Philadelphia’s favorite comedy duo, the always polarizing Tim and Eric, graduate to the big screen with their first feature film, Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. The plot revolves around the duo’s attempt to revive a decrepit shopping mall in order to raise money that they owe to the Schlaaang Corporation (headed by Robert Loggia) who fronted them a billion dollars to make a film, which they instead squandered on makeovers. It sounds like a somewhat legitimate plot to a comedy, complete with a cast that includes the likes of Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Zach Galifianakis, but things take wild and inexplicable detours, as is to be expected from the guys responsible for Tim and Eric Awesome Show! Great Job!.
Cinedelphia recently sat down with Eric Wareheim to talk about his new film as well as his Philadelphia-based past.
On Philly’s DIY scene:
I was playing in bands since before college. There’s a church [First Unitarian] right down there and I’ve played a hundred shows there and seen a thousand shows there. Making stuff yourself, screening your own t-shirt, doing your own show, all that stuff went into the early Tim and Eric stuff. We made these DVDs of our shorts and sent them out to everyone and that’s how we got discovered. All that came from the do-it-yourself punk rock scene, I give so much credit to that world; not having money, figuring it out. Now it’s so easy to just send a YouTube link, but back then it took a little more work to make a presentation.
On Temple University:
The only thing Temple taught us was that you have to do things yourself. I love Temple because I met Tim there, but they’re so unsupportive of comedy. We made a lot of videos as protests against our film classes. They asked our senior class to do a presentation on art direction and we were like, “Are you serious?” So we made a video spoofing that idea. We actually got an A on it.
When I was in college here at Temple we would collect instructional videos and share them with friends all over the country. We would laugh at the production values and the comedy and thought that we should do that. And at the time the equipment at Temple was so bad that we used these horrible tape editors that made it look shitty, but we were like “That kind of looks awesome in a way.” We fell in love with that aesthetic. The year we graduated  they got their first computers. Now I’m glad we learned that old school stuff, but it didn’t prepare us for the real world.
We wanted to make movies and we interned with production companies in L.A. and were disillusioned by how long it would take to become a director. So we moved back to Philly and got real jobs and tried it a different way.
On the film:
We came off of doing a sketch comedy show and then did three short films for Funny or Die, the HBO series. They were 15 minute shorts that had beginnings, middles, and ends. So that was our inspiration to write a feature. We knew we didn’t want it to be a sketch movie, we love movies so we wanted to make something that has a slightly more traditional structure. But we knew going in that anything we do is going to feel a little different than that.
We wanted the movie experience to be that anyone could go and see it and not rely on our past [work]. The ultimate goal is to please both our fans and new people at the same time.
We gave it to the MPAA and we were thinking that we’d have to cut a couple things to get an R and they sent it back with an R and we were like “Holy shit, that’s crazy!” I think that they thought the stuff was just childish and playful rather than offensive. We were lucky.
On the future:
We wanna make the next Tim and Eric movie whether it’s a sequel, prequel, something in the same vein as this. We have another new Tim and Eric TV show in development, a new thing that we’re shopping around. And we have six episodes of Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, our spinoff show with John C. Reilly coming out in March.
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie opens this Friday at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.