Sundance 2012: Angry moviegoers storm out of 'Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie'
The number of walkouts during a recent Sundance showing of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, was almost as funny as the vulgar abominations of comedy happening on screen.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, known for their bizarre comedy sketch show Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job! on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, expanded their gallery of grotesques and non sequiturs to a feature-length movie, which made its debut here in Park City.
The surreal (to say the least) story follows Tim and Eric after they lose $1 billion on a movie starring a Johnny Depp lookalike, then have to take over an apocalyptic shopping mall full of hobos, wolves, and losers to earn back the money. Bloodshed, sadistic bathroom humor, and heavy-duty nincompoopery follow.
At least one couple storming out of the theater actually hollered back at the screen. Heidecker and Wareheim could barely contain their glee at a post-screening Q&A. “What’d he say?” Heidecker demanded.
The incident happened during a scene where the two guys are riding around in a cart chasing hobos out of the derelict mall, screaming “Get the f— out!”
A man stomping out of the theater at that moment shouted back, “We f—ing ARE!” About two dozen people had already fled before that, and many more took off after. About two-thirds of the audience remained by the time the credits rolled.
When Heidecker and Wareheim took the stage for the Q&A, the audience was both playful and hostile. The guys made up nicknames for the questioners, and the questioners weren’t shy about mocking them back.
“Questions?” Heidecker said, kicking things off. “What kind of questions could you possibly have?”
“What the f—!” one audience member shouted.
Heidecker’s answer: “F— you. What else? … You, baldy?”
The folically challenged moviegoer asked about a scene where the two roly-poly gentlemen share a bath and shave each other. “Which one of you got wood first?”
“Next question,” Heidecker answered.
“What’s the moral of the story?” someone shouted.
“Friendship,” Heidecker snapped.
“Next?” Wareheim said.
“What was the actual budget of the film and how much of that budget was for drugs?” a woman asked.
The audience laughed. “It’s a low-budget film,” Wareheim shrugged. “Under a billion.”
Their favorite part? “For me, it’s seeing it in a movie theater. We’re used to TV where there’s not a [live] audience. To see it with a group of people who are enjoying it, or cringing and screaming, or covering their eyes the whole time, that’s kind of amazing for me.”
What happens next?: Tim tortures an old lady onstage
Heidecker then pointed at a senior citizen sitting in the audience. “I have a question … Can you come up here?”
The woman shrank in her chair, but he walked off the stage to escort her up. “Come on, I want to see what you thought,” he said.
“I’m just wondering if I’m the oldest person in here,” said the woman, who was smiling through her fear.
Heidecker cradled her close. “Ladies and gentlemen, my wife is here tonight!” he declared. Holding the microphone to her lips, he asked: “What’d you think?”
“It was … okay,” she sighed. As she returned to her seat, the audience applauded.
Someone asked what they liked better: Making people laugh or making them squirm?
Next page: What do you THINK they enjoy more?
“I think laughter is sort of what we’re going for,” Heidecker said. “I think our fans laugh at things that make other people squirm. It’s fun to watch how different people are.”
Wareheim said the movie would not have gotten financed if not for stars singing on, such as Will Ferrell (playing a psychotic mall owner), John C. Reilly (a Tiny Tim-esque ailing child), Will Forte (a deranged sword salesman), Zack Galifianakis (a new age guru) and Jeff Goldblum (as “Chef Goldblum”). “[Financiers] were like, ‘Is Will Ferrell really going to be in this? Okay, here’s a billion dollars,'” Wareheim said.
“You … Glasses?” Heidecker said.
The guy in the wire-rims asked about their supporting cast of unknown and peculiar-looking performers. “We cast some legitimate character actors, as you saw, some real funny comedians, and then some people that — we like to say — put a headshot up online and forgot about it, maybe. We dig through to the bottom of the pile and find them, then give them lots of lines.”
It wasn’t all brutal give-and-take. One young woman asked where she could see their TV show.
This bit of information knocked the duo back a little. “You didn’t know who we were?” Heidecker asked. “So what was that experience like?”
She laughed. “It was great!”
Heidecker looked both stunned and relieved. “We tried to make this movie with our fans in mind in our hearts, but we didn’t want it to be exclusionary. … It’s nice to know at least somebody like that got it.”
“How many people here have not seen the TV show?” Wareheim asked. About half the theater, which was only half-full at this point, put up their hands.
“Oh, wow …” Wareheim said.
One guy in the theater asked, “How did you get some of those cameos, like Johnny Depp and Steven Spielberg?” Heidecker and Wareheim frowned. (These characters in the movie are obvious impersonators.) “Okay, that’s the last joke question,” Heidecker said.
Someone asked about the rating process. “We just submitted this version and got an R,” Wareheim said. “We were like, ‘Holy s–t! We DON’T have to cut out that penis-piercing scene!?'”
As the movie started, Wareheim said he was lingering in the lobby and caught some of the early walkouts.
“A woman and, I think, her two daughters were leaving right away,” he said. “She sees me, and under her breath, she goes, ‘Ugh … You call that creativity? I spent money on that s–t?'” He shrugged. “The movie is not for everyone. But there is a part of us that is like, ‘Yes!’ if it moves people to yell at it or get out. That’s great.”
The Sundance premiere of Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie came in advance of its video-on-demand debut this weekend.
If you want to cause a spectacle while walking out of it yourself, you’ll have to wait for the limited theatrical debut on March 2.