Sensory bombardment is a form of torture commonly used on prisoners to extract information. Authorities strip prisoners down to their underwear , chain them to a wall, and subject them to the same song at full volume for days—sometimes even weeks. By the 24th hour of "...Baby One More Time," brain and body functions start to slip away, melting the senses into a puddle of nothingness.
Guy Montgomery and Tim Batt probably understand this idea very well. Every Monday, the two New Zealanders wake up at 9 AM to watch the Adam Sandler ensemble comedy Grown Ups 2. They've done this every week. For 47 weeks. After each viewing, they talk about the experience on a podcast, appropriately entitled The Worst Idea of All Time. They need to see the movie five more times to hit their goal of watching it every week for a year.
When the duo started the project a year ago, they shared a healthy but reasonable dislike for the critically panned movie. But over the last few months, they learned to hate the movie, while also losing their minds. What started out as 30-minute long discussions about the film's comedic pitfalls and plot holes turned into extended bouts of maniacal laughter, existential reflections, and self-loathing.
I recently caught up with Montgomery and Batt to discuss why two people would voluntarily watch an Adam Sandler movie 52 times.
VICE: Why did you choose this movie?
Tim Batt: That's a good question. We thought of the concept first—of the ludicrousness of watching a single movie and reviewing it over and over again—and then decided on what the movie would be. We kicked around a few ideas early on. One of the ones we floated originally was Con Air, but we decided it was too good. I briefly toyed with the idea of The Room, but that's so bad that it's enjoyable. Then we thought of the Grown Ups movie because it's such a weird movie. So many funny people are in it, but it wasn't very well received.
Guy Montgomery: We thought, Well, if we're gonna do a movie that shouldn't have been made, wouldn't it make more sense to do a sequel to that movie?
Batt: Neither of us has seen the first.
Would watching the characters' origin story help you appreciate the sequel?
Batt: I posited to Guy that maybe Grown Ups 2 is the funniest movie ever made but it's all callbacks to the original—though I don't think that's all that likely.
Montgomery: Grown Ups 1 is now the movie that we crave. You're watching the movie—and this is kind of the definition of insanity—but you're waiting for one of the actors to say a different line or someone else to walk into a scene or just some variation.
What effect does watching the same movie 52 times have on your brain?
Batt: The first effect I've noticed recently is that I find it impossible to watch what is in the focus of the shot now. I can't draw my attention to what the filmmakers designed me to be looking at. I'm looking at extras, I'm looking at a product that's been placed on the table. Even if I try now, I can't look at the main action. I've seen it too many times, and my mind simply can't take it, so I look at the peripheral.
Montgomery: It's given me quite intense mood swings. I'll fluctuate wildly between watching a joke they've written, and five minutes later, I'll be in the pits of despair. We've been doing this weird roleplaying where we are the film producers. We maintained character for an hour and then I just snapped.
On the podcast, you've often expressed concern about going legitimately insane. Do you think that could happen?
Montgomery: It certainly gives us access to insanity and flashes of it. Every occasional watch, the whole concept and project come crashing down, and you're like, "What the fuck are we doing?"
How does it feel to know you've seen this movie more than anyone involved in making it probably did?
Montgomery: That feels fucking fantastic, Dan Ozzi!
Batt: I feel so honored to be one half of the world record–breaking people.
Montgomery: I don't envision anyone breaking this world record that we've set. I think it's safe.
If you could go back and talk to yourselves before you first saw Grown Ups 2 , what would you say?
Montgomery: I would say, "Guy, before you do this, what do you really think about Tim Batt? Because you are going to spend a lot of time with this guy in a really weird way."
Batt: I don't think I'd tell him anything. I think the funniest thing to do in that situation would be to tell him nothing, because there've been some real moments of psychological, almost philosophical pain for me watching.
Do you wonder what you could have achieved if you had put your time and efforts into a more useful activity?
Montgomery: I've spent 42 weeks running from that thought.
Batt: Here's the irony of that: Our total downloads since we've started are approaching around the 200,000 mark. I totally accept that we spend a lot of time doing the podcast and that's a fucking stupid way to spend three hours, but it's probably gained more notoriety than any other thing I've ever done in my life.
What's the movie for season two?
Batt: There is no season two.
Montgomery: We've got a fanbase now, so it'd be stupid to throw it away.
Batt: But that's why we must!
Montgomery: There's got to be some sort of podcast.
Batt: You're doing it on your own, buddy. I want to burn it to the ground.
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