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This Week in Film: Disaster Movie

Written by: Mike Caccioppoli, Feature Film Critic

The purveyors of the all-purpose spoof movie are out of ideas. Let's retire this "genre."

ImageI chuckled a bit while watching Disaster Movie, I even laughed out loud a couple of times, but as one young dude said as he exited the theater, “I’m glad we didn’t have to pay for that,” and that seems about right to me. The guys behind Scary Movie, Epic Movie, and so on and so forth are just about out of ideas and it shows. Since their new film is called Disaster Movie we would expect that they would be parodying movies in that genre. The problem is that there really aren’t many disaster films made anymore, so what we get is a general skewering of movies from Indiana Jones to Batman to Night at the Museum. Why this film is called Disaster Movie is anyone’s guess.

The only disasters in the film are the catastrophic events that propel the characters into a string of clumsily put together segments that bind the film. As they run through the city they meet characters from various films that the filmmakers have fun making fun of. Ike Barinholtz plays many of them including Batman, Hellboy and Javier Bardem’s character from No Country for Old Men. The writer/director team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer don’t limit their comedy to fictional characters as they also poke fun at celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

The humor in this kind of film is really all about volume following the idea that if you throw enough at the screen some of it will stick. The ratio in Disaster Movie however is considerably less than fifty percent, in fact I’d probably put it at about twenty percent. Yes there are some funny moments, such as when the lead character Will (Matt Lanter) is addressed as “The dude that killed Star Wars.” Lanter is the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the Clone Wars series. Kudos also goes to Crista Flanagan who plays Juney, a take off on the girl in Juno. Flanagan is pitch perfect mimicking that characters annoyingly hip way of talking and peculiar body language.

Most of Disaster Movie however consists of lazy, extremely broad humor where the film mocks targets that are way too easy. The problem is that most of its celebrity targets such as Dr. Phil, Flava-Flav and its movie parodies such as Indiana Jones and 300 have already been raked over the coals several times before. They also have the habit of taking a joke and extending it the point where it’s not funny anymore such as when a high school musical parody goes on for so long that any humor is lost. You really know that these guys have run out of good ideas for humor when they resort to several scenes that rely on human excrement and bodily functions in order to supply laughs. Maybe the fact that they couldn’t even find examples of movies in their title genre should be a hint that these guys should retire the Movie series and look elsewhere for some fresh material.

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