Line One: Hollywood

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Hollywood is worried. Ever since "There's Something About Mary," in which Cameron Diaz styled her hair with some man-made gel, the "gross-out" comedy has been a staple for Hollywood. Small budgets, inexpensive stars, big profit margins. "Mary" gave birth to "American Pie" and "Road Trip," among others. The problem is, ever since "Dude, Where's My Car?" rode successfully into theaters last year, the genre seems to have run out of gas. Last month "Tomcats" — in which one character accidentally ate a surgically removed cancerous testicle — bombed on its opening weekend despite a rigorous marketing campaign. "No Pop in Zit Pix," hollered a headline in Variety, which declared that teen movies were no longer clicking with their intended audience.

Maybe the movies were just bad. Maybe the R-rated offerings from the genre are at a disadvantage, now that theater owners are more careful about keeping under-17-year-olds out. Maybe the teen audience just can't be shocked anymore. This weekend, you'll find Hollywood watching very closely the opening returns on "Freddy Got Fingered," starring Tom Green, the guy who shot to stardom doing sophomoric Dada comedy on his eponymous MTV show and who may or may not be married to Drew Barrymore. (He's been known to say they are married when they really aren't, though now they probably are.) In "Freddy Got Fingered," which Green cowrote and directed, he masturbates an elephant. Green skins a deer lying dead on the road and runs around screaming in the bloody hide. Green delivers a baby, cuts the umbilical cord with his teeth, swings the baby around with it and then tapes what's left of the cord to his own navel.

Studios are hoping that Green has shock value and that "Freddy Got Fingered" (the title refers to an alleged incident of father-son incest) revives the gross-out genre. Besides sequels to such gross-out hits as "Scary Movie" and "American Pie" already in production, many more such films — cheapies geared toward young male audiences — have already been rushed into production because of the impending strikes by writers and actors. (Studios are hoping to finish as many movies as possible in case production shuts down in July.) If Green bombs this weekend, you'll hear no small amount of nail-biting in Hollywood. If it's a hit, you'll hear a sigh of relief. One thing you won't hear is "Freddy Got Fingered" among the list of Oscar nominees next March. Although if Hollywood really wanted to shock us, that would be a surefire tactic.