‘Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie’ Great Job? Tough Call

by Eric Melin on March 2, 2012

in Print Reviews,Reviews

For seven seasons, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim produced some of the most bizarre and inspired TV around.

tim-and-erics-billion-dollar-movie-poster-2012The crudely animated Tom Goes to the Mayor established their names and absurdist brand of humor on the Adult Swim lineup of the Cartoon Network, but it was the mostly live-action Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! that cemented their reputation as class-A nutjobs who have no boundaries in going for a laugh.

Now the duo has made their first feature film in conjunction with Adam McKay and Will Ferrell‘s Funny Or Die imprint. It’s called Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, and it’s nice to see Heidecker and Wareheim not holding back in an R-rated comedy either.

Tim and Eric’s humor almost always works, and mostly in small doses. Their TV episodes were 11 minutes each, usually jumping wildly from one set-up to the next, employing bad actors, awkward edits, and state-of-the-art computer effects and graphic design from 1981 to create humor that feels inept but is actually anything but.

tim-and-erics-billion-dollar-movie-spray-tansThe challenge with Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is stretching that brand of satire out to 90 minutes. There are enough laugh-out-loud moments and celebrity guest stars for multiple 11-minute episodes, but despite all the deconstructionist madness, the last hour of Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie can actually get pretty tiring.

Tim and Eric’s humor comes from their instinctual knowledge of how editing is used to manipulate the viewer. They poke vicious fun at all kinds of pretentiousness and showcase how ingrained in us viewers certain music and editing cues have become.

The first half hour of Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie does what they do best — moving quickly between infomercials and send-ups of industrial films with Tim and Eric playing exaggerated, clueless Hollywood versions of themselves with douchebag hairstyles, multiple piercings (Eric even has the hair in his extra-long goatee pierced), and spray tans. Plus Jeff Goldblum is Chef Goldblum, a man extolling the virtues of customized stirrup chairs that pour scalding butter on your hand for a premium movie-watching experience.

tim-erics-billion-dollar-movie-2012-goldblumAs an example of the clever (kind of) subtle brand of humor they do so well, the credit “Directed by Tim & Eric” stays on the screen long after the scene has moved on to make sure nobody forgets whose film it is. There’s also an intrusive narrator (Michael Gross) who talks down to the audience.

The plot here is that they have been given a billion-dollar budget for a film, and have precious few minutes of usable footage after spending it all on a Johnny Depp look-alike who they thought was Johnny Depp, a diamond-plated suit for their main character, and millions for their spiritual guru, Jim Joe Kelly (Zach Galifianakis).

tim-eric-billion-dollar-movie-athertonRobert Loggia and William Atherton (the EPA dick from Ghostbusters) play studio heads from Schlaaang, and as much fun as it is to see them in the movie, they don’t have much to you and they performances aren’t manipulated nearly enough by the strange jump cuts and editing loops Tim and Eric usually use.

Once erstwhile Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!  contributors Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Will Forte show up, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie settles in rather uncomfortably into a pretty tepid and completely different plot about forming a PR firm and turning a decrepit mall around. It’s when the absurdness stops momentarily and turns purely to silliness (and when the film does what any other normal film — not this one — should strive to do: build character) that the movie starts to feel long.

It’s hard to keep up that kind of pace, but I think in order for a Tim and Eric movie to truly be as dangerously funny as it needs to be (and I’m not talking about the movie’s multiple gross-out moments, two of which had me on the verge of retching and shouting out loud — in a good way), Heidecker and Wareheim need to use the Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker model and just keep the jokes coming every minute.

If that means a different set-up every five minutes, so be it. As it is, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie still feels like sketch comedy after all, so why not abandon any semblance of a plot altogether?

Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is on VOD now, and opens in theaters like the Screenland Crossroads today.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David May 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Great review. I enjoyed the movie but these are good criticisms.


2 Eric Melin May 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Thanks, David. I liked a lot of it, too, and I’m glad you took the time to read the review rather than just look at the rating.


3 David May 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

You’re not going to grow or become any smarter by not looking at both sides of an opinion.

I read a lot of the negative reviews and the majority of them seemed like they simply weren’t the audience the movie was intended for and wanted to piss and moan about it. You, however; seemed to be right with them but felt it wasn’t up to par with their other work.

It’s the most objective review on RT that I read and it’s because you didn’t take the stance of “you get it or you don’t”. That’s an easy cop out that doesn’t concern the actual movie but the reception of the movie.


4 Eric Melin May 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, David. I think Tim and Eric are frequently brilliant, and a lot of that is on display in this film. They deserve more credit for their ambitious skewering and ability to retain a unique voice, much like Parker and Stone do with South Park. They have a little more trouble with narrative and I look forward to them taking another stab at a feature. “You get it or you don’t” is a total cop-out. My job is to examine the movie at hand, not second -guess what the audience’s opinion will be. Cheers!


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