We here at Monster Fresh are huge fans of the comedy team of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. These days, the duo is most widely acknowledged for their sketch comedy program Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! that airs on the Cartoon Network‘s late night programming block Adult Swim and features jarring quick-cut editing, flashes of Pokemon-seizure-level anxiety, and public access/early ’80s instructional video aesthetics.
Prior to the Awesome Show, Tim and Eric starred-in/created Tom Goes to the Mayor, another Adult Swim program that, unlike it’s follow-up, was primarily animated and much more story-based. The limited animation style of TGTTM was created from highly expressive (both facially and bodily) still images -processed through photo-shop to resemble photocopies and making for incredibly jumpy transitional movements for the characters- to tell the stories. The program, which evolved from a web series, had a very specific aesthetic of it’s own, while including random live action clips interspersed throughout it. When the Awesome Show was created, it adopted some of those same live action characters (ie. married news team, Jan and Wayne Skylar). It also brought with it some of the many co-stars/cameos that Heidecker and Wareheim had managed to work with on Tom Goes to the Mayor (Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Jeff Goldblum, etc.). With the shift into the more fragmented approach of the Awesome Show, an altogether new, yet equally distinct, aesthetic was created that came to define the duo. Eschewing the static imagery and stiff facsimile look of the two-tone TOM for schizophrenic blips and the diced-up scattered imagery of their new program, the live action felt decidedly more “animated” and, for lack of a better word, psychedelic. It was like laying half-chloroformed in a bin of mixed candy’s while a wall of televisions flipped through clips of Max Headroom, QVC, white noise, Univision, and Sid and Mary Krofft outtakes. While TGTTM was like a pill high (or, low, rather), The Awesome Show was like floating out of an LSD or Molly trip, while spiking your high back up with OJ, wasabi, and a cocktail of the shit that gets you crunk, but wasn’t necessarily created for that intended purpose (solvents, dramamine, nitrous, Robitussin). The strychnine was dirty. The cinematography often felt like a real life John Kricfalusi cartoon. This was a style that followed Wareheim into directorial work in videos for the likes of MGMT, The Bird and the Bee, Major Lazer, and Depeche Mode, as well as commercials for Old Spice. They’ve done live tours and even some short films for HBO‘s Funny Or Die presents, but this week the comedy duo is attempting to translate their trademark tomfoolery onto the big screen (or small screen, depending) with a handful of somewhat unorthodox promotional methods.
Co-presented by Funny Or Die, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie revolves around the concept that the stars were given one-billion dollars to make a film, but pretty much blow it all immediately and are then expected to repay what they’ve fizzled away. From there, hijinks and comedy ensue. Many Awesome Show pals and semi-regulars such as John C. Reilly, Zach Galifianakis, Jeff Goldblum, Will Forte, and Will Ferrell make appearances, along with the folks who’ve starred in memorable sketches/segments and earned most of their own recognizability through the Adult Swim program (James Quall, David Liebe Hart, and Palmer Scott). Perhaps the most intriguing twists come with their consistent casting of historically more “stoic” or “serious” personalities like Robert Loggia (Scarface, Big), William Atherton (Ghostbusters, Die Hard), Costas Mandylor (Picket Fences, Mobsters), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, 24), and even business tycoon/executive producer, Marc Cuban (Dallas Mavericks, Lionsgate ent., etc.). There is even narration provided by Michael Gross of Family Ties fame. Simply based on nothing other than the trailer alone, the film is unmistakably a Tim & Eric production, but, as stated before, it is intended to follow a somewhat cohesive storyline and veer away from their typically and disorientingly warped pacing, which is far less likely to work as effectively in a longer format.
Tim and Eric have stated that, after 5 seasons in as many years, the Awesome Show is effectively over in it’s current form. Just like their previous jump from Tom Goes to the Mayor, the guys are moving on to new projects with the hopes that they will be received as successfully as the one that they’re moving on from. To ensure that help to insure that people support their newest venture, Heidecker and Wareheim have created a form that anyone can print out and sign, pledging that they will make the effort to go out and watch Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, among other things.
