Movie 43review

2 / 5 stars 2 out of 5 stars.
A cameo parade of stars, some of whom have no obvious gift for comedy, try their hardest, but the laughs just aren't there
Movie 43
This is a comedy? … Kate Winslet in Movie 43. Photograph: K.C. Bailey/LFI/Photoshot

Movie 43 is sketchy, in every sense. It's a collection of short comedy films in the manner of the 70s cult classic Kentucky Fried Movie, each with a separate director, in which many very famous actors have been persuaded to take part. It looks like a lot of favours have been called in, from very big names who are being very good sports. It is crass, infantile, grossout, sometimes funny, mostly not, and most of all it's very strange to witness this cameo parade of stars, a substantial proportion of whom have no obvious gift for comedy.

The premise is that a couple of teenagers have fooled another kid into believing that there is an ultra-forbidden movie somewhere on the net called Movie 43; he tries to track it down, and uncovers a series of random filmed scenes – the sketches themselves. Why we couldn't just get the sketches without this pointless and unfunny framing device is a mystery.

The over-the-top approach is established with a scene in which Kate Winslet goes on a blind date with Hugh Jackman, who has a large pair of testicles growing out of his neck. Winslet gives it everything she's got – dismay, polite disgust, climbing panic at realising she is the only one who notices – while Jackman plays it dead straight in just the right way, and there is a kind of outrageous verve in keeping it going as long as they do. But actual laughs are scarce. The other "blind date" sketch with Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry is similar: there are some amiably silly moments, but an eerie silence where the chuckles are supposed to go.

More successful is a very non-PC sketch in which Terrence Howard plays a coach for first black high school basketball team in the US, and has to explain to his timid players that they are bound to win – because they are black.

Like Kentucky Fried Movie, Movie 43 is aimed squarely at the filthy-minded teenage-boy market, but where KFM was teeming with surreal ideas, Movie 43 looks a bit cynical and tired.