“This film not only left me with an incredible sense of dread for the 80 minutes of my life wasted on this repulsive experience, but filled me with a desire for revenge to certify that its producers would be publicly condemned, its actors never hired again, and Tom Green hoisted high above the Hollywood skyline to signify that decent humans would never again allow his menacing psyche and disgusting imagination to pilfer our society again.” – Howie-22, IMDb.com
“It’s a movie that gets its emotional effects effortlessly: an intelligent drama imbued with the classic craftsmanship, engrossing narrative and smooth “finish” of the better Golden Age studio products.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Opie and Dopey
Finally, I’m done with 2000 and don’t need to think about Russell Crowe in Gladiator or that Greener Barry Pepper in Battlefield Earth anymore. Two movies that were complete polar opposites that I had to struggle so much to find similarities. Thank god it’s over. Let’s see, what’s up to bat for 2001? A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe and Freddy Got Fingered starring Tom Green. Dammit. Well, some people hate both films, some people love both films, and some people prefer one to the other. I’ve gotta talk about these films eventually, and I want you all to read this article, so I guess I’ll have to alternate between paragraphs, from one movie to the other, so that in the end everyone is happy. At least that’s my brilliant theory. So, let’s jump right into it and talk about a movie of a genius who is close to driving himself to madness and a movie of an idiot who was close to driving me to madness.
Directed by Ron Howard, still riding high off of the critically acclaimed How the Grinch Stole Christmas and written by Akiva Goldsman, still riding high off of the critically acclaimed Batman & Robin, A Beautiful Mind tells the tale of real life mathematician John Nash. The film begins in 1947 at Princeton and Nash is a new student there hoping to come up with his own true original idea. While everyone around him are having their own successes and ideas, our hopeless hero is struggling to come up with a theorem of his own. Hell, even Ron Howard managed to come up with an original idea by not casting his brother Clint in this movie, it shouldn’t be that difficult, Nash.
Directed by Tom Green, still riding high off of the critically acclaimed Road Trip, Freddy Got Fingered tells the tale of the nincompoop Gord Brody played by real life nincompoop Tom Green. Like John Nash, Gord is trying to come up with his own true original idea, this time in animation form. Hoping to become a successful cartoonist, the unemployed 28-year old finally decides to move out of his parents’ basement in Oregon and travel to Los Angeles to make it big. His crotchety dad (Rip Torn), understanding mom (Julie Hagerty), and MILF-less younger brother Freddy (Eddie Kaye Thomas) see him off as he makes his way to Hollywood. No longer having to look after snakes while others go on fun adventures, Gord finally gets to drive down the coast and take in the scenery, doing what every cross country traveler would do, such as stopping to milk a horse.
While Gord was busy getting some glue out of the horse, Nash was busy watching pigeons and writing on windows. It’s not like he hasn’t been trying, after all, this guy is so smart he can do difficult math problems in his head, he doesn’t even need to steal calculators from convenient stores. At school he meets his new roommate Charles, who at first is worried that Nash is a dick. But thankfully for Charles, he isn’t one, and thankfully for Nash, his roommate is Charles and not Gord, because we’ve seen what Gord does with dicks. Anyway, thanks to one of his many failures at hitting on women at bars, Nash finally comes up with his perfect equilibrium. His professor congratulates him and Nash can finally ditch Princeton and go on his own road trip to do better things. And thankfully, he doesn’t stop to see all the pretty horses along the way.
Though everything seems to be going smoothly for our secluded student, the same can’t be said for our demented doodler. After settling in at Hollywood, Gord took a break from his day job at the cheese factory to sneak into Radioactive Animation Studio in order to show the head of the studio his sketches. Unfortunately, the boss wasn’t there, but his secretary was, played by Green’s then real life wife Drew Barrymore. However, once she filmed this scene, she realized what she’d gotten herself into and that she’s just not that into him, so they filed for divorce later that year. Anyway, she told Gord where to find the studio head Dave Davidson (Anthony Michael Hall) and then screamed at him to get out.
As Gord is hopping around Hollywood, Nash is pacing around the Pentagon. Walking into the secret base with walls covered in numbers, Nash was having a mathematical orgasm. Thanks to an impressive bit of deciphering, the government decides he is ready to take on those scary Soviets. After a failed audition to be the lead in Dragnet, William Palmer (Ed Harris) decided to keep his day job as a regular federal agent and approaches Nash to be a part of their secret team. Palmer made it clear to him that it’s all very off the record, on the QT, and very hush hush. Nash is told that he must constantly be on the lookout for hidden patterns and messages in everyday newspapers and magazines that can uncover a communist plot. Too bad for Nash that Spy vs. Spy wouldn’t be created for another decade or so, otherwise it would have saved him a lot of trouble.
