by Mel Valentin
If there’s a circle in Dante’s Inferno for filmmakers, then spots have been already reserved for Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. What’s that you say? You don’t know who Friedberg and Seltzer are? Actually, you do. They’re the anti-geniuses who’ve given less discerning audiences a series of increasingly lame spoofs, beginning with "Scary Movie" eight years ago, "Date Movie" two years ago, "Epic Movie" last year, and the "300" spoof "Meet the Spartans" just earlier this year. Now they’re back with their latest spoof, "Disaster Movie," a loosely structured series of anti-gags and anti-jokes and lazy film and pop culture references that will hopefully put an end to Friedberg and Seltzer’s careers as Hollywood bottom-scrapers.Lazy and as unimaginative as ever Friedberg and Seltzer “borrow” plot points for Disaster Movie from last year’s Cloverfield and Armageddon, Deep Impact (both released ten years ago), and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. From Cloverfield, they borrow a sparring twenty-something couple, Will (Matt Lanter) and Amy (Vanessa Minnillo), a super-duper sweet sixteen birthday party (his), Will’s best friend and token African American character, Calvin (Gary 'G Thang' Johnson), and Calvin’s girlfriend, Lisa (Kimberly Kardashian). Will, plagued by dreams of an impending apocalypse (with nonsensical references to 10,000 B.C. and singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, sporting fangs and a penchant for hard alcohol), refuses to commit to his girlfriend. Naturally, Amy (his girlfriend, not the singer-songwriter) leaves Will for an underwear model (Nick Steele). Amy takes off after a spat at Will’s birthday party. We get a wrestling scene involving the ubiquitous Carmen Elektra and Kim Kardashian, a Wanted riff, followed by earthquakes and meteorites to kick the storyline into gear.
"Even worse than anyone can possibly imagine."
Minus Lisa and plus a pregnant Juno clone, Juney (Crista Flanagan), Will decides to find Amy. Along with Calvin, Juney, and, later, an emotional unstable, high-pitch voiced “Enchanted” Princess (Nicole Parker), they dodge falling meteors, twisters (as in the not-so-recent Twister released twelve years ago), flying cows, traffic jams extending half a block (the low production budget didn’t allow for more cars or extras), random encounters with characters cribbed from summer blockbusters (e.g., Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Hancock, Sex and the City, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, The Dark Knight), a warehouse occupied by Alvin and the Chipmunk puppets into death metal, and well, not much else until we get to the egregiously tedious scene set inside a natural history museum (referencing Night at the Museum, in case you were wondering) and, to finally reach the end credits, the anti-climactic climax set inside an Indiana-Jones inspired temple where, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull-style, Will and Amy have to return the crystal skull to its rightful place on an altar and thus save the world.
True to the title, Disaster Movie is a truly disastrous moviegoing experience. It’s soulless, joyless, and humorless, a deeply cynical attempt to separate moviegoers from their hard-earned money so they can sit through 80 minutes of “spot the obvious movie reference.” The sight gags are few and far between, and when they finally make it onscreen, they invariably fail. Friedberg and Seltzer are poor excuses for comedy writers. They have no idea how to put together a joke that works (here’s a hint: setup and payoff with an expectation-subverting twist) and just assume that audiences will feel “smart” for spotting the steady stream of references culled from films long past their sell-by date, movie trailers everyone’s seen dozens of times, painfully outdated pop culture references (e.g., Amy Winehouse, Jessica Simpson, Miley Cyrus, Dr. Phil, Flava-Flav, and even Michael Jackson), or when the running time looks like it’s going to fall below 80 minutes, a (Step Up 2 the Streets-style dance-off between rival groups.Friedberg and Seltzer aren’t hacks (if they were, they'd be, at minimum, competent). They’re worse, far worse than the usual hacks currently working in Hollywood. There’s not even a name or word to describe how utterly talentless are or how cynical their attempts at filmmaking really are. They could have learned a lot by simply watching and re-watching "Airplane" or "The Naked Gun," but that’s more effort than Friedberg or Seltzer probably wanted to put into "Disaster Movie." If only Friedberg and Seltzer could be sued for malpractice, then maybe they’d stop making films. They won’t, of course, at least not until audiences stop paying to see their shoddy, lazy attempts at filmmaking. Stopping Friedberg and Seltzer from getting near a movie camera will come with a bonus: the end to Carmen Elektra’s movie “career” (talk about a star-f*cker well past her fifteen minutes of fame).
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originally posted: 09/09/08 01:45:48