Take This Awesome Job and Show It
Tim and Eric, Tackling big screens and small
In small but vocal circles, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim are already much-loved for Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, a live-action sketch show that aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. With their feature film debut, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie, one wonders if the two could want for anything more. "A movie with our name on it that we starred in and wrote and directed? We just want to retire – professional retirement," says Wareheim, then reconsiders. "No, we want to make a trillion-dollar movie. Or a million-dollar movie."
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie – co-written, co-directed, and starring the titular Tim and Eric – chronicles the quixotic journey of two Hollywood douchebags to their careers as small-town mall managers. The film resurrects characters from their sketch show and shares the same silly sensibility but notably, it pushes past the limits of their TV work. "We weren't censored like we were on Adult Swim in terms of nudity and cursing and content," says Wareheim. "So we sort of put everything in the movie. We made it over-the-top."
The film also diverges in structure, following (albeit loosely) a single narrative with only a few breaks to poke fun at film and script conventions. "We had to figure out a way to change the pace of things and the story," says Heidecker. This more traditional structure could help introduce newcomers to the Tim and Eric franchise who might otherwise find their brand of comedy a bit jarring. It'll be good practice, as there's likely more of the pair just around the bend. "We have a new TV show in the works that isn't a sketch show, which is a new challenge," says Wareheim. "We already wrote the script; we're just shopping it around."
Though the film opens in Austin this Friday, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie is already available for rent on Amazon and iTunes, where it was posted directly following its premiere at Sundance. "It's not going to have a wide release. It's going to appear in some of the big cities, maybe 25. Reality for most people is, it isn't coming to a theatre near you. Online will be the only way to see it," says Heidecker. "But our fans are very savvy and connected to our world and comfortable with that. And I think a lot of people are still going to see it the old-fashioned way."
Tim and Eric do have a loyal digital following. They're marketing their film online through the "Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie Pledge," which appeared on Funny or Die and their YouTube channel. The pledge asks fans to film themselves signing a contract to see Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie with at least one family member or close friend while concurrently boycotting the big-budget Dr. Seuss adaptation The Lorax. Fans send in their footage, which is then posted to the Tim and Eric YouTube channel. Along with some 200 fan videos to date, Tim and Eric received pledges from comedians like Paul Rudd, Weird Al, Chris Kattan, Paul Scheer, and Ben Stiller. Following in the footsteps of fellow digital-savvy comedian Louis C.K., Wareheim and Heidecker also hosted a Reddit IAmA where fans could chat with the comedians real-time, and they just released a free game for iDevices called Tetnis, which includes film-related jokes and images.
So far, the film's early online release hasn't affected the tour's screenings; it's been playing to packed houses. During the Q&A at Austin's sneak preview at the Alamo Drafthouse in February, a fan asked the duo:
"Are you the two luckiest white boys on the planet?"
Wareheim answered, "We made a film from our hearts. No one fucked with it. And for that, we are very lucky."
Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie opens in Austin this Friday. See Film Listings for review.