‘Disaster Movie’ lives up to its name
August 28, 2008
Well, I’ll say this much for the guys who made “Disaster Movie”: They were able to squeeze in some of the big blockbusters of this summer (and here it is, not even over yet) plus a few past faves to lampoon, all in one convenient movie.
Unfortunately, the title describes exactly what it is you’re watching: a real disaster. First off, unless you’ve been leading an active movie life, having seen “Sex and the City,” “Enchantment,” “Hancock,” “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and “Kung Fu Panda,” just to name a slight few, then a lot of this will go over your head – and not in a hip, “we get it” kind of way, either.
The actors are mostly from television, hoping to get a foothold into the movie business. Come to think of it, maybe this film should have been some sort of movie-of-the-week special for network TV, or a cable movie, since this is going to wind up on that medium anyway before summer concludes in a few weeks.
Directed, written and co-produced by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, “Disaster Movie” is yet another in the vein of their teen flicks that have found them a niche in Hollywood. Some of their past rehash efforts include 2007’s “Epic Movie,” 2006’s “Date Movie” and 1996’s “Spy Hard,” which – you guessed it – lampoons James Bond and other spy-oriented franchises. The only movie of theirs worth watching was the original 2000 “Scary Movie,” which, unfortunately, spawned three sequels. Nothing compared, though, with last year’s “Epic Movie,” which made my “10 Worst Movies of 2007” list.
“Disaster Movie,” by the way, doesn’t just make fun of the genre, but also tries to keep our interest by injecting pop culture from both the acting and music worlds, too. The only trouble (OK, there is more, to be honest) is, just like all things topical, the gags are pretty dated. I mean, how many Amy Winehouse-still-in-rehab references can we possibly get? Why not toss in some other “current” jokes, such as Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, or Milli Vanilli lip-syncing?
You’ve got to hand it to the boys, though. When you think about it, they can write off every movie they saw as research for this flick, and can keep their budget small by hiring no-names to cast the movie.
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Nicole Parker (remember her from “MADtv”?) at least gets to stretch her comedic talents, playing a whole host of characters – some good (Enchanted Princess, Jessica Simpson) some OK (Hillary Clinton) and some just kind of surreal (Amy Winehouse).
And Matt Lanter – I almost forgot he was on TV’s “Heroes” and the short-lived television drama “Commander in Chief.” It’s a good thing he has a pretty solid reputation in the world of TV, because he’ll be returning there shortly, if he hasn’t already. So far on the big screen, Lanter voiced Anakin Skywalker in the recent animated feature film “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” He would have been better off lending his voice for this flick, because if moviegoers see him here, he’ll need a head transplant if he wants to get some acting roles in the future.
The one standout is Crista Flanagan, who also is a “MADtv” alum. If she looks vaguely familiar, that’s because she has a small role as Lois Sadler on the hit AMC drama “Mad Men.” She turns in a funny performance here as both Juno (from the movie of the same name) and Hannah Montana.
The plotline is pretty predictable, once our actors are caught in one Armageddon scenario after another, meeting all sorts of iconic characters on their journey. The drag scene from “Sex and the City” still freaks me out – it wasn’t very funny, just visually scary.
I imagine the movie will do OK, if anything, just as a summer wrap-up, showing us how successful movies are made.
Better to wait until the DVD comes out, because who knows? Maybe we’ll get to see the deleted scenes that were supposed to be eliminated from this showing.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout Northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio, and you can see his film reviews on “Howie’s Late Night Rush” Monday through Friday at midnight on RSN. For past reviews, blogs and audio clips, visit http://www.HowieNave.com.