Freddy Gets the Finger

When I was nine years old, I slammed the keyboard cover of my grandfather's Steinway onto my exposed penis. As I beheld the flushed member pinned against the ivories like the snakeling in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, I immediately feared my urinating days were over. Precocious Catholic that I was, I wondered what sort of God could thus afflict what my parents in their infinite conservatism called "your bathroom thing." (As in, "What kind of idiot closes the piano on his bathroom thing?")

Now, 12 years and countless successful genital movements later, I've got an answer: Tom Green's sort of God. Green, the wild-eyed Canadian "comic" best known for his eponymous MTV wince-fest, has graduated to feature filmdom (as writer-director-star, no less) with the woefully inept Freddy Got Fingered, which is not so much a movie as a means for its lead freak to stage all manner of tasteless, bizarre, deadeningly dull raunch setpieces. Green clearly thinks himself a latter-day Andy Kaufman, but he's really another self-satisfied, miserably unfunny performer in the Pauly Shore/Andy Dick mold.

Here, he plays Gord Brody, aspiring cartoonist and denizen of his parents' basement, who treks west to peddle his illustrations in L.A. Things don't pan out for Brody--or the audience--when he's rejected by a production executive (Anthony Michael Hall). Gord limps back home, where he squabbles with dad Jim (Rip Torn) and mother Julie (Airplane! star Julie Hagerty, whose career--now spanning the best and worst comedies ever made--has gone officially bipolar). For 90 excruciating, excommunicate-me-now-I-no-longer-fear-Hell-for-I-have-seen-it minutes, Brody tortures his family and dallies with a masochistic paraplegic (Marisa Coughlan). He also severs a baby's umbilical cord with his teeth, drapes a freshly skinned moose pelt about his shoulders, and earnestly licks a friend's skinned kneecap.

None of Green's antics are outrageous, because none of them are recognizably human; none are funny, because none matter, much like the stuff of Green's now-canceled TV show. But the show, at least, had potential: When Green heckled a JV soccer team in real life, for example, we might laugh at the randomness of his stunt, or at the ingenuous reactions of his victims. So why would anyone deem Green's "humor" a good fit for film, a medium in which everything--action, dialogue, performance--is staged and spontaneity a non-factor? And since Green's victims--and not Green himself--are the funny ones, how could his persona buoy a movie? Answer: It can't and doesn't. If there's anyone to root for in Freddy Got Fingered, it's Torn, or perhaps the truck driver whose Mack mows Gord down on a woodside highway. (Hold your applause: He gets up.)

Freddy Got Fingered also happens to be incompetently structured, poorly edited and listlessly acted. But as you witness umbilical fluid coursing down Green's recessive, goateed chin, you find yourself oddly grateful for its amateurish editing. This movie is one of the worst intestinal curds ever retched up by Hollywood. It is the fifth horseman of the apocalypse. It made me want to find a Steinway and unzip.


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