F.A.R.T. The Movie
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(Jul 27, 2010)
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The cult classic is available on DVD for the first time! Russell has two passions: watching television and farting! He also loves Heather. Heather HATES farting. The eternal triangle! One day she warns him, "if they ever allow farting on television, you'
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You know you're in for a rough ride when "The Medicine Wheel Band" launches into the theme song, "Life Is A Gas" ("Blow it out of your behind...") over the opening credits while Russell stinks up an elevator and eats a Polish sausage. Clearly this is a one joke film. How much of a one joke film it is becomes evident very quickly after he breezes home on a bus to his 15,000 square foot house (What, he can't afford a car?) His little problem alienates his wife and her amorous advances (OK, gross) and he explains that "Passing gas is nature's way of putting a grin on your face." ("Please go smile in the bathroom" is a corollary that never occurred to Heather.)
The film occurs on New Year's Eve, and Heather wants to go out while Russell wants to stay in and watch TV. Once you see the party Heather ends up at you will likely side with Russell on this one as I did. Most of the rest of the movie becomes a tedious process of watching Russell watch television. Everything on TV is flatus related, stretching the premise to the bursting point. The film is not clever, and is very dated: the hairstyles scream early 1990s, and the film appears to have been made in 1991 though copyrighted in 2005. (There are pitiful jokes about Dan Quayle clearing out the Senate and in one scene gas cost $0.88.) Why do I bring this up? Because the TV shows Russell watches require you to know a lot about the TV of the era to get the meager humor they provide.
The TV shows start right off with a dreadful Andy Rooney impression, in which Andy Rudney (Kim Delgado) engages in a lengthy diatribe on flatus: "...so don't blame the dog anymore, just argue harder with the onions." Oh my ribs. An ad for the "Vapor Hotline" asks the eternal question "Is it stress or merely Mexican food?" Meanwhile Heather is at a simply boorish party missing Russell (why?) while terrible one-liners pass for dialogue. Russell finds the addleminded routines of what may be the world's three worst stand up comedians on "The Rude Dudes" show to be absolutely entrancing ("Do we have any flatulent people here tonight?") Any guess what the exclusive subject of the humor was?
I didn't think I could get much more appalled by the sheer awfulness of the film, but I was wrong when Russell played along at home with the TV game show "Who Cut The Cheese?" This is one of the most unendurable pieces of comedy ever filmed, yet it's also the reason I gave the film two stars rather than the one it likely deserves. My reasoning is twofold: first, it puts the film over the top in the category of films so awful that bad movie aficionados need to seek it out in furtherance on their B-movie education, and second, it features Ed Wood antihero Conrad Brooks in one of his most embarrassing onscreen appearances. (For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Brooks' body of work, that is a huge assertion.) I don't know how the producers got Brooks, but he definitely makes the film more highbrow.
The film gets more blatant in its cultural references when it features a talent show (don't EVEN ask) called "The Bong Show" starring (brace yourself) Barris Chuck. Really; I couldn't make this up. An aside: Al Gore could do a better and less wooden Chuck Barris impression. "The Bong Show" fades to an image of a television preacher (Robert Axelrod) ranting about "The Devil's Thunder" (euphemisms like "barking spiders" abound throughout) and asking you to send him money. In an attempt to mine every cultural reference possible, Russell proclaims his constitutionally-protected status as a person of gas (my term) and then pays awkward homage to "Gone With The Wind."
Meanwhile at the party, Heather is pining for Russell's noxious stink (and drinking a glass of air) while the hostess announces a time-wasting and totally gratuitous performance by "The Medicine Wheel Band" of their hit "Life Is A Gas." Be sure to remember to laugh as the bluebloods dance to a country and western number about flatus complete with a rippin' and squeakin' slide guitar solo. Russell is at the same time watching an ad complete with spastic dancers in track suits hocking the album of "M.C. Gaseous'" latest dance hits including "Yo Yo Yo Beans," "Release It," and of course "Fresh Air For Mikey." (If you order now you'll also get the latest dance sensation "Do The Butt Fan.") Russell starts getting morose after finishing a 12-pack and eating old pizza from the trash compactor and tunes in to the news, where station manager Fred Rear gives a stirring commentary on rock concerts in what may be the single worst piece of acting ever filmed. (I am so not even joking.) Russell's viewing day concludes with an attempt at a film-within-a-film recap of the action thus far (NO!!!) The eternal question "Is your colon half empty or half full?" is discussed at some length, as is the ultimate cure for intestinal gas, "flatusuction." (Which is actually the only genuinely semi-amusing concept in the whole sordid steaming pile.)
