For those who don’t know, Tim (Heidecker) & Eric (Wareheim) are the minds behind Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job, and other various projects. Their humor is a particular, post-modern brand of technological absurdism compiled from strains of ADHD, irony-soaked surrealism and small doses of satire watered down with a few cans of caffeine-addled insomnia. It’s a type of humor too frenetic and jarring to be sustained for more than 11 or 12 minutes in a sitting (average running time of TGTM, TEASGJ, and other Adult Swim numbers).
After a five-season run of TEASGJ, and subsequent side projects with live tours, movie appearances, commercials, music videos, Funny or Die sketches, or Awesome Show spinoffs like Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, Tim & Eric have developed a strong brand, and more importantly, a strong following, whose cult-like fanaticism and adoration fuels the creative energy behind the ongoing Tim & Eric projects.
Because the niche occupied by Tim & Eric is so particular, it is common to find people disturbed and appalled by the very same gross-out-bodily-function-non-sequitur-rabid-hormonal humor so regular and expected by the Tim & Eric cult. The Tim & Eric franchise has been growing for over a decade, but due to its non-universal appeal, it has a tendency to be limited by the shortcomings of a fairly narrow comedic repertoire. Of course, this is what made shows like TGTM and TEASGJ so strong; they knew when to end the joke.
While Tim & Eric have completed a number of successful projects outside of the Adult Swim circuit, the discursive and erratic structure of Billion Dollar Movie frames it more like a 90-minute Awesome Show postscript than a stand-alone feature film. At its best, it would appeal to Awesome Show fans who were looking for an added punchline to the show outside of the Chrimbus Special.
Billion Dollar Movie is not the kind of film that would turn on new fans to the frenzied franchise of Tim & Eric. It simply caters to the already-initiated, and it succeeds in that way. Though, at its worst, it does in 90 minutes what an episode Awesome Show was able to do in 11.
Tim and Eric came from humble beginnings, and if you’ve watched the evolution of their career, a certain Hollywood ‘in humor’ has affected their more original content. There might be something funny about having YouTube clips of Ben Stiller or Elijah Wood taking anti-piracy pledges (as part of a sort of high-budget guerrilla marketing campaign), but the jokes are lost on the gentry. Various A-and-B-list cameos in Billion Dollar Movie are cut from the same caste-colored cloth.
Despite the large budget, Billion Dollar Movie plays more like a cheap effort.
[Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is currently available On Demand and will be also be available in theaters starting March 2, 2012.]
(I just had to try my hand at the gimmicky conclusion. Feels good and maybe a little inauthentic.)