September 4, 2008

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Disaster Movie (PG-13)
Despite the troubling economic indicators, we, as a nation, must be doing OK if enough of us spent $6.9 million last weekend torturing ourselves with Disaster Movie, a painful slog through a series of skits poking fun at a random assortment of pop culture moments from the last year, pieced together in such a way that they sort of make a movie.

Cloverfield, the Godzilla-ish movie from earlier this year, is the over-arching parody target of this movie, the big Russian doll containing a dozen or more little Russian dolls (those being the parodies of other, non-disaster-related movies). In fact, for all the Cloverfield rip-offs and the nods to movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Disaster Movie spends much more of its time riffing on non-disaster movies than on meteor-will-hit-the-Earth or dueling-earthquake-blockbusters movies you think of when you hear the words “disaster movie.”

The, uhm, “plot”: a kid named Will (Matt Lanter) must save his sort-of girlfriend Amy (Vanessa Minnillo) from an unspecified disaster so that he can tell her that he loves her — something he hasn’t been able to say to her thus far. Along the way (and for no apparent reason) we get scatting and be-bopping on Enchanted, Juno, Superbad, High School Musical, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Dark Knight, Speed Racer, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Night at the Museum and The Love Guru (which is itself is something of a disaster movie). This line-up makes me think that the film’s creators just looked at the early release schedule from the summer and the hit movies from last fall, and started renting costumes, figuring that the ideas would come later. Disaster Movie is less a story that unfolds and more a parade of skits. Sure, it gets in a couple of cute digs at Juno and the career of Hayden Christensen and mocks the easy pickings of Amy Winehouse and Jessica Simpson, but there’s nothing else to it, no dressing of comedy bringing this salad of stupidity together. It remains as it likely was at its inception, a random scattering of ideas featuring some combination of the same actors.

I like a good potty joke (no matter how old you get, hearing someone say he wants to “do my duty” is funny) and don’t mind stupid comedy (I enter into evidence Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder). My problem with Disaster Movie isn’t that it’s low comedy; it’s that it’s not funny comedy.

There are too many other things to spend $7 (or more) on that will actually make you laugh; Disaster Movie doesn’t deserve any more of our precious personal wealth. F

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence. Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Disaster Movie is an hour and 30 of the longest minutes of your whole life and is distributed in wide release by Lionsgate Films.