Green’s “Freddy” flop

If Freddy got fingered, then Tom Green got ignored. Three new movies that rely on gross-out comedy – recently popular with audiences – all but seem to be on the wane. Green‘s self-indulgent Freddy Got Fingered headlined the three, with Joe Dirt and Tomcats lagging far behind.

But Freddy didn’t get fingered as one of the best movies of the year. In fact, not since Ishtar have reviewers been so united on the complete unworthiness of a movie.

“It feels manufactured … [The jokes are] not working.” – Rolling Stone.

Freddy Got Fingered is not a comedy – it’s an act of violence against moviegoers.” – The Associated Press.

“One of the most brutally awful comedies ever to emerge from a major studio.” – Variety.

“It’s not just bad; it’s jaw-dropping, head-pounding, tumor-inducing, apocalypse-summoning bad.” – The Hollywood Reporter.

This is not the first wave of gross-out flicks. Despite Freddy‘s less-than-sterling performance at the box office – it opened in fifth place this past weekend, grossing about $7 million – it probably won’t be the last. But the tide toward these types of one-upmanship in the realm of the ghastly, never-before-seen-ick movies seems to have ebbed.

American Pie (1999) and There’s Something About Mary (1998) each grossed more than $100 million. Last year’s Scary Movie was a big winner, raking in more than $150 million. Green also hit it big last year with Road Trip. But this year’s crop of shock joke movies is falling flatter than any Green joke.

David Spade‘s Freddy-like vehicle, Joe Dirt, opened marginally better than Freddy, in fourth place during the weekend of April 14, bringing in $8.2 million. In the two weeks since then, Joe Dirt has struggled to stay in the top 10, and has only grossed $19 million to date.

Tomcats has fared even worse. Though Tomcats also placed the fourth slot upon release, it only brought in a mere $6.5 million the first weekend and has fallen out of the top 20 after four weeks in release. To date, Tomcats has reached just $13.5 million in ticket sales. It marks an inauspicious debut for Revolution Studios, the new production company headed by ex-Disney chief Joe Roth.

The simple difference is that while flicks like American Pie and Mary actually had a story line that held the jokes together, Freddy has no such concerns. The story: Gord (Green), a failed cartoonist, moves back home and torments his father. The feud – which escalates to the point that the world is threatened by nuclear war – is just so much background noise to Green‘s Idiot Culture antics.

Jokes such as masturbating farm animals and prancing around in road-kill skin seemed designed to do nothing but offend. And audiences beyond 12- to 14-year-old boys are tuning out.

Even a re-tread family movie sequel, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, opened higher than Freddy, placing third with a box office take of $7.7 million. The third installment in the Crocodile Dundee series, this movie relies upon the tried-and-true comedic standard of the fish out of water: a tough croc hunter from the Outback finds himself unnerved by the big city. This surely signals the death-knell of the gross-out flick – for now.

The future of the genre now seems to hinge on sequels to its biggest successes. Scary Movie 2 will open July 4. Hot on its heels will be American Pie 2, coming Aug. 10.

Green is currently working on a movie titled Uncle, co-starring Jason Lee, and plans to start writing a new movie very soon. The punchline : There might not be an audience at all that wants to watch either Green comedy.