The Guilty Pleasure of Bad Movies: Freddy Got Fingered

GuiltyFingeredWhat the actual fuck! I honestly don’t know how to review this movie! There are just no words to describe this! Released in 2001, “Freddy Got Fingered” was a transparent excuse for Tom Green to do all the wierd shit Mtv wouldn’t let him do on his show during the late 90s. It didn’t even break even at the box office, making just under its $15 million dollar budget.
Tom plays Gord Brody, an aspiring animator who still lives with his parents at 28. At the beginning of the movie, after an admittedly fun opening title sequence of Gord skateboarding through a busy mall while chased by a screaming security guard, he meets his parents, played by Rip Torn and Julie Haggerty, and his brother Freddy, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas, a.k.a. Finch from “American Pie.”

Right away, Gord is behaving exactly like Tom did on his show, and a process I refer to as the “Tom Green Effect” starts. His style of “comedy” involves introducing an unusual element into a mundane situation, Tom being the unusual element, of course, and it starts off small and quiet. Tom might stand behind someone and softly repeat the same word at uneven intervals. Then he starts to escalate the oddity, building up the wierdness in carefully timed layers, until he’s flailing his arms and screming at the top of his voice. He would repeat the same words or actions until it stopped being funny, then he’d keep doing it for an uncomfortably long time, and then it got funny again. In theory.

Now at first, you might just say “That’s fucking stupid!” and you’re right, BUT, it’s also very clever. Some people have compared Tom to Andy Kaufman, on the basis that you could never be sure if he really was that wierd, or if everything he ever did was just an act to troll the world. And I can see this. It’s entirely plausible that Tom knew exactly what he was doing, and had every situation completely under controll. He understood how people think, and wanted to challenge the way they reacted to unusual situations. Or he’s just fucking nuts.

Anyway, Gord is leaving home to move to Hollywood and try to sell his animations. In addition to this, he also has a job lined up at his uncle’s cheese sandwich factory. The cheese sandwich making becomes significant later. For about 5 minutes. This leads into the first of Drew Barrymore’s cameos, because of course it was during this time that she and Tom were supposedly married. They had an impromptu wedding on stage at Saturday Night Live, but no one was ever 100% sure if it was real or staged. That’s some classic Andy Kaufman right there.

So after one failed attempt to sell his idea for a cartoon, Gord quits his job at the cheese sandwich factory and moves back home to his parents house to try to come up with a new show idea and improve on his artwork. Meanwhile, Gord is getting heat from his dad about getting a job. Gord’s dad is slightly crazy. And when I say slightly crazy, I mean this guy is a raving lunatic! But with a guy like Tom Green for a son, I think I would have gone round the bend, myself. The dynamic between Gord and his dad is simple: Gord does something crazy, and his dad does something even crazier in retaliation to show that he doesn’t like what Gord’s doing.

I swear I’m not making this up.

Anyway, back to what passes for a story. Gord’s friend, Darren, played by Harland Williams, breaks his leg skateboarding in their newly completed ramp, so Gord goes to visit him in the hospital, and while there meets Betty, played by Marisa Coughlan, a pretty young doctor confined to a wheelchair. Somehow, they hit it off, and Gord scores her phone number. This leads to the Betty subplot, where they only way she can get off is having a guy cane her paralyzed legs. And in return, she gives blowjobs. Lots of blowjobs.

After a few more scenes of random crazyness, where Gord lies to Betty and says he’s a stockbroker, culminating in a huge fight with his dad in the middle of a fancy restaurant, the feud between Gord and his dad reaches critical mass, so Gord’s mom forces them to go to family counseling.

Ok, it’s time to talk about the title. Gord is a pathological liar. He lies to everyone, all the time, for no reason whatsoever. And apart from his dad, everyone, fucking EVERYONE believes his bullshit without question. And so, during the family counsiling session, Gord accuses his dad of taking his brother Freddy downstairs behind the water heater and fingering him. Freddy, by the way, is 25 years old. When the therapist goes to the house with a cop, they see Freddy is an adult, he flatly denies ever getting fingered, but they take him away anyway. Freddy spends the rest of the film in the home for sexually abused children. No really, that’s what’s on the sign they show outside the building.

Gords mother leaves his dad the next day, and now it’s just Gord and his dad, alone in the house. However, Gord has finally created a winning cartoon idea: “Zebras in America,” a show about zebra centuars based on Gord’s family. Somehow this becomes the most popular cartoon in the country. Go figure. With the million dollars Gord gets for an advance, he drugs his dad, keeps him in a coma for a week, and has his room cut out of the house, and moved to Pakistan in response to a comment his dad made earlier in the movie. This eventually leads to a touching reconciliation between father and son, and then the movie just kind of trails off for about 10 more minutes before it finally ends.

This movie is a real guilty pleasure. It’s not exactly the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and there are still several scenes and gags that can make me laugh, but these are separated by a lot of other scenes of Tom molesting animals, and driving the same joke into the ground whether it works or not. Also for some reason, Tom thought it would be funny to have a running joke about a little boy who is constantly getting hit in the face in increasingly violent ways, leading up to him walking into a spinning airplane propeller.

But overall, it makes me nostalgic for the late 90’s when I was in high school. Tom Green was still on Mtv, and to my 18-year-old self, everything he did was weird and exciting and hilarious. From all the interviews I’ve seen from other people who know or worked with Tom, he’s usually pretty normal until the camera goes on, then he goes into character and refuses to come out.

After Mtv, Tom tried to make the transition to the big screen, and for a short time, it was strangely popular to cast Tom Green in your movie so you could say you had Tom Green in your movie acting like Tom Green. But his movie career was unremarkable, consisting of a few minor roles as a character actor, until finally running out of momentum by the time he wrote, directed, and starred in “Freddy.”
I plan on looking at Tom’s other movies this summer not only because I really want to analyze this Andy Kaufman comparison, but also because I just like watching bad movies, and this one is a prime example.

Check it out sometime if you’re in the mood for some gross-out comedy and some great over-the-top performances by Rip Torn. The alternative is “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” because “Rocky Horror Picture Show” was infintely better.

Enjoy!

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