Freddy Got Fingered (United States, 2001)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Before I embark upon an extended streak of name-calling and Tom Green-bashing, let me say a few words about the subjective nature of comedy. Everyone has a different opinion of exactly what constitutes good humor. For some people, it's Victor Borga. For others, it's Monty Python. And for still others, it's Tom Green. (Hopefully, those in the latter category aren't numerous.) I like to think that I have a fairly broad-based sense of humor (I suppose everyone says the same thing). I can laugh equally hard at Mark Russell, This Is Spinal Tap, American Pie, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Green, however, doesn't do anything for me. On those rare occasions when my channel surfing has brought me to his MTV show, I have rarely stopped for more than a minute or two before moving on. I'm sure Green fans, inasmuch as there are Green fans, will delight in the cesspool that is Freddy Got Fingered. The film probably delivers what they are expecting.

Having said that, however, I have to report that this motion picture is arguably the worst piece of cinematic crap I have ever experienced theatrically. Hyperbole, you wonder? I looked through my list of zero-star movies and couldn't find one entry (except the immortal Zombie Vs. Mardi Gras, which was a straight-to-video release) that ranked as more difficult to endure. Words like abomination and travesty don't do this movie justice. Sitting through Freddy Got Fingered was one of the most depressing experiences in my 10 years of reviewing films. It's not even enjoyable on a campy level. It's just bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad.

Freddy Got Fingered takes gross-out humor to a new low. In the process, it uncovers another layer of the MPAA's inconsistency. How could anything this foul be granted an R-rating? Eyes Wide Shut, Requiem for a Dream, and The War Zone were all awarded NC-17s in their original cuts, but Freddy Got Fingered is given an R? What are the members of the ratings board inhaling?? And it's not as if the humor is so subtle that they could have missed something.

At any rate, Freddy Got Fingered is so awful that it turns the likes of Battlefield Earth and 3000 Miles to Graceland into pretenders to the label of a bad movie. It makes American Pie appear like a representation of high brow comedy, and fools us into thinking that Pink Flamingos is a bastion of good taste. Most depressing of all, as I was sitting through Freddy Got Fingered, the idea occurred to me that it might be preferable to sneak into the theater next door to watch Josie and the Pussycats a second time.

Is there a plot? I suppose, although it's just a flimsy excuse to allow writer/director/star Tom Green to spend time mugging for the camera and doing his X-rated comedy sketches. Green plays Gord Brody, a loser who goes to Hollywood to become a star cartoonist. When things don't work out, he moves back in with his Dad (Rip Torn - whose reputation gets both ripped and torn) and Mom (Julie Hagerty), but a running feud develops between him and dear old Dad. Meanwhile, Gord gets a girlfriend, Betty (Marisa Coughlan in a career-killing performance), who's confined to a wheelchair and is obsessed with performing oral sex on him. In the end, everything turns out all right - especially for those who have long since escaped the theater to do something better with their time.

I don't understand Tom Green's appeal, nor do I comprehend who comprises his target demographic. Infants? (The silly expressions and incessant repetition of words would go over well with them.) Teenage boys? Drew Barrymore? People who are drunk, stoned, or both? Maybe the criteria is that you need to be two of the above. There is nothing here about Green that I find funny (although I liked him in Road Trip). Maybe it's that he tries too hard for laughs, or that his few potentially funny bits are far too obvious. As I said, comedy is subjective, and watching this guy do his shtick makes me feel like I'm being subjected to some form of inhuman torture. He's the most irritating and repugnant thing to come from MTV since Pauly Shore. Check that... Shore never made anything as bad as Freddy Got Fingered. In fact, Ed Wood never made something this unwatchable.

In his attempts to introduce movie-goers to things they have never before viewed inside the hallowed halls of the local multiplex, Green gives us some cinematic moments that seem destined to become classics. For example, there's the time he parks his car by the side of the road for no apparent reason, then runs over to a nearby horse and masturbates it. Or later, when he does the same thing to an elephant so he can use its ejaculation as a weapon. Or when he licks the exposed bone in his friend's leg injury. There is also a running joke about child molestation, and a young kid who is constantly being knocked down, hit in the face, or smashed in the head (with the result usually being copious amounts of blood). It has been said (and rightfully so) that any topic can be the fodder for humor, as long as the treatment is funny. However, just because something is shocking and offensive doesn't make it worthy of laughter. No none involved with Freddy Got Fingered learned that lesson.

The screenplay has an obvious love of the word "fuck." It is used in all of its permutations: noun, verb, adjective, adverb. I think every actor (except perhaps Julie Hagerty) has to say it more than once. Those intrigued by the versatility of the word may want to investigate this film (there's no other reason to do so). On one occasion, the picture actually puts it to good use. About five minutes before the end credits, during a crowd scene, one extra holds up a placard reading "When the fuck is this movie going to end?" It's something I'm sure just about every audience member was wondering. The answer: about two hours too late. At any length, Freddy Got Fingered would be too long. I'm just sorry there's nothing nasty enough that I can write in this review to suitably repay everyone involved in the ruination of 90 minutes of my life. I have gotten better entertainment value from a colonoscopy.

Freddy Got Fingered (United States, 2001)

Director: Tom Green
Cast: Tom Green, Rip Torn, Julie Hagerty, Marisa Coughlan, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Harland Williams
Screenplay: Tom Green & Derek Harvie
Cinematography: Mark Irwin
Music: Mike Simpson
U.S. Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 1:27
U.S. Release Date: 2001-04-20
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1