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Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray Review

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012) movie poster Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

Theatrical Release: March 2, 2012 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: R / Songs List

Writers/Director: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim

Cast: Tim Heidecker (Himself), Eric Wareheim (Himself), John C. Reilly (Taquito), Twink Caplan (Katie Hill), Will Ferrell (Damien Weebs), Robert Loggia (Tommy Schlaaang Jr.), William Atherton (Earle Swinter), Zach Galifianakis (Jim Joe Kelly), Will Forte (Allen Bishopman), Ray Wise (Dr. Doone Struts), Matt O'Toole (Reggie Pish), Noah Spencer (Jeffrey Pish Heidecker), Mary Bly (Mrs. Heidecker), Lillian Adams (Mrs. Wareheim), Jeff Goldblum (Chef Goldblum), Rae Sunshine Lee (Shrim God 1), Palmer Scott (Shrim God 2), Robert Axelrod (Himself), Tennessee Winston Luke (Himself), James Quall (Himself), John Downey III (Cornell Boons), Ronnie Rodriguez (Johnny Depp/Diamond Jim), Erica Durance (French Waitress), Michael Gross (Narrator), Jon Baggio (Jason), Harry Elmayan (Delivery Man), Howie Slater (Steven Spielberg), David Liebe Hart (Himself), Doug Foster (Sword Shopper), Bob Odenkirk (Schlaaang Announcer), Frank Slaten (Super Seat Customer), Bob Ross (Himself), Jay Mawhinney (Bartender), Mobin Khan (El Hat Proprietor)

Buy Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

I'm no Adult Swim connoisseur, but one late night in early 2008, "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" came upon my television. Claiming one of the youth-friendly, animation-driven block's standard 15-minute time slots, this live-action sketch comedy series immediately caught my attention with its painting cats and high-profile guest stars.
I found "Awesome Show" strange and very funny. Like most Adult Swim fare, this surreal program, alternately modeled after infomercials, daytime talk shows, and public-access cable, was far from everyone's cup of tea. For every viewer who praised the series for its inventive wit and sly commentary on our modern consumerist culture, there were at least two left scratching their heads and assuming you had to be on drugs to "get" the humor.

The thing about divisive niche alternative entertainment is that the few who number among the fans carry within them a passion far stronger than say a devout "Two and a Half Men" viewer might hold. Creations like "Awesome Show" do not get sold into syndication to share the air with car insurance and adult education ads. They get bought on DVD and frequently revisited, recommended, and loaned out. They inspire GIFs and merchandise and annual fan conventions. If they can reach the right people, they can also advance careers.

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, the stars and creators of "Awesome Show" and Adult Swim's "Tom Goes to the Mayor" before that, clearly got some of the right people's attentions. Veteran comedian Bob Odenkirk (of "Mr. Show with Bob and David" fame) was hooked by an unsolicited package the duo sent him and went on to executive produce and occasionally appear on both "Tom" and "Awesome." Other celebrities -- including Jeff Goldblum, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis (before and after his Hangover breakout), Rainn Wilson, Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Ben Stiller, many 21st century "Saturday Night Live" cast members, and virtually anyone who played a sitcom dad in the 1980s or '90s -- would come to collaborate with Tim and Eric, happy to partake in what would often end up being around a minute of footage, appearing either alongside or in between lifelong amateurs plucked from open casting calls and real local LA cable shows.

After five 10-episode seasons of increasingly star-studded Sunday night broadcasts, Tim and Eric turned their attentions to the logical next venue: a feature film. Teaming up with Funny or Die creators Ferrell and Adam McKay (to whose HBO series they had contributed), Heidecker and Wareheim wrote, directed, and produced Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. Still far from mainstream, the duo's biggest creative venture to date would be distributed under Magnolia Pictures' Magnet banner in the company's usual limited fashion, with iTunes and on-demand downloads preceding a narrow theatrical release.

Eric Wareheim and Tim Heidecker get a message in the night sky for their new calling of Dobis PR. Thus begins Tim and Eric's transformation into pleated khaki-wearing businessmen.

Billion Dollar Movie takes Tim and Eric's basic cable sketch sensibilities and blows them up. Instead of coming up with 11 minutes of diverse short and random bits, they've got to fill an hour and a half with a single narrative. Instead of relying on a small green screen stage, they've got real locations to shoot on. Instead of having to meet the Adult Swim standards and practices, they've got the freedom to get crazy with a hard-R rating.

