This month marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most infamous bad movies of all time…
Director: Tom Green
Stars: Tom Green, Rip Torn, Marisa Coughlan
It goes pretty much how you’d expect.
As if it was a sign from a gracious deity above, I turned 17 the exact week the very R-rated FREDDY GOT FINGERED was released in theaters. The buzz for this movie was epically bad. I specifically remember reading Roger Ebert’s review, which referred to Tom Green’s cinematic debut as a “vomitorium” and opened with: “This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.”
My friends and I paid to see it twice opening weekend.
Thanos needed a glove with magic stones. All Tom Green needed to destroy half the universe was a single finger.
It’s interesting watching this movie two decades later. Obviously, 98% of FREDDY GOT FINGERED (title included) would not fly with modern, more culturally-aware audiences. Hell, most of it was too much for critics and viewers back in 2001. It’s literally just a vague amalgamation of weird, immature, disgusting and generally stupid things for Tom Green to do to challenge the audience on every level—physically, psychologically, spiritually. It’s a manic and slightly sociopathic comedy for the ADHD generation, chock full of despicable, reprehensible humor.
I sort of love it.
It was certainly next-level to include the director’s reaction to audience reviews in the movie itself.
I recognize that it’s terrible; just the absolute worst. But that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? Watching it now with the wisdom of hindsight with regards to pop culture coming out of 1990s and Tom Green’s anarchic place within that landscape, FREDDY GOT FINGERED seems less like an abysmal cinematic experience and more of an artistic exercise in someone seeing how much they could get away with on somebody else’s dime. And in that respect this movie is 100% successful.
Can you imagine being the studio executive reading the script for this movie? Where do you even start—cheese sandwiches, repeated violence against women and children, sausage-infused musical instruments, light bestiality? The fact that this monstrosity was ever greenlit, shot, and released as-is is nothing short of a miracle and a testament to Green’s resilience. It’s the $14 million equivalent of someone saying, “I don’t understand this at all, but my kids sure love this guy.”
I assume these props will be in the Smithsonian one day.
If you wanted to give it a shot, you should be able to tell if you can even stomach this movie within the first five minutes, when Green’s character Gordy is on a road trip, stops at a farm, proceeds to play with a horse’s erect penis, and then leaves. For absolutely no real reason other than shock value.
Think that’s bad? Then you’ll really enjoy seeing Green swing a newborn baby around by its umbilical cord and then biting through it (years before TWILIGHT made this socially acceptable), licking his best friend’s freshly broken bones, caning a paraplegic girl’s legs for sexual gratification, or cutting open a dead deer Tauntaun-style and dancing around in its carcass.
TFW everyone thinks your greatest cinematic achievement starred Sinbad instead of you.
Although to give Green the benefit of the doubt, he is completely in on the joke of whatever FREDDY GOT FINGERED is and seems to get amusement out of pissing people off. Not to mention this is a pretty well-directed movie.
In some ways it reminds me of a really perverse Monty Python film (not in quality, but in general insanity) and there is some level of entertainment value in that. In the second half, when FREDDY finally starts to follow an actual plot of a warring father and son trying to one-up each other, the film gets a little easier to swallow. It maintains the same craziness, just not as an unconnected series of gross-out vignettes involving random genitals and gore. This prepares the viewer for what I consider to be the pièce de résistance of the film—the climax (no pun intended) that involves Tom Green kidnapping his father, moving him and his house to Pakistan, and then masturbating an elephant until it ejaculates on him. Only after his dad is drowning in pachyderm semen can the father and son finally have a touching heart-to-heart and come to respect one another.
(^^ This is actually completely true.)
Why was this man nominated for a Razzie and not an Oscar?
The performances also surprisingly matter in a movie like this. Green is fine at doing exactly what he was famous for at the time. You may also recognize SUPER TROOPERS Marisa Coughlan as a sex-positive rocket scientist, who is in a wheelchair just for the tasteless jokes, as well as AIRPLANE’s Julie Hagerty as Gordy’s poor mother and AMERICAN PIE’s Eddie Kaye Thomas as the titular character, who has just enough screentime for the title to make sense.
However, it’s the late Rip Torn who is the real MVP of this movie as Tom Green’s absolutely insane father. Torn is a legitimate thespian, with a career that includes award-winning roles in movies from THE CINCINNATI KID to THE INSIDER. (Also, THE BEASTMASTER.) I don’t know what blackmail scheme led him to take a role in this film, but he commits 100% in ways that are still dumbfounding to this day. He also blesses us with so many amazing facial expressions throughout the movie.
And while I do believe his character’s crazed actions in FREDDY GOT FINGERED are a fairly accurate representation of what you would do if Tom Green was your son, that doesn’t excuse the new lows Torn’s career reaches here. Like pulling down his pants and asking his own son to sodomize him, committing more than one active hate crime, and of course the aforementioned elephant bukkake. I thought of Torn in that scene every time I saw him in a movie for the rest of his career.
Our thoughts exactly.
At the end of the day, the best part is that Roger Ebert’s legendary review for this movie is not inaccurate. No logical avenue exists for me to explain any part of FREDDY GOT FINGERED, let alone defend it. There’s nothing I can say that would change anyone’s mind who’s not already predisposed to enjoy Green’s particular brand of subversive insanity.
This movie is simply just a paradox. It simultaneously represents the worst and the best of what cinema can offer. It’s operating on a plane unfathomable to our own existence. FREDDY GOT FINGERED is 4D chess comprised of stupidity and dick jokes.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d type: Hope you like animal penis!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Someone is horribly injured
- Non-human genitalia is on display
- Gordy talks about stocks
- Someone attempts to give oral gratification
- You feel like drinking
Double shot if:
- Someone says “Japan Four”
Thanks to Kevin and Christoph for suggesting this week’s movie!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.
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