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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Disaster Movie

It would be easy to tell you that Disaster Movie is the biggest disaster of a movie this year, but that wouldn’t be true. That honor still belongs to Speed Racer. No, Disaster Movie isn’t really a disaster at all. The trouble is that it parodies at least two dozen movies that are far bigger disasters than it could ever dream of being and not a one of them were intentionally made to be called a “disaster.”

It’s like my cousin Tammy. She’s never been quite the same since her sisters died, so I shouldn’t pick on her too much, but she is the complete definition of a disaster. She was one of a set of triplets: Tammy, Sammy, and Pammy. Isn’t that precious unto itself? I can’t fault her for that though. That was her mother, Gloria’s, fault. Anyway, one day while Tammy stayed
home to paint TGIF in all her shoes (“Toes Go in First”), her sisters went for a walk in the woods near their home when they stumbled upon some tracks. Pammy insisted they were deer tracks while Sammy said they were moose tracks. They called Tammy on their cell and sent her a picture so she could join in the discussion. Tammy opted for something a little more exotic and suggested they might belong to a giraffe, which would have been more believable if they didn’t live in Muncie, Indiana. That didn’t stop the debate from raging on for another twenty minutes or so as Sammy and Pammy investigated the scene like crack CSIs to figure out what these tracks might be before the train hit and killed both of them. Now that was a disaster. Even today, when the family gathers for a holiday like Thanksgiving, there’s always somebody’s toddler at the table, and if you encourage the little one to eat by thoughtlessly uttering the words “chew, chew” Gloria and Tammy will twitch and burst into tears. God only knows what would happen if they actually saw a train. Or a giraffe.


So, not that it matters much, but Tammy reminds me a lot of Vanessa Minnillo (tv’s “MTV Prom Date”), who, as Amy, is beautiful, a tad potty-mouthed, and a lot like her pet turtle ~ once she is on her back there is no doubt she is totally going to be screwed, which really is the whole point of having her in the movie. She is the traditional “damsel in distress” to be saved by pretty boy Matt Lanter (the voice of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and its’ new tv series), who, like Vanessa, plays several characters in the film. Matt’s main role is that of Will, whose life is broadly mimicking the events of Cloverfield (sans the monster but with asteroids pummeling New York instead). Will and his pal Calvin (G-Thang; tv’s "In Case of Emergency") make their way through the streets while running up against characters from any number of movies; the weight of the movie lies in how well they do in their attempts to ape the films they take aim at. In some cases they succeed terrifically because the actors are spot-on in their interpretations of the characters; in others, not so much.

Nicole Parker (Meet the Spartans) is perfect as the “Princess” from Enchanted, and Crista Flanagan’s (also of Meet the Spartans and “Mad TV”) deadpan delivery as “Juney” aka Juno will have you snorting your Diet Coke out your nose, especially when she and a Michael Cera lookalike (debuting Devin Crittenden) sing their version of The Moldy Peaches’ "Anyone Else But You" from the original movie. At least this version has some laugh-out-loud lyrics.

Other nods to recent movies are a mix of what-have-you, depending on personal tastes in humor: Alvin and the Chipmunks, 28 Weeks Later,
10,000 B.C., The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men, Hellboy 2, Iron Man, Sex and the City, The Incredible Hulk, Speed Racer, Kung Fu Panda, Hancock, Jumpers, Night in the Museum, Beowulf, Prince Caspian, The Love Guru and Superbad all get the spoof treatment. There’s everything from murder to Christmas carols, male nudity to more gay jokes than I could count on both hands tucked in this 90 minute package.

The funniest bit, though, has got to be a prolonged musical number featuring most of the cast as the squeaky clean boys and girls of Disney’s “High School Musical.” They dance and sing with the mindless vibrancy of the originals without seeming to realize that they are singing a peppy anthem that includes references to anal sex and “shi-tay” relationships, all while performing their wonderful bouncy cheerleading choreography. Honestly, these five minutes excuse every other lame joke in the movie.

The inclusion of some “celebrity” impersonations is a real iffy proposition. Their Amy Winehouse is
good but the jokes are the same as every tv show doing Winehouse has done since she came on the scene. Weird stuff crammed in her gi-normous hairdo? Really? On the other hand, the Flava-Flav wannabe (Abe Spigner; Epic Movie) is like a Xerox of the real thing and his cameo is unexpected and funny. There are a handful of others, and most are just wretchedly bad.

The thing to remember is that Disaster Movie is a whole lot better than its predecessors Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, Date Movie, and the Scary Movie franchise written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Well, maybe not a whole lot better, but better. I guess practice does make perfect, so at this rate we have something actually terrific to look forward from them in another decade or so.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but my biggest disappointment is that Disaster Movie doesn’t have an original soundtrack album tie-in because I’d actually buy it. The musical numbers are by far the best moments of this disaster, and I’m sure my cousins would have all of the songs uploaded to their iPods if they could figure out how to get them squeezed inside, if they weren’t already squeezed inside their own boxes somewhere else, you know what I mean?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My biggest gripe with this movie is its blatant, savage misogyny. Sure, a lot of men get knocked about as well, but in all their movies, the sheer nastiness in their jokes towards women is disgusting.