To Tim and Eric, these facts surely promised a liberating and stimulating creative opportunity. Personally, I've found the partnership at its best when they have some limitations and focus. The final season of "Awesome Show" saw a dip in quality, as they traveled to some dark, edgy places and stretched their definition of "funny." What has followed in the two years since has been more disappointing: their contributions to HBO's "Funny or Die Presents" and their awful "for-retailers" Chrimbus Special were a lot more off the wall than genuinely entertaining. It seemed inevitable that, despite its potential to expand their following, Billion Dollar Movie would move Heidecker and Wareheim further in this direction of grotesque, disturbing, nearly unwatchable meta comedy. For much of the general public, the two may have already been firmly planted in that unpleasant territory with their comparably gentle TV comedy of random vomiting and various diarrhea product ads.

Naturally, Billion Dollar Movie is interested in going further: penile piercing, a recently masturbating hand covered in fresh ejaculate, and, in the course of three of the most uncomfortable minutes in the history of film, the sight of four children defecating on their fellow human being cross-cut with an extended lovemaking scene determined to gross out like no other. This is not comedy for the faint-hearted, nor even for the only moderately desensitized. Furthermore, this isn't really comedy for anyone who isn't already an avowed Tim and Eric fan. Even they may very well prefer the duo's no-budget whimsy than their attempt to make their mark on the film world.

Robert Loggia channels his dark side as enraged CEO Tommy Schlaaang Jr. John C. Reilly is one of the film's highlights as the sickly Taquito, who still wears the filthy old clothes in which he became a lost child.

The titular enterprise is in fact a movie within the movie. The characters of Heidecker and Wareheim have been given the unprecedented 10-figure sum to write, direct, and produce their first feature film. Financing them is the wealthy Schlaaang Inc., the transparent corporate stand-in for Cinco. (Clearly, the characters and concepts of "Awesome Show" are off-limits, without Adult Swim's Williams Street participating in this production.) Tim and Eric use their extravagant budget to put together Diamond Jim, a lavish film that follows Johnny Depp (Ronnie Rodriguez) in a suit made of diamonds down a Parisian street to find true love with a cafe waitress. It runs about two minutes. There is no way to recoup the lost billion, much of which went to Tim and Eric's personal makeovers of fake tans, studded goatees, and sparkling white dentures.

CEO Tommy Schlaaang (Robert Loggia) is not happy. Neither are Tim and Eric. They look to pick up their spirits in some drug-fueled partying at a nightclub.
In the bathroom, they see a commercial promising an easy billion to whoever takes over the S'wallow Valley Mall. The dilapidated mall's Top Gun-loving owner (Will Ferrell) ensures them that this is a can't-miss venture. A bit skeptical, Tim and Eric nonetheless bite, having deglamorized themselves into a couple of businessmen for a company they're calling Dobis PR (short for "Doing Business", you see).

Tim and Eric inherit a world of problems as the rundown property's new owners. The mall is mostly empty, but it does house a few esoteric shops. The shopping center is also home to Taquito (a standout John C. Reilly, basically a further exaggeration of his increasingly incapable Dr. Steve Brule), a sickly man who got lost in the mall as a boy decades earlier and hasn't changed his clothes or truly grown up. In addition, a fierce wolf is said to be living in the pizza court.

Tim and Eric vow to clean up S'wallow Valley for a grand reopening and they take steps to do just that, meeting with business owners, placing Taquito in charge of the mall fountain restoration, and laying forth their vague ideals in song. Eric finds love in the form of celebrity balloon kiosk proprietor Katie (Clueless' Twink Caplan). Tim, meanwhile, finds family, when he spontaneously adopts Jeffrey (Noah Spencer), the son of a struggling used toilet paper shop owner (Matt O'Toole).

Schlaaang, his second in command (another forgotten familiar face, Ghostbusters and Die Hard's William Atherton), and their associates continue to pursue Tim and Eric, hitting their elderly mothers with some hard questioning and torture. This leads to something of an action-packed climax. Along the way, a couple of "Understanding Your Movie" sketches help to make sense of the film's business themes.

Tim and Eric's extended mall family of Katie (Twink Caplan) and Jeffrey (Noah Spencer) brace themselves for a climactic attack. Short interstitials like this one ending on Tennessee Winston Luke and an apple help you to understand the film's business themes.

