Giving Us the Finger
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, along comes Tom Green, who drags us down with him to new lows in the oh-so-popular genre of “gross-out” comedies. Actually, “gross-out” doesn’t do Green’s film justice, as it is nothing short of revolting. Yet, I am wary of calling the film “revolting,” considering how the term, as it has been associated with certain artistic movements, has produced some specific politically charged and socially critical performances (think: punk bands puking on stage and spitting on audiences, for instance). Green is no Marcel Duchamp hanging a urinal on gallery wall and calling it Art. Freddy Got Fingered repeatedly and aggressively gives its audience the finger. It slaps us in the face and asks us to hate it at every turn. Mission accomplished.
As if fearing for his title of undisputed master of the skit no one else would ever do, Green and his co-writer (and The Tom Green Show co-conspirator) Derek Harvie have concocted a puerile series of sight-gags connected by the thinnest and lamest of story lines. In this sense and others, the film is close to pornographic. While erect male penises are a clear visual marker of other films’ crossover into the realm of the “adult,” not even erect elephant dicks spewing animal sperm all over people hauls this movie into that realm. That’s the level of humor here, and it is defiantly childish. We are treated to a constant parade of dick jokes. And it’s a strange day indeed when I am watching one dick joke movie and longing for the intellectual sophistication of another dick joke movie like Monkeybone.
Freddy Got Fingered
Tom Green, Rip Torn, Julie Hagerty, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Marisa Coughlan, Anthony Michael Hall
(20th Century Fox)
Freddy follows Gord Brody (Green), a 28-year-old aspiring animator who still lives at home with his door-mat mother Julie (Julie Hagerty) and sociopath father Jim (Rip Torn). Dad is always at his throat, belittling him and yelling at him to get a job, while comparing him to his younger brother, a “responsible” banker. For anyone familiar with The Tom Green Show, this fascination with parents is hardly new. But what made The Tom Green Show‘s use and abuse of Green’s own parents marginally successful was his rather normal parents clearly befuddled responses to their son’s shenanigans; indeed, we could sympathize with them as they looked on in disbelief that they could have produced such a “unique” individual. In Freddy the parents are hardly sympathetic, and Jim in particular must be especially nasty in order for son Gordy to be the “hero” of the film.
So who is the titular Freddy? Well, Gord’s younger brother, whom he despises for his “maturity” and for being a yes-man to their father. Gord gets revenge on both of them by accusing Jim of “touching” Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas). Yep, the title refers to Gord’s brother getting that kind of fingered by Jim. Gord’s outburst takes place in front of the family therapist, which means that 25-year-old Freddy is removed from his own apartment by child protection services and placed in the “Institute for Sexually Molested Children.” In the film’s most subtle bit of humor, these poor kids sit around nearly catatonic, watching horror movies (which, of course, all feature serial child killers and molesters) and reruns of classic family TV like Leave it to Beaver (as we all know “perfect” families often harbor dark sexual secrets). All right, not too subtle, but in comparison to the rest of the film…
Apparently, there were going to be more scenes of Freddy in the Institute, and mercifully, they were cut from the final version. Call me a prude, but I find no humor in sexually molested children. Furthermore, this subplot is hardly developed (listen to me, complaining about an underdeveloped molestation theme): it never has any repercussions in the narrative and simply disappears. It is undoubtedly included to, you guessed it, make the movie even grosser.
One final offense (among many more I could catalogue): Gordy’s girlfriend Betty (Marisa Coughlin) is a paraplegic doctor who dreams of engineering her own rocket-powered wheelchair, and whose sexual fetishes run to the extreme. She gets off by having her paralyzed legs beaten with bamboo canes and horse whips, and really loves to give guys blow jobs. Here’s a rather vicious sexist fantasy, a girl you can smack around who will always repay you by begging to suck your dick.
I could go on, but it hardly seems necessary or worthwhile. Freddy Got Fingered lowers the bar, and not just a little bit, for what has been popularly passing as “comedy” in recent days. But perhaps we’ve reached its nadir, as I really can’t imagine how “gross-out” humor can survive Green’s slash-and-burn directorial debut.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.
// Short Ends and Leader
"The two Steves at Double Take are often mistaken for Paul Newman and Robert Redford; so it's appropriate that they shoot it out over Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.READ the article