Movie 43: Peter Farrelly Talks Pushing Comedy Envelope

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Peter Farrelly has been behind, with his brother Bobby, some of the most popular comedy films of all time. Try thinking of some of his best without uttering Dumb and Dumber quotes or There's Something About Mary quotes!

Peter Farrelly Hugh Jackman Movie 43

Now, he's back with Movie 43 that is sure to inspire quite a few more oft-quoted lines. Farrelly spoke with Movie Fanatic exclusively to talk about his new comedy and the influential film classic that inspired it, Kentucky Fried Movie. "[Movie 43 producer] Charlie Wessler, he’s been talking for years about doing a Kentucky Fried Movie and an Amazon Women (of the Moon) type movie," Farrelly said.

There is a clear difference in those films that compiled comic shorts and the stories teased in the Movie 43 trailer. "Where those movies were written by the Zuckers [David and Jerry] and [Jim] Abrahams, while John Landis directed, this has all different writers, all different directors," Farrelly said. 

Wesller scoured the internet looking to find the funniest work being created today. "We got thousands of submissions and then we cut it down to 16 or 17 and made them with all different directors and a slew of different stars," Farrelly added.

"And because in the last decade, the world’s attention span has shrunk so drastically, you can’t do a movie like Kentucky Fried Movie that goes from short to short to short, because an hour and five minutes in -- people will be looking at their watches saying, 'Do I want to see another short?'"

Farrelly and Wessler avoided that problem by making the comic shorts interwoven. "We have a wrap around and we cut back between the mini-movies that holds it together and keeps you wondering what’s going to happen by the end of this thing," Farrelly said. "I can’t tell you more than that, but the thing is it’s a little bonus that keeps you interested." 

Although making Movie 43 was truly a collaborative process, Farrelly cautioned that it was also quite freeing for all the filmmakers involved.

"It was a little different collaboration-wise because it wasn’t me sitting with them and saying, 'What about this?' First of all, we picked great scripts. And then we hired directors that most of them were up and coming and really admired. We told them, 'Go make this.' And we didn’t say a word. They made it, cut it and gave it to us and then we put it all together," he said. "It was really fun and easy."

Richard Gere Movie 43

Also freeing was the ability for Farrelly and his team to continually work on the film over almost four years. Given the star power in the film -- everyone from Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Gerard Butler -- getting everyone's schedules straight would have been impossible.

"We have so many stars in this. We couldn’t shoot it like a normal movie over 10 or 12 weeks because they’re all not going to be available," Farrelly said. 

"When Charlie would call someone like a Richard Gere, and say, 'Hey Richard, want to do this ballsy movie? It’s really insane!' He’d say, 'I’m busy for a year.' And Charlie would say, 'We could make it work.' We shot for three or four days, shut down for four months and shot another three or four days… we did that over and over for almost four years." 

Given his passion for the project that kept him filming for years, one can imagine the thrill Farrelly has now that the film is arriving January 25. "I’m very happy with it," he said.

Yet, he cautions that reviews are likely to run the gamut as they do for most envelope-pushing movies. 

"It’s going to get about a six on the Rotten Tomatoes meter, just so you know," Farrelly said and laughed. "It’s so unusual and groundbreaking. Critics are not going to get it. But, the thing plays like a rock concert. It’s played better than any movie I’ve ever made. People are going to flip for this thing. It’s outrageous and fun."

Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry Movie 43

Having Movie 43 released into the world also in a way, finds Farrelly coming back to what inspired him to make movies in the first place as a youngster growing up in New England.

"The biggest influence we had movie-wise was the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams, because until we saw Kentucky Fried Movie and we’re back in Rhode Island thinking, 'Holy (expletive), I had no idea you could do this.' That looked like fun. Then, Airplane comes out and it’s so hilarious and you see these guys being interviewed on Letterman and they just seemed so normal," Farrelly said.

"That’s the first moment I realized that we could do that. I remember thinking in my head, 'Maybe we can do that.' It seemed like a long shot, but it seemed possible. If there were no Zuckers, I would never have made it out of Rhode Island."

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Movie 43 Trailer