Freddy Got Fingered Review
The estimable, and usually right, American critic Roger Ebert recently unveiled his list of the greatest and worst films of all time. At the top, unsurprisingly, was Citizen Kane, a solid, conservative and unsurprising choice, given Ebert’s near-legendary love of the film. However, for the accolade of the worst film of all time, Ebert named Freddy got Fingered, beating such deserving candidates as Manos: the Hands of Fate, Santa Claus vs The Martians or even something as abysmally weak as Batman & Robin. However, one glance at the sheer, suffocatingly appalling mess that passes for a film- and, after watching it, a telephone call to the Trades Descriptions Officer seemed like a good idea- might well be enough to bring anyone round to Ebert’s way of thinking. In fact, films like this should be reviewed under a new slogan: ‘DVDTimes. Watching films like this so you don’t have to.’
So you want to know what the plot is, do you? It’s hard to know where to begin. Gord- Gord!- as played by ‘director/writer/star’ Green, all of which descriptions seem strangely high-blown for the ineptitude visited upon us is a failed cartoonist, who, after a miserable trip to Hollywood working in a cheese factory, comes home to his miserable parents (Torn and Hagerty) and his equally miserable brother Freddy (Thomas), all of whom look as if their paycheques had been taken from them as punishment for daring to appear in this cinematic water torture. Had the film had no dialogue at all, instead being a grim existential examination of failure, it might at least have been a bearably miserable experience. Instead, the viewer has to suffer through scenes of such repellence that it’s hard to stop switching the DVD off. See Gord masturbate a horse! See Gord dress up in a dismembered deer! See Gord chew through a baby’s umbilical cord! Or, if you have anything better to do with your life, don’t!!!!
Peter Bradshaw, in The Guardian, wrote that experiencing this film was akin to the worst physical pain he had ever suffered. At the time, it was hard to imagine that any film could be that awful; after all, Tom Green’s brief appearances in Charlie’s Angels and Road Trip were both highly entertaining little cameos, and the thought of a film starring Green seemed to promise at least a few moments of amusement. The only possible amusement that this film could offer anyone of any vague intelligence is why they had wasted their time and money on it, and why on earth they had demeaned themselves by attempting to endure such a miserable assembly of inanity. Possibly the worst thing about the film is that it is cripplingly, sleep-inducingly dull; nothing of any interest happens throughout the blessedly short 87 minutes (which still feel as if they are far longer), with even the so-called ‘gross out’ moments arousing no more emotion than a kind of nauseous desire to leave the room. The closest that the film comes to is the torture cinema that Alex undergoes in A Clockwork Orange; if one’s eyes were clamped open, and one was subjected to this in a constant cycle, there would not be much one would not be willing to confess to. Personally, by the time Rip Torn was exposing his flabby buttocks to Gord and shouting ‘Fuck me!’, I was ready to hand myself into the police for virtually every unsolved murder of the last twenty-five years, if only because it would spell an end to the endurance test that Freddy was representing.
There have, unbelievably, been attempts by critics to claim this as some sort of surrealist work of genius, in much the same way that Un Chien Andalou or 8 ½ have; thus, according to this viewpoint, the film is a work of genre-stretching art; in one, arrogantly pretentious piece of criticism, the film was even described as worthy of a place in the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art. However, such a judgement is on a par with Christopher Tookey’s fawning adoration of Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence; there is not one moment in the film which has not been done better, and in an infinitely more refined manner, in another work. For a comparison, see any episode of Brass Eye, especially the notorious paedophilia special; although it’s disturbing viewing, to say the least, it’s also hilarious, because of the skill with which it is constructed. This is not disturbing, or thought-provoking, or a work of art; instead, it represents a nadir of modern-day commercial filmmaking that I feel deeply ashamed for having had to watch. And to think that, of all things, I actually volunteered to watch the film out of curiosity, on the grounds that it couldn’t be that bad…believe me, it is, if not worse.
If a film’s technical presentation was on a par with its quality, this would be presented on the worst kind of Z-grade VHS bootleg, with the various atrocities depicted thankfully shadowed. However, Fox (here blotting their copybook with their involvement in this film) do their usual excellent job with the picture; colours are clear, vivid and bright, there is no noticeable print damage- presumably, no outraged cinema connoisseurs got their hands on the original negative- and the overall impression is strong.
Although I was tempted to turn the sound (and picture) off after twenty minutes or so, I resisted the urge and noticed that the 5.1 soundtrack, although normally based heavily around the dialogue and music of the film, is a fairly good one, with clear, if somewhat subdued, bass, and some occasional use of surround effects.
The good news is that this loses one of the commentary tracks from the R1 version. The bad news is that it keeps everything else. The supplementary features include a witless, moronic commentary from Green (who seems aware that the film is abysmal, and seems not to care in the slightest), a ‘laugh track’, which is only of interest for its bizarre participants, who seem to find the film hysterically amusing- note to self, find out what drugs get you through a film like this- some deleted scenes that manage the tricky task of maintaining the film’s lifeless, witless boredom and somehow got cut out, a ‘three-minute PG version’ of the film that fails to even raise a groan, and the usual round of trailers, cast bios, a truly pointless pair of making-of featurettes and an Easter Egg of outtakes. There’s a song by the Pet Shop Boys entitled ‘What have I done to deserve this?’ After enduring the extra features, I felt that I could empathise.
The worst film ever made? Although it has some vague pretence to technical competence- although, to be fair, it’s occasionally hard to tell or care, given the plotless nature of the film- the sheer, suffocating awfulness of the acting, script, direction and general ambience of this so-called ‘entertainment’ mean that it has about as good a claim as anything else that escaped into the cinemas in the last few years. A huge flop at the cinema- thankfully- there is now some strange movement afoot to redefine this as a successful and wacky gross-out comedy. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who finds this funny is welcome to it. Fox present it on a disc that is technically strong, with some extras that will be of deeply limited appeal to anyone except devoted fans of the film. Avoid.