Billion has that ramshackle quality of a feature film being made from an unconventional place, like The Onion Movie. Tim and Eric do a surprisingly adequate job of adapting to the distant format, crafting a single coherent whole which honors many of the distinct fascinations (fatherhood, businessmen, outdated technology, awkward fisticuffs, diarrhea) of "Awesome Show." Nonetheless, the production is very hit and miss, and the misses seem to outnumber the hits by a pretty clear margin. The screenplay has their signature surreal quality and the film is full of nods, winks, fourth wall breaks, and random everyday oddities. As prudish as it makes me sound, I think Billion Dollar Movie would be quite a bit more enjoyable in a basic cable airing. True, the frequent commercial breaks would suck (that's what DVRs are for!), but content standards would eradicate a lot of the weaker bits that mistakenly equate discomfort with humor (chiefly those involving "shrim").

Unsurprisingly, Tim and Eric's passionate young fanbase did not turn out in droves for the theatrical release, with the film grossing a marginal $200 thousand. At least the real budget was reported as under $3 million, far less than the title suggested.

Just two months after the theatrical release and three and a half since its on demand premiere, Magnolia brought the film to DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack this week. We look at the middle of those three options here.

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Blue Keepcase in Sparkly Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($26.98 SRP), Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy ($34.98 SRP),
and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie looks amazing on Blu-ray. "Awesome Show" only made the jump to widescreen and hi-def in its final season, but the guys come far from their low-grade TV aesthetic here, with a highly cinematic and technically flawless (except where intended) presentation. The 1.78:1 transfer boasts rich colors, a clean element, and none of the glitches of "Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule."

The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is also rather robust, beginning with the dynamic Schlaaang Sound logo at the start. Effects and music add depth to the proceedings, while dialogue remains perfectly crisp throughout. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are offered on the film.

Just in case you didn't find the shrim/sex scene disturbing enough, there is an alternate version of it with David Liebe Hart singing and sporadically superimposed over it. There's a lot more of Will Ferrell's mall president Damien Weebs in this extended scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Billion Dollar Movie comes to home video fairly loaded with bonus features, all of which are presented in hi-def on Blu-ray unless otherwise noted.

First up is an audio commentary by Tim and Eric, which finds them more earnest than they usually are. They talk about all the actors as they are seen or heard, wanting a real celebrity for the movie within the movie, their comedy targets and tastes (when a studio note likened a scene to Austin Powers, they took it as a huge insult), and assorted challenges and goofs.
A bit of sarcasm inevitably slips through, but for the most part, they stay sincere. It's not too funny, but anyone versed in their work should still enjoy it.

Eight deleted scenes (8:53) offer two Will Forte appearances (one, a very Awesome Show-y commercial for his character's sword shop), a nighttime prayer vision from guru Jim Joe Kelly (Zach Galifianakis), a couple of weird additional "Understanding Your Movie" shorts with Robert Axelrod and Tennessee Winston Luke, and an alternate version of the sex scene set to an original song by resident puppeteer/alien expert David Liebe Hart, who is laid over the action.

Three extended scenes (18:26) give us an extremely longer version of Will Ferrell's first appearance (with more Top Gun commentary) plus two other Tim and Eric brainstorming scenes.

The incomparable James Quall offers impressions and insights in his sequined blazer interview for "Good Evening, S'wallow Valley: Hollywood Edition." Leave it to Tim and Eric to be sarcastic and ironically giggly in their promotional interview.

"Good Evening S'wallow Valley: Hollywood Edition" (8:25) feels like an "Awesome Show" episode dedicated to the making of Billion Dollar Movie. Heidecker, Wareheim, and some of their less recognizable co-stars discuss the film with a mix of BS, heavy sarcasm, bizarre specificity, and sincerity. We get some genuine looks at filming, a number of R-rated movie clips, and some James Quall impressions.

"Interview with Tim & Eric" (22:26) gives us some of the guys' patented bone dry sarcasm. They discuss the movie with tongues firmly in cheek, touching on things like their Oscar hopes, the "make-up" used to transform Heidecker into Katie (Twink Caplan), and eating hot dogs for breakfast. It's gross but amusing.

