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EPIC MOVIE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jayma Mays, Faune Chambers, Crispin Glover, Tony Cox, Hector Jimenez, Fred Willard
Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: May 22, 2007

“This crystal will finally put an end to the resistance. I will start a series of earthquakes that will collapse all of Gnarnia and grow a new continent, where only I and my followers will live.”

“Yo, Bitch, that’s pretty much the plot of Superman Returns.”

Film ½*

You’ll recall last year the release of, how shall I put this, an attempted comedy spoof called Date Movie. It seemed like a harmless little addition to the spoof genre, but not only did it give spoof movies a bad name, it was one of the worst films the genre ever had to offer. My mentor, Mike J, said it best in his review, “There were more laughs in Munich.”

But unfortunately for us the film was something of a box office hit, despite not a single film goer admitting to liking it or clamoring for any kind of follow up, meaning that the same filmmakers were instantly given a go for another spoof movie. The result was Epic Movie, which would send up the countless epic films of the last several years, i.e. The Chronicles of Narnia, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies. The films in that genre seemed appropriate for spoofing.

What I can tell you is that Epic Movie is a tad bit better than Date Movie, but that’s not saying much at all. In fact, what that means is that Epic Movie is stupefyingly awful, and it illustrates tremendously that the writing and directing team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (the proudly dubbed 2 of the 6 writers of Scary Movie) should be stripped of their filmmaking privileges permanently. What I’m more amazed by is the fact that the mind-numbing awfulness of Date Movie didn’t already cause that penalty to be executed.

The problem with Epic Movie is that, despite a few scenes where there are laughs to be had, the filmmakers have no concept of the process of comedic set ups and gags. Timing is a huge factor in making an audience laugh, and that’s one thing this movie is missing completely. And I question if the filmmakers even know how to correctly spoof movies, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t consist of taking the exact line of dialogue from Snakes on a Plane (you know which line I mean) and having it said once more.

Even spoofs need something of a structure to hold the jokes together. That’s something that the Scary Movie franchise doesn’t seem to have a problem with. Take Scary Movie 4, for example, which was able to hold its many laughs together by linking the plots of War of the Worlds and The Village, which to me is genius. And while Epic Movie does devote most of its spoofing to the plot The Chronicles of Narnia, many so-called jabs at other movies come in out of nowhere at the most awkward time and appear to be in the screenplay just for the sake of spoofing, meaning that this movie has the worst case of laugh desperation I’ve ever seen.

But the one thing that really damages any chances of achievement for Epic Movie is the line up of movies that are spoofed. Yes, the film appropriately takes jabs at suitable choices like Harry Potter and Narnia, and there’s even a scene spoofing X-Men that did make me laugh and gave me hope that the rest of the movie wouldn’t fall flat on its face afterwards. But why in the name of Charles Xavier do the rest of the items on the spoof menu include the following: Nacho Libre, Snakes on a Plane, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, Click and Borat? Um, do those titles really fall under the category of an “epic movie”? It reminded me of the mistake made in Date Movie when the likes of Kill Bill, Napoleon Dynamite and Mr. and Mrs. Smith were lampooned. Were they anywhere near the title of ROMANTIC COMEDY???

And as if that wasn’t enough, the movie has the audacity to include jabs at the TV shows Punk’d and Cribs, Kanye West’s famous comment on President Bush, and a scene in which Paris Hilton just says, “I’m so hot”. And several other films that were clearly pitch perfect ideas for spoofing end up being simply dreadful. The first is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where a bizarre scene all of a sudden becomes a dance number for Fergie’s “Fergalicious”. The second is a scene from Superman Returns, which turns out to be one of the more pointless and poorly timed gags in the film.

But the most wasted opportunity is the spoofing of Pirates of the Caribbean. It starts out brilliantly as Darrell Hammond does a dead on riff of the Johnny Depp character, this time known as Jack Swallows. But then the moment is ruined by one of the most uninspired comedic musical numbers ever conceived.

And as for the cast, I can’t say much about them. With the exception of Jayma Mays (who you may recognize from Red Eye), who plays a perfect ditz, the rest of the actors seem to walk about and embrace their so-called funny lines as if it was actually funny. And in case you didn’t know that Kal Penn played Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, don’t worry because the movie has a couple of attempted jokes to remind us that he was. Most of the cast members of Date Movie are back, including Adam Campbell, who gives a second straight awful performance in a spoof movie.

While we’re on the subject of actors who were in Date Movie, didn’t Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge and Tony Cox learn anything the first time? What had them wanting to participate in this movie? Do they actually believe the filmmakers created funny material once more? I mean, if Fred Willard can’t even garner a chuckle in a spoof movie, something is terribly wrong. What’s more, he looks god awful in what is apparently an attempt to spoof on the character of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia.

It’s a good thing that we have the Scary Movie franchise to remind us that all is not dead with the movie spoof genre. Then again, David Zucker and his team actually know how to make the material, oh what’s the word? Oh yeah, FUNNY. But if the general public has to be subjected to another yearly-alleged attempt at comedy from the makers of Date Movie and Epic Movie, the genre will soon be buried in the ground.

Video ***1/2

This release from Fox delivers a most acceptable picture. The anamorphic picture is frequently alive with a bright, crisp image and lively use of colors. No bad or distracting image flaws detected whatsoever!

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 mix is quite energetic, with plenty of music and physical pratfalls to add to the presentation. Even though it’s serving the purpose of a cinematic travesty, the audio presentation does deliver better than you would expect.

Features ****

The sad truth is this travesty of a movie happens to have a lot going for it in the extras department. On this Unrated release, there is a commentary track with writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, as well as a sound effect track known as “Breaking Wind: An Epic Journey Into the Sounds of an Epic Movie”. Judging by the title, you should know right away what you’re in for. There’s also the “How Gratuitous” feature (could that be referring to the movie itself?), which is a viewing option that offers behind the scenes footage as you watch the movie, in case you care to know how this 93 minute turd was executed.

Also included are numerous featurettes, including “Everyone Loves Beaver: Epic Hook Ups”, “Making the Video: Lazy Pirate Day”, “Epic Porn-What Would Your Porno Be Called?”, “What Makes Aslo So Irresistible?”, “Hot or Not: Character Turn On’s and Turn Off’s”, Two Fox Movie Channel Specials hosted by Fred Willard (how can he be endorsing this????), and Die Libre, a short movie that was the winner of a viral video contest. Lastly, there are outtakes, an alternate ending, and a trailer for Reno 911: Miami.

Summary:

Epic Movie serves as a reminder that movie spoofs can be easily ruined if not in the proper hands. A series of movie spoof scenes without any structure is not a movie, just a painful experience. Do yourself an Epic favor and steer clear of this one!

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