Like our government spy, Gord too is going undercover. Dressed as a British Bobby, the confident cartoonist finds the studio head Davidson having lunch downtown (because he’s sick of breakfast). The counterfeit cop runs up to the boss, wailing and screaming at him, but having used up all flares in his locker, Davidson couldn’t call for help so he had to sit and listen to this bumbling bozo. Unfortunately, Gord’s pitch didn’t go too well, maybe it was the fact that he stuck a pistol in his mouth and threatened to kill himself because of rejection. Regardless, Davidson told him that his drawings were pretty good but they made no sense and that he had to get inside the characters to truly understand them. So, he decided to jump into the carcass of a dead animal, and while still in LA he stopped by Hollywood Boulevard to pick up his Best Actor Oscar, then he headed home to Oregon.
Unlike Gord, who doesn’t seem to have trouble spooning with others (even if they happen to be blood-soaked roadkill), our brilliant buddy Nash is having trouble hooking up with someone. And along with being a spy for the US government, to help pay the bills he also teaches class at MIT. But wouldn’t you know it, after several failed attempts at wooing women, the virginius catches the eye of one of his student Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and the two hit it off right away. Well, thankfully she didn’t know about his roommate Charlie, otherwise she probably would’ve gone out with him instead.
Meanwhile, the revenant Gord is back at home with his parents, bored and defeated. Hanging out with his buddy Darren (Harland Williams), the two pass time skating on the half pipe that’s in the yard. But after an unfortunate slip and a broken ankle later, Darren is sent to the hospital. Like any good friend would do (since licking Darren’s exposed bone didn’t do the trick) the least he could do is visit his pal. At the front desk of the hospital, Gord meets Betty (Marisa Coughlan). He’s immediately attracted to her and somehow he manages to get a date with her on the spot. Little does he know that her bum is on a wheelchair, but thankfully, she’s not planning to build an eighty foot tall mechanical tarantula, so he should be safe.
Though Gord’s still in the early stages of his blossoming relationship, Nash is moving faster than a baby with an umbilical cord. The professor takes his student Alicia out on a classy date to a fancy party. And though they’re both extremely educated people at a prestigious university, he manages to win her heart by impressing her with the kindergarten drawing book technique and traced a picture with some dots. Thankfully for her the stargazing did the trick, otherwise he might have tried singing.
While Nash is busy getting wed, Gord’s busy getting head. Unlike John Nash who constantly got rejected by his dates for wanting to skip the small talk and go straight to sex, Gord’s horny handicap is always ready for action. With a long stick on hand, Betty demands he smack her legs as hard as he can. He just can’t seem to get away from women who want to whip it. It also turns out the pretty paraplegic has quite the beautiful mind and has been working on building a rocket powered wheelchair. Not only does Gord have a rocket man friend in Darren but now he’s got a rocket woman, too.
All that action taking place in Greenland, Ron Howard had to pump things up. Just as Nash was starting to settle into things and have a normal life, the pesky Palmer returned to inform his academic agent that the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming. After an exciting car chase that was more thrilling than a NASCAR race, the agent tells his good Red hunter to be careful and not to trust anyone. He thought married life would be easier and mundane, but thanks to all these checkups with agent Palmer, the walls in Nash’s room look more confusing than a drip painting.
Wanting to slow down and take things easy, perhaps a little less S&M, Gord takes Betty out on a real date. Because his Bobby disguise worked so well in LA, Gord decides once again to disguise himself, this time as a successful stockbroker, so that he can impress Betty. If only he had done a little research, he would’ve know that all you have to do is draw an umbrella in the sky and she’s yours. But hey, at least Gord knows that his job in stocks is a fake job, unlike special agent Nash. Betty watches on as Gord shouts into his phone, pretending to make a business deal, and thankfully not throwing the phone at anyone. But as fate would fate would have it, or perhaps just lazy screenwriting, Gord’s parents happen to be having dinner at that very same restaurant at the same time. As Gord’s father is wagging his tongue faster than a female Psychlo, Gord’s shouting catches his attention, and as any normal diner would do, he leaps on his son and starts a chaotic brawl at the prestigious restaurant for everyone’s amusement.
Like Gord and his dad, Nash is looking pretty tuckered out. That persistent Palmer keeps spooking Nash by telling him there’s a Russian enemy at the gates, he keeps thinking anyone can be a communist spy. Even Nash’s co-workers are dazed and confused by the jittery genius’s mannerisms. It seems like the only ones he can trust are his old roommate pal Charles and his little niece Marcee. One day Nash was giving a lecture at his college when he finally snapped after seeing a strange man coming toward him from the audience. Perhaps it was because he thought it was Mike Wallace or perhaps it was because he was expecting it to be Kevin Spacey, but regardless, this unfamiliar man sedated the paranoid professor and took him to McArthur Psychiatric Hospital. Unfortunately, Marcus Aurelius wasn’t at McArthur’s to keep Nash company.