Heather has a smelly Felliniesque new year celebration at the party (avert your eyes if you know what's good for you) and a stirring conclusion reinforces the theme that love overcomes all smells. The ending is allegedly a plot twist but given that the rest of the plotpoints are...ummmm...reminiscent...of other films, I am highly doubting that you won't see it coming, unless you are perhaps a trout.
I am generously disposed to Conrad Brooks, and he really helped this film in my final appraisal. This is an incredibly cheaply made, horribly written, ill-conceived, unfunny, smelly excuse for a comedy. If you can make it through the credits you will be amazed at the gigantic breadth of the cast as "The Medicine Wheel Band" shares another hit. If you wish to inflict maximal B-movie pain on someone over the age of 13 it would be difficult to do worse than "F.A.R.T.: The Movie."
F.A.R.T. The Movie, written and directed by Matt Berman, is like a trip back to the drive-in in the mid-eighties. It tells the story of Artie (Seth Walther), who was born with the disorder of rampant flatulence. In basic terms he farts, and the more upset or nervous he becomes, the more he farts. With such a problem, it is no wonder the guy has low self-esteem. So like every nerdy guy out there, he has a woman who becomes his dream, his fantasy, his ever-distant object of desire. In this case that would be Andre'a Parker (Christine Steel), the cold and insulting woman Artie would die for. His buddies, Bear (Kevin Farley), Scooter (John Farley), and Donnie (Chris Soldevilla), all accept his obsession and try to down play it as much as they can. We meet the characters as they return for what should be their last year of college. In the course of settling back in for the new semester, Artie meets and helps Emily (Heather McComb), a new student transferring in from an all-girl school. Instant attraction on both sides, of course. But being the simple creatures we men are, we can't just forget years of obsessing over that which we can never have, and there you have Artie's basic point of conflict throughout the film.
Let's cut straight to the core of this film. The whole fart disorder thing is mostly a gimmick. I love fart humor; a good number of guys do, and even a few women do as well. Almost everyone has fond memories of the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles. F.A.R.T. The Movie has a great scene when Artie goes with Emily to have dinner at her grandparents with a number of truly funny fart-related jokes. But the disorder tends to come and go when it should or possibly could make its presence known. So when you peel that element away, you are left with a fairly basic romantic comedy. It plays itself out fairly well, with an ending that is somewhat forced. It's too late to change things now, but if there had been just one other scene of development between the main characters, perhaps some deeper emotional connections would have been better established. When the material is middle of the road, it takes the cast to carry things across the finish line with grace, and the cast does a good job here.
Seth Walther plays Artie as the typical dorky but likeable guy who speaks for all the silent nerd types out there who ever lusted after a woman with enough conviction that it almost borders on becoming a stalker. Artie's friends are handled well and with almost manic confidence by the Farley men and Mr. Soldevilla. Christine Steel plays Andre'a with enough humanity that you can see how Artie could develop an obsession, but offers up enough coldness that you have to wonder why Artie can't see that she is out of reach. Then you have Heather McComb pumping her slightly underdeveloped character full of good-natured warmth and openness that will have guys wondering "Why didn't I meet women like this in college?" The overall look of the film is workable.
It has the whole "shot-on-location with a minimal budget" look that helps this kind of film appear more like what I remember my college days to be like. Big Hollywood films tend to want the whole Ivy League look in their films, but, face it, a big chunk of us didn't go to Harvard or Yale. The director acknowledges that the bulk of his cast don't look to be college age, and I have to admit that I was slightly thrown by that at first, but as the film progresses, you accept the characters and ignore the age thing. However, when they start referencing television programs like Cannon with William Conrad (the series ended around 1976), you can't help but wonder how old these people really are. So grab some beer, pizza, and a few friends and kick back to watch F.A.R.T. The Movie. Laugh, talk, and have fun like you would have if you were at the drive-in. And if you don't remember much about the movie after a few days, that just gives you a good excuse to do it all over again.