Written by, Directed by, and Starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
Movies that have their origins in sketch troupes don’t exactly have the best of track records. For every Brain Candy, there’s more than enough Run Ronnie Runs, It’s Pats, and The Ladies Men to… well, to make it so that watching such movies is usually an exercise in lowering expectations that could rival the National Limbo Championship’s sudden-death round. Thankfully, Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is more the former than the latter.
The main plot, Tim and Eric’s(Tim and Eric) quest to make a billion dollars to pay off Tommy Schlaaang(Robert Loggia), having wasted a billion of Mr. Schlaaang’s dollars on the titular Billion Dollar Movie, a three-minute adaptation of a poem staring a Johnny Depp impersonator(Not The Real Johnny Depp) who wears a diamond-coated suit in Paris, mostly serves to chain together beautifully awkward setpieces, from Damian Weems'(Will Ferrel) astoundingly transparent misleading commercial offering a billion dollars to a man(or possibly 2 men) who will agree to run his mall, to the Understanding Your Movie segments with reenactment straight out of an employee training video, to the horrifying shrim scene. However, this isn’t used as an excuse to half-ass the plot, as Schlaaang’s scenes are some of the best in the film, just seething cruel corporate malice. This film has a lot of really great cameos, from Ray Wise as the leader of the Shrim healing center to Will Forte as an ill-tempered sword salesman, but Loggia stands out as the best performance.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD, IF YOU CARE ABOUT THAT TYPE OF THING
I love the set design, especially in the Swallow Valley Mall, which I’m convinced was an actual shithole mall. It just captures this sense of absolute despair and desolation, like walking into the shitty K-Mart at just the wrong time of day, where the lights don’t even seem all the way on, and you have this sort of gnawing feeling that you might have walked into a closed store. And once Tim and Eric get to cleaning it up, there’s this great effect where the lingering despair, even after they’ve cleared out the squatters, still contrasts with the hollow, bland corporate aesthetic of DOBIS P.R., the makeshift company Tim and Eric start after seeing visions of Market Research, Strategic P.R., Profit And Loss, and the words DOING BUISNESS, which are portmanteuized into DOBIS. And that sort of hollowness never really goes away.
This corporate hollowness is also contrasted with an astounding cruelty on the part of Tim and Eric, including Tim stealing a man’s son right in front of him and raising him as his own while Eric destroys the man’s family buisness. Both Tim and Eric are pretty heartless characters. Their treatment of Taquito(John C. Reilly), the sick feral child who lives in the mall eating unrefrigerated taquitos and built his own Taqutor is perhaps the biggest example of this, as they lure him in with the promise of love and respect only to effectively feed him to a wolf, and he ends up being shot multiple times in the torso while covered in pizza because Weems doesn’t care enough about the child he apparently came to love as a son to grant him a swift death, instead prolonging his suffering for the sake of an open-casket funeral.
This is an astoundingly dark and cruel film, and some of the jokes go a little long, but on the whole the good outweighs the bad, and if you’re a fan of Tim and Eric’s show, this is worth at least a try.
Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Netflix Instant.