If you’re not a fan of the transgressive comedy stylings of Adult Swim sketch artists Tim and Eric, it’d probably be best to stay as far away as possible from Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. If you are a fan, well, you might like this movie a little.
Likable yet highly delusional doofuses Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (the stars of Cartoon Network’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!) are given a billion dollars by industrialist Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia, looking painfully like he’s going to keel over at any second despite still having full control of that snarling voice) to make a movie. They end up delivering a short film starring a Johnny Depp impersonator (Ronnie Rodriguez) whom they mistook for the real deal and claim to have blown most of the rest of the money on their own personal Hollywood makeovers (complete with tans and perfect teeth) and on the $500,000 per week stipend given to their spiritual advisor, Jim Joe Kelly (Zach Galifianakis). An enraged Schlaaang (okay, that sounds pretty funny) demands his money back, but where in the hell are these two jackasses going to get a billion bucks?
Cut to a chance TV commercial they happen to see in a public bathroom (don’t ask) featuring Damien Weebs (Will Ferrell), the owner of the flailing S’wallow Valley shopping center who claims anyone who comes to “run my mall” will make a billion dollars. Tim and Eric shed their Hollywood makeovers (or wash them off, rather), reinvent themselves as “Dobis PR” (a shortening of “Doing Business,” a name inspired by the night sky itself) and set out to bring S’wallow Valley — a condemned, run-down no man’s land filled with vagrants, squatters and a rogue wolf that stalks the food court — back to its former glory, all the while hiding out from the wrath of Schlaaang and his right hand man, Earle Swinter (William Atherton), men who are not beyond torturing Tim and Eric’s elderly mothers for information on their sons’ whereabouts.
This “plot” is simply the vaguest outline with which a series of increasingly incongruous situational sketches and sight gags can be built around. Admittedly, some of them are quite funny, such as when Will Ferrell insists the boys watch Top Gun on VHS two times in a row and then bursts into tears and John C. Reilly‘s (who plays the beyond-sickly Taquito) tussle with the wolf. Tim and Eric also deserve credit for going to rather subversive extremes; Eric’s graphic penis piercing is unexpected (and pretty painful to watch), and his run-in with spiritual healer Dr. Doone Struts (Ray Wise) and his practice of a method known as “Shrim” is so disgusting that it becomes almost hypnotic. Jeff Goldblum opens the film on an amusing note as he introduces the “Schlaaang Chair,” an immersive (and then some) enhancement of the movie-watching experience, and Michael Gross manages to snag the last laugh as the film’s narrator.
Unfortunately, the scattered good stuff is nowhere near enough material to fill an entire movie. With a plot this thin and, ultimately, more gags that fizzle than spark, the film’s 93-minute running time seems twice as long. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie falls into the same trap as its spiritual successors, UHF, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy and Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (and its Adult Swim brother that also made the leap to the big screen, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters), in that short-form sketch comedy is a highly dubious format to adapt as a feature-length film. With no sense of structure or narrative momentum, the constant barrage of jokey-jokes soon becomes tedious, even though there’s always enough good bits to keep you watching (if only because you’re wondering what famous person is going to show up — and, in some cases, blow up — next).
There’s enjoyment to be had with Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. It just would’ve been more enjoyable if it had been Tim and Eric’s Thousand Dollar Movie and ran only about 25 minutes.