[box cover]

Freddy Got Fingered

Look. Tom Green might not be for everybody. The guerrilla comedian made his name on MTV humping dead animals, tormenting his parents with invasive practical jokes, and interviewing passersby with a dildo-shaped microphone. His avant garde tactics (such as an entire stand up monologue of strange noises) have earned him comparison to the legendary Andy Kaufman. The big difference, however, is that Green's style is not aloof — it is aggressive; where Kaufman's style was introverted, Green's is unsettlingly personal and in-your-face. The other big difference is that Kaufman, thanks to his early demise, is remembered with affection as a comic genius. Tom Green is loathed. His first film as leading man/writer/director is no exception. Freddy Got Fingered was the worst reviewed film of 2001 and perhaps of the preceding decade. It has been described with words like "cesspool," "abomination," "depressing," "repugnant," and (by Roger Ebert) "vomitorium." And that is all wrong. In a time when most comedies consist of a thin layer of predictable gross-out jokes draped over a dull formulaic plot skeleton, Freddy Got Fingered is almost a revelation: it is entirely unpredictable, and the comedy, whether you like it or not, is laid on thick, fast, and audaciously. Not since the previously lambasted absurdist tour de force Billy Madison (1995) has a comedian invested such immense effort into invention, into surprise, into entertainment. Sure, there is room for improvement. Technically, Freddy barely scratches by, showing Green's directorial novice. Some of the pacing is off, some of the scenes are flat, and Rip Torn, as Freddy's aggravated father, is sometimes too big. This is not Citizen Kane. The plotting is loose — Green plays a cartoonist in his late 20s living in his parents' basement — often no more than an excuse for Green to riff into improvisation and non sequitur shock jokes. What's depressing is that the critical press — who, bizarrely, adored the comparatively half-assed There's Something About Mary — has not lauded the generous Green for his bold advancement of that comic genre. While Mary was gross, it was largely uncreative, settling for age-old, tired gags like penis injury and ugly old woman jokes. There is nothing in Freddy Got Fingered that is familiar. Freddy makes Mary look like an episode of The Golden Girls. If this is not your preferred school of cinema, so be it, but anyone with a taste for adventure, a strong stomach, and an appreciation for crass surrealism, might be (un)pleasantly surprised to find that "the worst comedy of the year" is actually the best. Also with Eddie Kaye Thomas, Julie Hagerty and a cameo by Green's wife, Drew Barrymore. Fox has graciously indulged Green's film and its few fans with a substantial DVD release. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is solid, and the 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is of a good standard, with a 2.0 option as well. The film has three further audio tracks, the first of which is a commentary by Green that fans will find nearly as entertaining as the film. Green, naturally, intersperses mockery of DVD commentaries with enthusiastic ramblings on a variety of subjects, including a plot summary of Back to the Future, observations on the characteristics of horse penises, and his bewilderment that anyone financed this movie. The next audio track includes scene-specific commentary by cast members Torn, Harland Williams and Marisa Coughlan. The third supplemental audio track is a novel idea, and not a bad one: It allows the viewer to hear the film accompanied by the atmosphere at the film's rowdy world premiere screening. Also on this disc are eight deleted scenes (one of which is called, appropriately, "Sucking the Cow") including commentary by Green (which often devolves into a soundtrack of "irrelevant noises") and a three-minute "PG-rated" version of the film. In addition, there are EPK and MTV featurettes, several TV spots and trailers, and, hidden away to accompany one of the deleted scenes with the commentary turned on, the infamous TV clip of Green's literally nauseating visit to the Canadian Mike Bullard Show with a dead raccoon. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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