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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Review
Freddy Got Fingered (2001)
2 Stars

Directed by Tom Green
Cast: Tom Green, Rip Torn, Harland Williams, Stephen Tobolowsky, Anthony Michael Hall, Marisa Coughlan, Julie Hagerty.
2001 – 87 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for crude sexual and bizarre humor, and for strong language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 20, 2001.

There will be people who hate "Freddy Got Fingered," the feature-film directing debut of Tom Green (also in his first major role). There will be people who loathe it so predominantly that they will be able to not find one nice word to say about it. There will be those that will be offended and/or disgusted by its goings-on, causing some to tear out of the theater auditorium by the 20-minute mark, screaming in horror. Let it be known that Tom Green would take that as a compliment, and let it also be known that any fan of his popular television program on television will absolutely eat this movie up. For me, Green is a genuine comic talent--smart, silly, original, and fearless--and while "Freddy Got Fingered" has the markings of an amateur filmmaker, it at least has the participation of a delightfully perverse and entertaining performer.

The picture is an outrageous excursion into radical bad taste and profane comedy, but it also has the balls to go for broke and not stop to look back once. Tom Green, who also penned the screenplay with Derek Harvie, has created an admittedly thin story that acts as a relative excuse to line up a series of unbelievably tasteless jokes and shoot them down one at a time. Crude? Oh god, yes! But also undeniably funny much of the time.

Gord Brodie (Tom Green) is the 28-year-old black sheep of his family, and the older son of two. While his little bro, 25-year-old Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas), holds a respectable job at the local bank, all Gord dreams of is to become a cartoonist. When an anticlimactic trip to Hollywood to speak to the head of a famed animation production company does not go as planned, Gord is back to living in the basement of his parents' home before he knows it. His father (Rip Torn) has no patience for Gord, and has long since grown tired of his child-like demeanor and immature shenanigans, while his mother (Julie Hagerty) is understanding and unconditionally loving. In Gord's journey to find out what he is meant to do in his life, he meets the cute-as-a-button Betty (Marisa Coughlan), an aspiring rocket scientist with paralyzed legs, who turns out to have quite a healthy sexual appetite.

Determining whether "Freddy Got Fingered" is a movie worth seeing is really quite easy. If you have seen, and are a fan, of "The Tom Green Show" on MTV, or if you enjoy its similar show, "Jackass," then the chances of having a good time are almost guaranteed. It is clear watching the movie that Green made it to fit to his own acquired taste, creating incredibly stomach-churning set-pieces and setting them up for maximum comic effect. Things occur that have no real purpose in the confines of the plot, except that Green thought it would be funny (his jerking off an actual horse comes immediately to mind). In many ways, it is invigorating to see an artist with such abandon, who uses his mind and creativity to turn out situations and ideas that others might never have thought of, or had the courage and know-how to pull off successfully.

Not since the early days of Monty Python has comedy been so unabashedly wacky and gory at the same time. Not only do we get to see Green cut open roadkill, tear out its guts, and parade around in the skin, but we also witness him biting a newborn baby's umbilical cord off and flinging it around in the air like a lasso, as well as an unfortunate child who keeps getting severely hurt (culminating in his contact with an airplane propellor). Concerning all three instances, these scenes are gross, to be sure, and maybe go a little too far, but they also act as great id destroyers. To be able to laugh so much, and with such hearty abandon, at things that might have fell disastrously flat with their sheer tactlessness, is a wonderful feeling.

At the forefront of it all is Tom Green (2000's "Road Trip"), who proves to be the most talented comedian to come along in years (he sure beats the ultra-popular Adam Sandler and David Spade, in both the talent and originality departments). When it comes to conventional filmmaking, Green might still have some space to learn and improve the craft, but the fact that he managed to direct, write, and star in "Freddy Got Fingered," without much experience in the former, is quite impressive in and of itself. Green can take even the lamest of jokes and turn them into dynamite with just a simple, subtle line delivery or facial expression.

Rip Torn (2000's "Wonder Boys") and Julie Hagerty (2000's "Held Up") do well as Gord's parents. Both seem to be enjoying themselves, with Hagerty turning in a warm performance, and Torn a truly unlikable, if well-done, one. Better, though, is Marisa Coughlan (2000's "Gossip"), as the sexually ferocious Betty, Gord's quintessential love interest. Coughlan is adorable and effective, and it was nice to see Green accept her handicap, rather than treat it as a joke. Finally, Drew Barrymore (2000's "Charlie's Angels"), Green's wife in real life, turns up in a cute 5-minute cameo.

Highfalutin film critics and uptight viewers can complain all they want about how 'sickening' and 'corruptive' "Freddy Got Fingered" is, but when it all comes down to it, the movie is rarely ever cruel. That's not to say it never is--and this includes those intermittent episodes when it does step over the line of what is socially acceptable--but nine times out of ten, things turn out for the best, and are absent of a nasty undercurrent. The movie follows the most loose approach to telling a story so that it does all come together and make sense (as well as make a point by the conclusion), while also playing like outtakes of "The Tom Green Show" that were too racy to be shown on T.V. This was Green's purpose, no doubt, and as such, it works.

©2001 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman