The 2000s Controversial Infamous Cult Comedy Flop Now Streaming From the Most Prestigious Film Company

By Shanna Mathews-Mendez | Published

Freddy Got Fingered is streaming on the Criterion Channel’s streaming service, and it has me completely perplexed. It isn’t that Tom Green and his brand of comedy doesn’t have its place. It’s just that the film company that professes itself to be an elite, curated home of not necessarily popular films but movies that are especially noteworthy doesn’t seem to be that place. 

The Tom Green Show

Freddy Got Fingered was released in 2001, and it received terrible reviews from both audiences and critics. It is the directorial debut of Tom Green, well known by that time for his over-the-top gross-out humor. The Tom Green show aired on The Comedy Network in Canada for two seasons in 1998 and 1999, before MTV brought it to the United States. By then, those of us around at the time were well aware of Tom Green —- he was virtually everywhere. You couldn’t avoid him. 

In his reality show, Green sucked on a cow’s udder, threw baby bottles at passing cars, and seemingly tortured his parents with his antics. At one point, he woke his parents in the middle of the night by placing a severed cow’s head in their bed. Why would we have expected less from his film? 

Green Directed Freddy Got Fingered

In Freddy Got Fingered, written and directed by Green, we follow his character, Gordon Brody, as he leaves his parents’ house to try to make it as an animator in Hollywood. Right away, viewers who know Green’s story know this film is supposed to be at least somewhat autobiographical. It follows his struggles to get his talent recognized—- except that his talent is not palatable to most of society. 

Somehow It Broke Even

Freddy Got Fingered has “Gord” swinging a baby overhead by the umbilical cord, dating a wheelchair-bound, fellatio-loving nurse, and falsely accusing his father of sexually molesting his brother (the eponymous Freddy). Needless to say, the film received a terrible critical reception, with many well-known critics creating entirely new low ratings for Freddy Got Fingered and advising anyone who will listen strongly against seeing this “most-hated,” “vile,” “disgusting,” “talentless” movie. 

To add insult to injury, Freddy Got Fingered barely broke even at the box office. It made $14.4 million at box offices worldwide against a $14 million budget. 

Part Of The Criterion Collection

Then why is Criterion Channel adding Freddy Got Fingered to its relatively small, curated, special library? Criterion has set itself up as the crème de la crème. The website clarifies that Criterion does not keep popular films or blockbuster movies. Instead, the curators highlight underrated films, excellent directors, standout acting, and brilliant screenwriting. The streaming service even charges more than most other popular streaming services, coming in at $10.99 a month. 

So, what’s happening here? 

A Reason For The Box Office

Well, Freddy Got Fingered has actually done quite well since its original flop. It has earned $24,300,000 in DVD sales, and Green has argued that he believes the box office sales were artificially low. He says kids under 17 are incapable of buying tickets for themselves; instead, they bought tickets for Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles and snuck into seeing Freddy Got Fingered instead. 

Who knows how much of a difference that would have made? 

Now A Comedy Classic

Some critics have come around on Green’s directorial debut, calling it one of the funniest movies that received bad reviews. So, maybe Criterion sees something in Freddy Got Fingered we don’t? I supposed the only way to find out is to head over to the streaming service and check it out for ourselves… or not.