'Orgy of bad taste'
Just how bad is Movie 43, a star-studded comedy that has been savaged by critics around the world?
New Zealanders can find out next Thursday when it is released nationally but one prominent US critic set off an avalanche with his attack on the film as the "Citizen Kane of awful".
The film involves actors including Halle Berry, Emma Stone, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts and Hugh Jackman debasing themselves in 12 sketches.
In one skit, a woman begs her fiance to defaecate on her; in another, a man has testicles hanging from his neck.
Fighting the critical bile and social media ire, the movie's Hollywood writer and director, Peter Farrelly, creator of the hits Something About Mary and Dumb & Dumber, took to the Farrelly brothers' Twitter account to defend his sledged all-star movie.
"To the critics," he wrote, "back off".
"Movie 43 is not the end of the world, it's just a US$6 million movie where we tried to do something different."
He added: "To the critics: You always complain that Hollywood never gives you new stuff, and then when you get it. you flip out. Lighten up."
Too late. Richard Roeper's review in the Chicago Sun-Times had already gone viral.
"Since 1999 I've been carrying a blue pill in my pocket, holding onto it for the moment when I'd truly need it," Roeper wrote.
"The pill, I was told, would instantly erase the memory of any movie - but just the one movie, just the one time ...
"Midway through Movie 43, I knew the day had come. As the credits rolled with the inevitable blooper scenes of actors breaking character and inexplicably laughing when nothing funny is going on, I swallowed that pill, hoping to erase instantly all mental images of what had just transpired. It didn't work . . . Movie 43 is the Citizen Kane of awful."
The New Yorkers' Richard Brody describes the movie as "deadly dull, unfunny, offensive, and stultifyingly clumsy", while Variety's Joe Leydon wrote: "Some movies should be reviewed; others should simply be warned about. Movie 43 is now showing at theatres and drive-ins everywhere. Beware."
In Britain, The Independent's Francesca Steele wrote that Movie 43 was a "ramshackle arrangement of one-joke vignettes ... an orgy of bad taste that feels laboured, plotless and dull". The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw describes the film as "a cameo parade of stars, some of whom have no obvious gift for comedy, try their hardest, but the laughs just aren't there".
Only 4 per cent of reviews on movie rating site Rotten Tomatoes are giving the film a thumb up.
Movie 43 opens in New Zealand on February 7.
Sydney Morning Herald