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SUPERHERO MOVIE

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Kevin Hart, Brent Spiner, Jeffrey Tambor, Robert Joy, Regina Hall, Pamela Anderson, Leslie Nielsen
Director: Craig Mazin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Dimension
Features: See Review
Length: 82 Minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2008

ďNow Iím never gonna know the secret to becoming a superhero.Ē

ďYou wanna know the secret? Come close. (Slaps face) MAKE A COSTUME, SH*THEAD!Ē

Film ***

Spoofing movies used to be something of an art form, but lately this sub-comedy genre has been hammered into the ground thanks to the god-awfully dismal Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. But thereís nothing like the old pros showing up to illustrate how something is done properly. And while Superhero Movie isnít going to reinvent the spoof movie, it delivers gut-busting laughs to the point where faith can be restored in movie spoofs.

Donít let the title confuse you with the low-grade efforts of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Superhero Movie happens to be produced by David Zucker, one of the original kings of the movie spoof. He brought such classics of the genre like Airplane!, Top Secret!, and The Naked Gun. He also helmed Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, which for my money were the funniest entries in that series.

Now even though he only has a producer credit, this movie carries that classic Zucker touch that made all those earlier movies so hilarious. Itís the exact opposite of the Friedberg/Seltzer spoof style, in that isnít just a string of tiring references to other movies with no rhyme or reason. Here we get a spoof movie that establishes its own story, and the jokes just flow out naturally.

As the title indicates, the movie sets its sights on the superhero movie genre. And with the recent string of successful comic book movies, this is probably the absolute best time to make fun of them. Batman, X-Men, Fantastic FourÖno one is safe.

The story itself is an all-around takeoff of the first Spider-Man movie. We follow a likeable high school chum, the cleverly named Rick Riker (Drake Bell), a social outcast with a crush on his next-door neighbor, Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton). While on a science class field trip, Rick is bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly.

As one expects, the movie pokes fun at the way Rick discovers his secret powers emerging. When walking on walls, he unexpectedly works in a break dance. He even manages to save an old lady and her dog from getting hit by a truckÖonly to have them go through a wood chipper instead. After some advice on the secret to becoming a hero, Rick creates a suit and becomes Dragonfly.

Of course, every good hero must face an adversary. And modeled after Norman Osborn/Green Goblin, we have the diabolical Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald), who is actually on the verge of death when he tests himself on a machine that gives him the power to live longer by basically killing someone each day. Landers soon makes a soon of his own and becomes The Hourglass.

Again, what makes the jokes work in this spoof movie is a level of coherence, something of which can be promised with any David Zucker production. The spoof jokes come in at just the right point, and the delivery and execution of the gags are priceless. I donít care how much of a devoted X-Men fan you are, itís impossible not to laugh hard at a scene where Professor Xavier (Tracy Morgan) goes from riding a wheelchair to riding a moving toilet.

And I canít possibly leave out the one scene that made me laugh out loud the most. When Rick remembers to the night his parents died, we get a hysterical jab at the post-opera murder scene in Batman Begins. Itís how the parents buy it here that makes it so amazingly funny!

In all honesty, Iím not giving Superhero Movie a quick pass because itís way better than Epic Movie or Meet the Spartans, because just about anything is better than those movies. Being a longtime fan of the Zucker brand of comedy, it didnít take long to get me laughing at a loud rate. What Superhero Movie illustrates once again is that a spoof movie has the name Zucker attached anywhere; it will be the real deal and not the incredibly sorry productions from a certain pair of amateurs.

Video ***1/2

This is a most terrific looking presentation from Dimension. Being a spoof movie, it clearly isnít going for a distinctive look, since itís mainly parodying countless sequences from Spider-Man, etc. However, the anamorphic picture is very well handled. Image is quite crisp and clear, and colors are showcased in super fine form.

Audio ***

A most serviceable 5.1 mix is delivered to this release. The sound performance delivers terrifically as far as physical comedic sequences and action scenes are concerned. Music playback and dialogue delivery are also extremely well handled.

Features ***

Though not a SUPER level of extras, this Dimension release does feature a good enough amount. We get a Commentary with writer/director Craig Mazin and producers David Zucker and Robert K. Weiss, an Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, two featurettes titled ďMeet The CastĒ and ďThe Art Of SpoofingĒ. Lastly, we get a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

Superhero Movie is in the true classic spoof movie tradition, and thatís all true fans of the genre can ask for at this point. Unlike whatís been offered lately in this genre, here is one that illustrates everything that is to be appreciated about the movie spoof!

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