Biting umbilical cords, pleasuring large beasts of burden, caning a woman in a wheelchair, chuckling at child abuse... Does Tom Green's directorial debut, Freddy Got Fingered, go too far? While Variety calls the film "very possibly the fitting end of the gross-out comedy cycle," Green argues that by pushing the limits, he's actually poking fun at the genre itself.
Musing on a scene that finds him cutting a newborn's umbilical cord with his teeth, Mr. Drew Barrymore offers: "I personally feel like I'm mocking gross-out comedy because it gets so gross, and then all of a sudden you're happy and everything's fine. People scream, cover their eyes, hide behind their knees, and then the calm comes and they start to laugh when it all works well in the end. I like that aftershock laugh if they haven't walked out of the theater by then."
Some moviegoers may be spurred to do just that after sampling the violence between Green's character Gord and his father (Rip Torn), not to mention the sexual fetishism of Gord's paraplegic girlfriend, Betty (Marisa Coughlan). "It's certainly an absurd movie," admits the one-time host of MTV's The Tom Green Show. "[But] there's far less of a focus on domestic violence than in a movie like War of the Roses, where it's two people actually killing each other."
And what of the inevitable protests by activists for the disabled? The actor-comic feels Freddy, which opens Friday, is "empowering to handicapped people because it doesn't make a big issue out of it. Here's a girl who's a sexually aggressive young woman, who knows what she wants to do with her life. It's not like I'm coming in and taking advantage of a poor little crippled girl she's kind of taking advantage of me."
Is there any taboo Green won't break? "There are lots of things that aren't funny," he says. "I don't think there's anything in this movie that is mean, which is my personal line." And despite scathing reviews, he's fairly confident that his intended audience will sit through the whole movie and enjoy it. "I feel really proud [when audience members leave the theater] because there's really a very limited amount of people who would walk out. I think what makes the movie funnier for people is to be able to watch others walk out and say, 'I know somebody like that who would walk out, too.'"