movie film review | chris tookey

Freddy Got Fingered

2001 - Twentieth Century Fox. Photo by Chris Helce - all rights reserved
  Freddy Got Fingered Review
Tookey's Rating
1 /10
Average Rating
1.77 /10
Tom Green , Rip Torn , Julie Hagerty
Full Cast >

Directed by: Tom Green
Written by: Tom Green and Derek Harvie

Released: 2001
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 88

The rise to celebrity of a talentless cartoonist (Tom Green, pictured).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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After the bombing of the World Trade Centre on September 11th, 2001, many Americans are going round plaintively asking "Why do people hate our country so much?" Maybe they should put themselves through the agony of attending Freddy Got Fingered. At 88 minutes, it's more than just the most repulsively decadent Hollywood film of all time. It's the longest cultural suicide note in history.

This is a comedy that starts as it means to go on, with its hero Gord (Tom Green) laughing at his own jokes. He's an aspiring animator with no comedic talent. At the age of 28, he leaves home to find fame and fortune in Hollywood, much to the relief of his parents (Rip Torn and Julie Hagerty) and conformist younger brother Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas), who has a steady job in a bank.

On the way to Hollywood, Gord shows what a crazy, anarchic guy he is when he stops his car by the roadside near a stud farm, and (for no discernible reason) masturbates a stallion - in a sequence that is clearly not simulated - while shouting "I'm a farmer! Look, I'm a farmer! I'm a farmer! Look, I'm farming!"

Mr Green evidently liked bestiality so much that he tries a more extreme variation of it later, when he masturbates an elephant to torrential orgasm. And there's a sequence where horses are shown copulating in a field and Green gleefully smashes food all over his face. What does this mean? Who knows, but it calls for therapy rather than criticism.

In Hollywood, Gord bluffs his way in to see the head of an animation studio (Anthony Michael Hall), who tells him bluntly that his ideas are no good. Whereupon Gord goes back to his dad's basement, much to dad's disgust, invents a new comic strip (which struck me as even lousier than the old one), and has it commissioned for a million dollars. Of all the scenes, this one is the least likely.

Gord takes his father on a trip to Pakistan where the two of them become reconciled and are taken hostage, for reasons which are obscure. They are released for no reason at all - speaking personally, I'd have handed them over to Osama bin Laden. They return as American heroes, to be greeted at the airport by patriotic flag-wavers and the only laugh of the film, when someone raises a placard saying "When the fuck is this movie going to end?"

It's not impossible to see what Tom Green was trying to do in this movie. He's spotted that two of the top comedians in Hollywood - Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler - have got where they are by impersonating imbeciles. What he hasn't noticed is that they play well-meaning imbeciles.

Carrey's Ace Ventura may be a gurning, hyperactive nitwit, but he is fond of animals. Even in Sandler's worst movies, such as Little Nicky, he's trying to do good.

As Gord, Green is not doing good. He's not a Walter Mitty-style dreamer or a childlike adult worthy of our pity, he's a nasty, egotistical pervert (he even responds to a friend's leg injury by licking the broken bone that pokes through the skin).

In one of the scenes that's hardest to watch, Gord decides on a whim to try his hand at being a doctor. So he terrorises a woman at her most vulnerable moment (giving birth), pulls the baby out and swings it round his head by its umbilical cord, spattering blood on the women around him. I can't think of a more revoltingly misogynistic scene in movies, and I noticed a couple of female critics making for the exit just after this.

Instead of love interest, Green gives Gord a paraplegic girlfriend (Marisa Coughlan) with a nymphomaniacal appetite for oral sex and a masochistic desire to be whipped across her legs with a bamboo pole. We've seen explicit sexual humour before, in movies such as American Pie and There's Something About Mary, but there it grew out of character and was actually funny. The sex here is gratuitous, ugly, demeaning to actors and audience alike - and not even slightly amusing.

Equally horrible is the running "gag" where Gord's neighbour, a boy of about 10, is repeatedly smashed in the face by a champagne bottle, a baseball, a skateboard, a car door and, ultimately, a plane propeller which cuts the boy to pieces and splashes blood over his appalled father.

With this attitude to violence, it is hardly surprising that Green thinks child abuse is a laugh. He shows us a home for abused children where the authorities show them The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the humorous point of which was lost on me, and will be even more lost on those with first-hand experience of child abuse.

Green thinks that falsely accusing your father of child abuse is an even bigger hoot. Gord does exactly that - hence the title of the movie - and his innocent father responds not in any believable way, but by getting drunk, baring his bottom at Gord and demanding that he sodomise him.

With depressing predictability, Tom Green has tried to justify his movie as an exploration of father-son conflict; but there is nothing remotely real about the parental relationship, beyond an understandable resentment on the father's part towards a son who's an unemployable idiot.

The film is quite obviously a coded autobiography. For, like Gord, Green has become a success with no discernible talent, as writer, director or actor. The very existence of the movie Freddy Got Fingered shows how easy it can be for a self-absorbed, single-minded egomaniac to be given money and licence to indulge all of his worst instincts in public.

For Tom Green has acquired wealth and a celebrity thanks to his wearisomely exhibitionistic comedy show on MTV, and a couple of dismally unfunny appearances in the gross-out comedy Road Trip and his wife Drew Barrymore's flight of frivolity, Charlie's Angels. It's a tribute to the loyalty, if not the intelligence or taste, of his following that Freddy Got Fingered managed to make over 14 million dollars on its American release, despite overwhelmingly hostile reviews.

That's right. Even the famously supine reviewers who work for the American media couldn't find it in their hearts to commend this latest, horribly cynical product of - let me name names - Arnold Milchan's Regency Enterprises, Rupert Murdoch's 20th Century Fox, Kerry Packer's Australian Nine Network, Samsung Electronics and Leo Kirch's Kirch Media Group.

There has always been an honourable place for comic writers who use shock tactics. From Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal - satirically suggesting eating babies as a solution to Ireland's problems of famine - through to Lenny Bruce, humorists have often tried to jolt people out of their complacency, and see the world in a new, more anarchic spirit.

But there was always some kind of political or social agenda behind their use of shock tactics. Green has absolutely nothing to say, and nothing in his mind beyond self-promotion. It is this polluting combination of individualism, greed and mindlessness that makes his movie a lasting emblem of how the American Dream can, without any sense of values or personal - let alone global - responsibility, become everyone else's nightmare. And so debased has a section of American society become that it actually found this new low in comedy entertaining.

"The goal is to make people enjoy themselves when they go to the movie theatre. That is the goal. We want smiling faces in the seats of the movie theatres. We want to make people smile and happy. We don't want to make people angry. Actually we do. We don't want to make anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 angry. We'd like to make 30% of people between the ages of 35 and 50 angry, and we'd like to make 75% of the people between the ages of 55 and 70 angry. And we'd like to make 100% of the people between the ages of 70 and 100 angry. Anyone over 100 who goes to the movie probably won't leave the theatre. I'm not saying the goal is to kill people over 100. We're not trying to murder 100 year olds with the movie. If 100-year-old people die while watching Freddy Got Fingered I don't think that would be an accomplishment. I'd say that'd be a negative thing. I would just warn anybody in that age bracket, the 100 to 110 years old age bracket, to maybe consider going to another movie or maybe not going to a movie. I don't want to offend people between the ages of 100 and 110. It's just my opinion that people between 100 and 110 should not go to movies period. I don't want to offend those people. I just don't think they should go to movies. They could go down the hall, but not to movies. They could go to bed."

(Tom Green)

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