"HDNet: A Look at Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie" (4:06), a standard Magnolia Pictures inclusion, condenses the previous interview for interstitial airing. One wonders if Heidecker and Wareheim's off-the-wall sarcasm isn't at odds with the piece's genuine intention to promote the film.

The Shrim Dance Screensaver lets you watch Palmer Scott and Rae Sunshine Lee dance to your heart's content. As his podcast listeners know, Tim Heidecker is very serious about film, a fact made clear as he discusses "Gone by the Wind" in the NACA Promo.

A "Shrim Dance Screensaver" offers a 4-hour, 40-minute loop of a fuzzy 28-second clip from the film of Shrim gods Rae Sunshine Lee and Palmer Scott dancing, chanting, and being superimposed on one another. You are not advised to turn this into an endurance challenge.

Five "Promo Video$" offer a variety of diversion. "NACA Promo" (4:34) has the pair discussing their participation in a phony organization's challenge to make the best movie ever. The disc's only standard def item, Park City Television's (PCTV) YouTube-quality "In the Can" (11:08), has the guys getting interviewed at the Sundance Film Festival, where they bemoan the fact that their movie has been Rango'd, with outtakes from Rango interrupting their film's screenings (a bizarre joke that the interviewer tries his best to run with). Finally, three short online videos (1:33) pitch Billion Dollar Movie, an "Awesome Show" marathon on Adult Swim, and the recent second season of "Check It Out with Dr. Steve Brule."

A photo gallery image finds Tim and Eric having fun at work. The red-eyed Pizza Court wolf pops up on the artistic main menu montage against a background of pizza, toilet paper, wolf, and "Spanish fly."

A Posters gallery holds three designs and a title logo. A Photo Gallery serves up 24 behind-the-scenes stills in a mix of color and black & white.

Billion Dollar Movie's original greenband (2:22) and redband (2:31) theatrical trailers are included here. Furthermore, "Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment" plays the same ten minutes of ads with which the disc automatically loads.
Full trailers for Goon, God Bless America, The Hunter, and Playback are followed by an ad for HDNet.

Though there is a BD-Live listing, all selecting it does is prompt you to check back later for updates. Seems like a forward-thinking way to leave the window open for future streamable and downloadable content.

Some things you may be disappointed not to find here include Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie pledge YouTube videos, in which celebrities signed a written document to see Billion Dollar Movie and not The Lorax. They may have been too recent to include, as likely were the prank calls recently produced to promote this DVD and Blu-ray release.

In typical Tim and Eric fashion, the Blu-ray's menu shuffles through a weird roster of still heads. The pop up menu only works over the film. Bookmarks are supported, resuming is not. Thanks, Cinco.

The Blu-ray case is topped by a cardboard slipcover, which gives the title and tagline a sparkly look Diamond Jim would appreciate.

Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim promote the S'wallow Valley Mall's grand reopening in precisely the colorful manner you'd find on "Awesome Show, Great Job!"

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I can only imagine what my impression of Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie would have been without being intimately familiar with their unique comedy universe. The movie definitely would have shown up on my radar as a fan of the big name cast members and I think I would have been horrified. Instead, coming to this with all the prerequisite viewing achieved, I'm not shocked, just a bit disappointed. After all, how could the funniest minds on television, essentially given carte blanche, create a movie I can't even readily recommend to their fans?

I hoped that this could have reached the same heights as "Awesome Show", but that it rarely even comes close is proof that Tim and Eric's comedy may not lend itself well to a feature film or a wider audience. It's tough to think of a better fit for them than a short Adult Swim timeslot where nearly anything goes and they can be as weird as they want but not as crude.

Magnolia has put together a nice Blu-ray for this sporadically diverting film, with the more heavily discounted combo pack being the much better value. Even so, I don't expect to revisit this disc with anywhere near the regularity of the "Awesome Show" and eventual "Check It Out" DVDs.

Buy Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy / Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Songs List: "Up Our Holes", Aimee Mann - "Two Horses", John C. Reilly - "Taquito Rap", Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim - "Dobis PR", Tim Heidecker - "You Are My Son", John Kries - "Tim and Eric Have Done It Again"

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Reviewed May 9, 2012.



Text copyright 2012 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2012 Magnet, Magnolia Pictures, 2929 Productions, Funny or Die Productions, Abso Lutely Productions, and Magnolia Home Entertainment.
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