Few audiences will resist the spot-the-star aspect of Movie 43

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Starring Dennis Quaid, Halle Berry, and Kate Winslet. Rated 14A

Movie 43 shoves together a whole bunch of movie and TV people for comic sketches that often get more groans than guffaws, although when the laughs come, they can be explosive. Credited to 12 directors, including Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Bob Odenkirk, and Brett Ratner, the flick is a fast-moving mishmash of styles, yet it somehow always comes back to the scatological and the phallocentric.

Few audiences will resist the spot-the-star aspect of a movie that finds Uma Thurman as a speed-dating Lois Lane, Richard Gere as a Steve Jobs–like (yet clueless) tycoon, Gerard Butler as two unusually violent leprechauns, and Halle Berry stirring guacamole with her left boob (prosthetically speaking).

A very loose framing device finds Dennis Quaid as a scraggly screenwriter pitching increasingly outrageous scenes to Greg Kinnear’s meek studio exec. By the time dude pulls a gun to make other dude hear the rest, some viewers will relate to that hostage feeling—perhaps with a deeper understanding of how a lot of Hollywood “product” gets made.

The randomly titled effort can’t really top its opening salvo, with a sleek Kate Winslet on a blind date, confronted in public by successful businessman Hugh Jackman’s huge, um, jackmans. The next seg comes close, with Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as suburbanites determined not to deprive their home-schooled son of regular high-school experiences—including bullying, rejection, and sexual initiation. (If your bong hits don’t wear off, stay through the credits for one more vignette, directed by and starring Elizabeth Banks, as a gal who can’t compete with boyfriend Josh Duhamel’s animated and very demented cat.)

The filmmakers can be forgiven for their relentless taboo tweaking, especially with a cast this big and boisterous. But when Anna Faris talks a reluctant fiancé into crapping on her, we realize that, given the freedom, some comic types will only do what is forbidden, not what is possible. Creativity is a bitch, innit?

Watch the trailer for Movie 43.
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