According to my calculations, Tom Green is on minute 11 or 12 of his allotted 15. The latest poster boy for gross-out humor, Green's made a name for himself ' hence, MTV's "The Tom Green Show" ' by snorkeling through America's digestive tract, picking up starfish along the way. Among his many accomplishments: drinking milk directly from a cow's udder, humping a dead moose, eating live worms and marrying Drew Barrymore, the latter a publicist's dream come true since it holds out the possibility that underneath all that guerrilla-comic infantilism is somebody somebody could love. Barrymore's affection elevates Green, suggests that he's more than just this year's Pauly Shore.
But is he? A goateed Allen Funt, Green's at his best when he's out in the world pulling people's legs. (Pulling hard; instead of "Candid Camera," we get "Rancid Camera.") And he was at his very best when he turned a bout of testicular cancer into a special episode of "The Tom Green Show" that featured, among other things, actual footage of his surgery. I'll say this for the guy, he's got balls ' one, anyway. But though he summons up the ghost of Andy Kaufman at such moments, he lacks the maniacal gleam in Kaufman's eye. Literally lacks it. His face has the beatnik placidity of Shaggy on "Scooby-doo." Kaufman was funny both for what he did and how he did it. Green often has to settle for the former.
Freddy Got Fingered is Green's attempt to transfer his act to the big screen. He made a memorable appearance in Road Trip, of course, dangling a mouse by the tail and allowing it to seek refuge in the warm, moist confines of his mouth. And there was that whole Chad thing in Charlie's Angels ' so unfunny it was funny...not! But Freddy Got Fingered, which Green co-wrote, directed and stars in, is the work he wishes to be remembered by, calling it "the stupidest, most disgusting movie you've ever seen." Stupidest? Maybe. Most disgusting? I wish. Not that Green doesn't try, going so far as to stroke a horse's penis ' a real live one ' in his quest for yuks. Yuck.
There's a story amidst all the goo, a rags-to-riches story about a guy who wants to make it as an animator but in the meantime lives with his parents. Dear old dad is played by Rip Torn, who erases all memories of "The Larry Sanders Show" by allowing himself to be sprayed (and I mean sprayed) with elephant sperm. Don't ask how he winds up in that position. Freddy Got Fingered isn't so much plotted as clotted, the gross-outs piling up like placque. Now Green's swinging a newborn baby around a hospital room by its umbilical cord, severing it with his teeth. Now he's giving his wheelchair-bound girlfriend a horniness-inducing whack on the shins. Now he's sticking his head in the toilet.
I like a head-in-the-toilet joke as much as the next guy, but Green doesn't seem to have what it takes to put this kind of stuff over. For one thing, he keeps repeating lines, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Maybe he thinks he's doing anti-comedy, but it seems like non-comedy to me. When he did those outrageous man-on-the-street bits on his TV show, there was a feeling of liberation as we watched Green sail past our sense of propriety. Instead of suspending our disbelief, we wallowed in it. But these aren't real people in Freddy Got Fingered, they're actors, and that leaves Green looking less like a performance artist and more like a comedian, a lousy comedian. I sure hope the guy's having fun, because the clock's ticking.