Published Apr 01, 2001It must be Ottawa. I can't think of any other reason for what I'm about to write. Tom Green, like myself and a lot of other people I know, has spent far too much time living in the nation's capital. That bastion of civil servitude will either kill you or make you leave. As most people know, Green left Ottawa and eventually made his way to L.A., that bastion of cinema servitude. And that weird guy with the strange cable 10 show made it to the big time. Yeah, good for him. And that immature toilet humour made me laugh. Now that's the strange part. "Freddy Got Fingered," Tom Green's directorial debut, is funny. I laughed and that's what you're supposed to do. More importantly, however, I squirmed. Green, it seems, likes to explore the fringes, lift up the rocks, go into the corners where most people fear to clean. Then he shows you what we've swept under the rug.
"Freddy Got Fingered" is about Gord Brody a "28 year old man" who moves out of his parent's basement and goes to Hollywood to make it as an animator, the latest unjustifiably "glamour" job. When he fails, he returns much to his father's (Rip Torn) chagrin. This is an age-old story about a son trying to earn his father's love and acceptance done large.
Tom Green's character, if you can call it that, is not subtle. He does not read between the lines. If he's told to do something, he does it. When his girlfriend, Betty (Marisa Coughlan) suggests that he eat and play music while he draws, Gord does exactly that. No reading between the lines for him. And none, apparently for his audience, either. This is where Green is smart. Between the penis jokes and the obvious gags, are his throwaway lines. You've just got to follow and listen while you squirm.
Like most people, Green likes to look at car accidents. But where most people politely drive slowly and gaze carefully, Green pulls over, parks, walks straight in and gawks within a hairsbreadth of the poor bugger in the car. How impolite! How morbid! How hypocritical of us to want to do the same thing, but don't have the audacity. Not that we should do what Green does. We shouldn't lick our best friend's broken leg. We shouldn't bite through the umbilical cord of a newborn. It's gross and disgusting, right? So why do people watch, pay money for the privilege and laugh.
I am willing to bet Green watched an inordinate amount of "Pee Wee's Playhouse." Paul Ruebens also acted out as a grown man living in a child like world made up of caricatures with injections of bawdy sexual innuendo, but Green overdoses to Downey-esque proportions. Yes, there are farm animals with large penises in close up at which the audience laughed uproariously. There was the cheese sandwich scene with the large salami which garnered the same result. Penises are pretty funny, I guess, but not shocking. The "sex " scenes, however, were. This underscores Green's impoliteness. Green doesn't have a taste for the maudlin and sappy so he turns it on its head.
So why go to these lengths to tell us what dark comedians have been doing forever? Perhaps we've forgotten, or never got the point. The soundtrack fits perfectly: impolite music that was once out of step with the mainstream and still makes boring people cringe. I was teased early with the Sex Pistols' "Problems," kept on board with the Ramones' "We're a Happy Family," and won over by Dead Kennedys' "I Fought the Law." Musically, these tunes, along with the others I didn't mention, tell the tale nicely. Even down to Green taking the piss out of family life: images of "Leave It To Beaver," Gord's June Cleaverish mom (Julie Hagerty). The clincher, the big squirm is the climax where you find out why the film got it's title. It's terrible, rude, horrible, and leaves you wondering, where you can sign up to get away with what Green manages to pull off. Plus, the weird guy, Green, gets the girl, Drew Barrymore. I'm still not sure why I laughed because I don't generally like fart jokes. Perhaps it's the outrageousness off it all and how easy it is to do.