The following is a reprint of our review from Sundance.
The comedy style that Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have perfected over five years on their completely bizarre Cartoon Network sketch comedy series "Tim and Eric, Awesome Show Great Job!" goes something like this: they dress up in funny outfits, get a bunch of celebrities (including Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Ted Danson, and Zach Galifianakis) to do the same, layer on screechy or slurpy sound effects, liberally punctuate with lots of screaming or crying, round out the cast with actors that look like they're either homeless or have been rescued from an insane asylum, and edit the entire thing like it's from some psychedelic version of a 1980s cable access channel. One of the assets of the show was that the episodes were only fifteen minutes long, so if you were disturbed, by, say, Will Ferrell playing a man named Donald Mahanahan who owns a Child Clown Outlet ("I'm a clown breeder, it's in my blood, it's in my balls!"), you at the very least knew it would be over soon. With "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie," a feature-length continuation of the television series, there is no escape. Make no mistake, it's endlessly weird (occasionally to an off-putting degree), but its adherence to some narrative conventions, coupled with its gentle surrealism, especially on a larger scale, allows it to come across as oddly charming.
One of the stranger aspects of "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie," which is saying something, is how closely it resembles, at least in the loosest plot sense, the rejected Frank Oz Muppets movie, "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever." In that film, our favorite Jim Henson characters make a hugely expensive title sequence and then run out of money to finish the rest of the movie, making it on the fly, stealing locations and whatnot. In 'Billion Dollar Movie,' Tim and Eric are given a billion dollars by an evil industrialist (Robert Loggia, looking so old you wonder if he even knows what movie he's in) and then they blow it on one scene involving a Johnny Depp lookalike, a suit made of diamonds, and an extensive personal make-over, which leaves them looking like castoffs from the "Jersey Shore" audition process.
Once they get to the mall, they're introduced to Ferrell, who makes them watch "Top Gun" repeatedly, before introducing them to his son, Taquito (John C. Reilly, in a fairly substantial role), who's a kind of mongoloid man-child who lives in the destitute mall and keeps watch for the mall's most dangerous resident: a wolf. Ferrell takes off, leaving Tim and Eric in charge of the S'wallow Valley Mall. And that's pretty much all the plot there is, which is already considerably more plot than ever appeared on the television show.
Instead, they work on establishing characters within the mall, like Will Forte's unhinged sword salesman Allen Bishopman, as well as developing a love triangle with another vendor (Twink Caplan) and, of course, looking for that damn wolf. While they have restrained their style somewhat, they still manage to cut away occasionally to slyly subversive segments where a pair of actors (again: they look like they're fresh from the men's shelter) explain what is happening, thematically, in the movie. There's also a New Age gift shop in the mall run by Leland Palmer himself, Ray Wise, which promises spiritual enlightenment through something called "Shrim" that is too good (and gross) to give away here. And prior to the movie actually starting, we're given a good five minutes of phony ads and a cameo by Jeff Goldblum, explaining the kind of newfangled torture chair you'll be sitting in to enjoy "Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie." They might have frontloaded the movie with that stuff to weed out the wimps who couldn't handle this level of profound weirdness. But if you can stick it out, you'll be happy you did.