Movie 43 follows in a tradition of movies that aren't really all that well remembered. Devotion to similar comedic anthology movies like Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women from the Moon seems pretty rare, and even then, the love comes with plenty of caveats. Given that, Movie 43 could have been really interesting, the movie featuring an astounding level of comedic talent. Unfortunately, it doesn't try to rise above its roots, and just doubles down on really insipid, immature humor.
The movie is collection of short comedic sketches. There is a framing device for all this, but the movie hardly ever goes back to it. So these sketches basically operate on their own.
Sadly, the movie doesn't have very many good sketches. Many of them suffer from a lack of elevation. The first sketch, for example, features Kate Winslet on a date with Hugh Jackman, who happens to have a scrotum hanging from his neck. It's kind of a funny, if juvenile premise, but it doesn't really go much further than that single visual gag. It might have been funny to explore why Jackman has a scrotum hanging from his neck, or find out what life with that particular deformity is like, but the sketch just stops at Winslet's discomfort.
The same can be said of many of the other segments. In another bit, a high school basketball team composed of black players feels nervous about going up against their first all-white team, at which point Terrence Howard comes in to tell them that they're going to win because they're black. It's a funny idea, but the movie goes nowhere with it. It just has to Howard driving a single punchline into the ground.
The one bit that offers just a shade of ambition has Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber playing parents to a home schooled teenager. The segment has a weirdly dark edge to it that separates it from the rest of the movie, fully committing to the most deranged aspects of the concept. But this sequence is an exception. None of the other sketches bear the same sense of dangerous escalation. And even this sequence kind of falls flat on the landing.
The movie's general lack of inspiration is even more egregious when one considers the talent involved. It really is hard to imagine how the likes of Winslet and Jackman got roped into this disaster. But it's really more disappointing to see generally great comedic actors squandered with these lowbrow concepts. Chris Pratt and Anna Faris are wasted on the film's most scatological segment. Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long are downright embarrassing in a dreadful bit that has them playing Batman and Robin.
Movie 43 didn't really have much to live up to, but it's a disappointment all the same. The names involved would suggest some appeal, at least, some measure of inspiration that would such draw such acclaimed stars to the project. But inspiration is short in Movie 43. The talent is squandered on some of the hackiest, laziest comedic material ever committed to celluloid.