After that unfortunate incident at the restaurant, Gord’s dad has finally had enough so a psychiatrist comes to talk to the family, and… wait, what the hell? There’s a psychiatrist in Freddy Got Fingered and a psychiatrist in A Beautiful Mind? There’s actually something in common with these two movies, I’m genuinely shocked. Okay, so anyway, the doctor shows up to try to ease the tension between everyone, but Big Brody isn’t having any of it. Finally, to shut him up, Gord jumps in saying that his father fingers his brother Freddy. Well, it only took about thirty minutes left in the movie but the title finally makes sense. Rather than try to make up with his son and play a nice game of Hex or something, once again, the ferocious father gets into a giant fight with Gord. After having to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge his father’s attacks, he is kicked out of the house.
Back in Nashville, things are going so great either. It turns out that Nash’s pals Palmer, Charles, and Marcee aren’t real and our paranoid prodigy has been suffering from schizophrenia. I guess Nash is out of his gourd. So the good Dr. Rosen (Christopher Plummer) has to figure out how to solve a problem like John Nash. At first it seemed like the shock treatment was working on Nash, but sure enough, things started getting kooky again. At one point he event attempted to cut out the supposed microchip the government installed into his arm. There was so much blood, you’d think Nash was Gord’s neighbor kid Andy. Even though people told him that his buddies weren’t real, once again they kept popping up, and once again our suspicious savant was becoming unhinged.
All this institute stuff is a real drag, let’s see what’s going on at Greenland. Oh, looks like Freddy got sent to the institute as well. The twentysomething year old Freddy was sent to stay with other abused children so that the harassment can stop and he can defend his life from his fingering father. Meanwhile, Gord is pretty depressed. After his feud with dad, he decides to give up on his animation dream. And even though Betty still has faith in Gord, he insists that dreams are useless, so like his drawings, she should give up on her weird science project.
Just like Gord fighting with his little rocketeer girlfriend, Nash starts to fight with his worried wife. Alicia has nearly had enough when she saw her baby crying hard as babe could cry and she didn’t know what to do. With nobody there to spin the baby around like a helicopter, mom was worried. Her hallucinating hubby claimed that the baby was safe because he left Charles with him, so Alicia finally snapped. She insisted that Charles isn’t real and that he’s just a vision and that there’s no proof of life. After threatening to send John back to the hospital so that he can get that boy erased from his memory, John had an epiphany about his imaginary friends, Marcee in particular. Without the help of tons of makeup and latex, the little Marcee never seems to get old as the years go by. Thanks to this breakthrough, Nash is determined to leave the miserables land of make believe and finally go back to normal.
Hoping to get back to normal as well, Gord has stopped trying to be an animator and has instead gone back to doing regular things like putting clothes on backwards and scuba diving in the toilet. However, one day he was watching TV and saw Betty on the news because she had successfully made her rocket wheelchair. Take that, Apollo 13. That sight of accomplishment let Gord believe that something extraordinary is possible so he drove back to Los Angeles, thankfully this time without witnessing the killing of a sacred deer. Hot on Gord’s tale though was his deranged dad. And just as Gord once again gave his animation pitch to boss Davidson, his old man blasts into the room and as usual, starts yelling and fighting with his crazy kid. Feeling like he was a crowd member at fight club, Davidson was impressed by the demented display, so he signed a check for $1 million and greenlit Gord’s goofy idea.
Despite a couple hiccups here and there, Nash is slowly getting back on track as well. Our medicated mathematician decided to head back to Princeton in hopes to return to his normal lifestyle. Though the annoying apparitions keep popping up from time to time, like The Mummy and Winter’s Tale, he manages to put them in the corner and pretend they never existed. Years had passed and Nash’s face is about to fall off. And thanks to his truly original idea from earlier, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, which also came with a check for $1 million. Little did he know that all he had to do was draw some zebras and hump some salamis and he could have made that same amount.
Meanwhile, our other millionaire has some ideas of his own. First Gord does the obvious thing and rents a helicopter to land at Betty’s hospital so he can apologize to her. And then has to make things right with his father, so he does the next obvious thing and sedates his dad while he hires some construction guys to take them and their entire house and move it to the far side of the world. When the revived father realizes that he’s alone in Pakistan with his psycho son, far and away from his home in Oregon, he’s not that pleased. However, all it took was for Gord to splash his dad with elephant semen for his father to be proud of him. The two embrace and after a quick little run in with some terrorists and some ransom demands, the father and son return home to such a large cheering crowd, you’d think they too had won the Nobel Prize.
In the end, these two films do have a lot in common. They both follow two men with great ambitions. They both involved two men who aren’t quite right in the head. One film is about parenthood, the other is directed by the guy who made Parenthood. One film has a lot of Happy Days, the other has a lot of Happy Endings. One film is about a brilliant mathematician, the other is made by a man some claim was a brilliant filmmaker who duped a major studio into making a disastrous film. I was dreading having to watch these two films together, and after watching them, I’m terrified, mortified, petrified, and stupefied by what I’ve seen.