this weekend). Among those who've participated are Paul Rudd, Ben Stiller, Elijah Wood, Seth Green, Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones, Fred Armisen and Maroon 5.
6. Still, "Billion Dollar Movie" is not for everyone
Even if you are leaning toward seeing this film, just remember that Tim and Eric’s off kilter-comedy is not for everyone. If you don’t find poop jokes -- or really anything that would make an seven-year-old laugh -- funny, you aren’t going to enjoy this movie (seriously, there is a lot of fake excrement in "Billion Dollar Movie"). Also -- SPOILER -- there is a scene where an elderly lady gets her finger sawed off.
Well, there you have it folks: If you've decided to brave the "Tim and Eric" experience, you can check out "Billion Dollar Movie" in select theaters this weekend or on VOD.