Cult weirdoes Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim define their small-screen oeuvre with delirious excess and unrepentant weirdness, but their cult television shows look positively austere compared to their cinematic directorial and starring debut, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. The film’s ramshackle plot finds a slicked-up Tim & Eric spending $1 billion on a “film” that doesn’t stand a chance of recouping its budget, especially given its three-minute run time. This naturally enrages the heads of a sinister multinational corporation run by a perpetually apoplectic Robert Loggia.
Tim & Eric desperately need to pay back their billion-dollar debt to Loggia. Thankfully, an opportunity to make exactly that much arrives when eccentric, Top Gun-loving businessman Will Ferrell (who also produced, along with Adam McKay and Chris Henchy) offers anyone an opportunity to make a billion dollars by running a mall so rundown and hellish, it looks like the last commercial enterprise of a post-apocalyptic future. (Or something found in one of Detroit’s nicer neighborhoods.)
The mall’s inhabitants include sickly, semi-feral John C. Reilly, an angry sword-shop proprietor (Will Forte), an incongruously dignified man who runs a used-toilet-paper outlet, and a somewhat-attractive middle-aged woman who inspires intense sexual competition between Tim & Eric. Billion Dollar Movie features one of the most graphic, viscerally unnerving sex scenes in recent memory; it’s a testament to the film’s chutzpah and eagerness to push boundaries that something infinitely more disgusting (involving children, no less) is happening at the same time. Freed from the restrictions of cable television, Tim & Eric are able to let their warped imaginations run wild, and they’ve never been the type to rein themselves in.
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie boasts the courage of its lunatic convictions. Rather than attempting to broaden the duo’s fan base, it seems gleefully intent on scaring away mainstream audiences. In a timid comic world, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie feels genuinely dangerous and transgressive: it makes a virtue of going way too far because other comedies don’t go far enough.
(Now available on Magnolia VOD; in theaters March 2.)