In a relatively short period of time, an impressive number of celebrities (as well as us lesser, common-folk) have videotaped themselves signing the document. Here are a few of the more notable uploads…
More videos on the official BDMPLEDGE Youtube Page HERE.
Over the last week or so, Heidecker and Wareheim premiered their decidedly “raunchy” Billion Dollar Movie at -of all places- The Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Throughout the frenzy of publicity that occurs at the world famous “indie” film fest, the duo participated in more than a handful of interviews. Most of the footage simply shows the guys toying with interviewers and/or pushing the idea of a conspiracy that their film was actually being re-edited by studio heads to incorporate outtakes from the animated Johnny Depp lizard/Western vehicle Rango and pleading for the fans to help petition against Sundance, begging the festival to hear their pleas and show the “original” pure and “un-Rango’ed” version.
Instead of promoting their film in the typical manner and allowing the interview to progress in the direction that the interview is likely hoping and prepared for(discussing the film, etc), this following interaction with In The Can demonstrates Tim and Eric redirecting the tone and subject in their own unique and expertly perfected manner.
[If you’re short on time, but still into really awkward shit, jump ahead to view the 6:47 – 7:25 mark]
As their wolf cries about Rango continued, it was great to see people like Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) jump in to perpetuate the absurdity.
Here’s a nicely polished and edited little video that shows a condensed 360 version of the entire Rango’ing saga.
THE RELEASE (Sundance, Theaters, On-Demand, & Youtube)
Not all of the press that Tim and Eric participated in at Sundance was focused on or redirected towards the propaganda about Rango. In fact, some of the interviews actually showcase footage where the filmmakers are the most “out-of-character” than we’ve probably ever seen them. One such interview with The Hollywood Reporter stays pretty much on topic throughout it’s majority, but they do make tongue in cheek references about people walking out of films. For those of you who bother to watch until after the credits of the last “Rango Saga” video (@2:36 mark) you will see footage of Eric Wareheim claiming that he and his partner “killed Sundance” and that the movie was “a total hit“. Whether that’s an accurate account of the film’s reception or not is subjective, but what we do know is that plenty of people got up ans simply walked out in the middle of the screenings. [To be fair, it’s not the only controversial movie that drove uncomfortable patrons from the theaters mid-screening; Rick Alverson’s, The Comedian, a drama about aging uncouth hipster’s -also starring Heidecker and featuring Wareheim, along with James Murphy of LCD Soundsytem and DFA Records– also proved to be incredibly polarizing.]
In an even more frank and straightforward interview with /FILM, they discuss how they didn’t bother to “cater” their work towards the Sundance “community” at all and make sure to stress that the film was intentionally created to be viewed on the big screen, implying that witnessing the full and varied audience interaction is part of the overall experience. In that same interview, they further explain that their compromise with finding alternate methods of release outside of theaters came from an acknowledgement that, with the films limited theater release, many fans might be unable to view the film otherwise. In fact, their Video On Demand release, which began yesterday (January 27th), arrives more than a full month before the March 2nd theatrical debut for the public.
Taking further advantage of what current technology has to offer, Tim and Eric have also made the film available for advanced screening on Youtube. You may have noticed, through accidental clicks or otherwise, that Youtube has added the option to rent feature length films on the site. No? Yes? Well, they have and the Billion Dollar Movie is one such movie that is currently available. This evens the playing field further, for those who do not have access to On demand through their televisions. Here… I’ll let the creators sell you the idea themselves.
If you still haven’t caught on yet, you’re being bamboozled with the stalling youtube video above; it’s all chicanery and Hollywood magic. It’s a parody y’all… shenanigans. But seriously folks… if you want to rent it on youtube, you can do so through HERE.
To visit the official Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie website, CLICK HERE.
If you’ve made it through this entire post (videos included), great job!