TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE written and directed by Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, with Heidecker, Wareheim, John C. Reilly, Twink Caplan and Robert Loggia. A Magnolia Pictures release. 93 minutes. Opens Friday (March 2). For venues and times, see Movies.
Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim know exactly what they're doing. It's just that what they're doing is difficult to explain.
They specialize in spectacularly awkward comedy, as evidenced by their late-night sketch show Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, which found a rabid cult audience on cable and DVD. (Just plug "Dr. Steve Brule" into YouTube and see what comes up.)
Now they're bringing their grotesque sensibility onto the big screen with Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, a feature film that finds their alter egos trying to resuscitate a decrepit shopping mall after squandering a billion dollars on an unreleasable vanity project.
Believe it or not, it's the most accessible thing they've done.
"We didn't use any characters from the show," explains Heidecker over the phone. "We didn't want this to be just a fan film. We wanted you to be able to come in not having seen [the show] before and find it your own way."
Followers of the show will immediately recognize their heroes' distinctive blend of incompetence and demented enthusiasm, though.
"A lot of our characters are based on the idea of a guy trying to get ahead and succeed without the proper skills or resources," Wareheim laughs, "but still having that drive to be successful or popular or entertaining or loved."
"We have to have a foundation of lovability," Heidecker says. "Otherwise, we couldn't get away with doing all the things we do. You'd just kinda bail on the premise. You kind of root for Tim and Eric even though what they're doing might be completely inappropriate or immoral."
Like, say, nearly drowning Zach Galifianakis or getting John C. Reilly to cover himself in pizza slices and fight a wolf.
"You know, not every comedian would work in our movie," says Wareheim. "These guys are willing to go that extra distance."
With the movie finally opening in theatres and a second season of their Awesome Show spinoff Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule set to air, Heidecker and Wareheim are thinking about what to do next.
"We're gonna start coming up with ideas for other movies," Wareheim says. "If it's a sequel - you know, Tim & Eric's Trillion Dollar Movie, or Tim & Eric's Hoagie Shop or whatever the idea is - we'll try to do it in the same way that we did this movie: keep the budget low and make it with our friends. It's a good pace for a couple of 36-year-old men. We'll just keep trying to make stuff."