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20th Century Fox presents
"Lame. That's a seven letter word!"
DVD ReviewI want to say at the outset that I thought a couple of the Scary Movie films were entertaining. Sue me. I like the scattergun Airplane! style of comedy, too, and I appreciate the pop culture randomness of Seth MacFarlane's Family Guy approach to what's funny. I'm not some comedic purist who only chuckles at NPR witticisms or insider political humor. I love dumb funny, and I'd really love nothing more than to tell you that Epic Movie is the friggin' comedy highpoint of the last 50 years of cinema, and that it borders on sheer brilliance.
That would be a huge lie, of course. Because as the latest entry in the "spoof" genre, Epic Movie is a steaming 90 minute pile of meandering excess and unfunny funny, operating under the premise that poop and pee jokes are always a winner, and that simply dressing up like popular movie characters will make bad jokes (or the complete absence of jokes) somehow funny. This unrated cut runs about six or seven minutes longer than the theatrical PG-13 cut, and it's important to remember that a few boob shots and wee bit of stronger language does not a better movie make.
Epic Movie comes from the co-directing team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, and while both served as writers on a few of the Scary Movie titles—and yes, I did often find those funny—they also are to blame for unleashing Date Movie on an unsuspecting populace (Seltzer was director and Friedberg producer). And it's the Date Movie formula that they follow here, mostly forsaking a plot in favor of stringing together tired parodies of mainstream movies and characters like Harry Potter, X-Men, Borat, Willy Wonka, The Chronicles Of Narnia and The Pirates of the Caribbean. There is some vagueness of story—something about four orphans (Jayma Mays, Kai Penn, Adam Campbell, Faune Chambers) uniting to stop the evil White Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge) as part of the film's principle Narnia spoof.
Over the course of 90 very long minutes, Friedberg and Seltzer even resort to using Nacho Libre and Click references, as if somehow those films have the same sort of long lasting pop culture hipness that Willy Wonka or The Pirates of the Caribbean do. That's an insult to popular culture; and trust me when I tell that there are few things worse than a Nacho Libre parody, especially one that goes on a little too long. The obligatory Snakes On A Plane bit with a Samuel L. Jackson look-a-like continually spouting his "I have had it with these motherf***ng snakes on this motherf***ing plane!" over and over at least has the decency to end rather quickly, unlike the overdrawn X-Men and Harry Potter segments that litter the landscape here.
Jayma Hays (Ugly Betty, Heroes) does a variation on the wide-eyed Anna Faris-from-Scary-Movie character for Epic Movie, and she's the one of the few glimmers of watchability as this non-comical mess of an experience unwinds. A strange appearance by the always odd Crispin Glover as Depp's version of Willy Wonka works most of the time on a purely weird level, as does Darrell Hammond's spot-on Depp impression as pirate Captain Jack, even though Hammond is really left to do little more than a swaggering initiation (meaning the jokes fall flat). Fred Willard pulls a few moderate laughs as the Narnia lion (here known as Aslo), but he's one of those guys that has innate ability to make just saying "hello" sound funny. That leaves lots of room for truly dumb stuff, like a talking beaver named Harry and the embarrassment of David Carradine (I mean a body double) break dancing.
It should be a very strong indicator of how confused this movie is about itself when the eyesore cover art features only one of the main characters (Kai Penn).
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: F
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks decent enough, sporting plenty of bright colors and moderately strong black levels. Edge details aren't razor sharp—and there were some noticeable grain and edge enhancement issues in spots—but these were hardly Epic Movie's largest problems.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The principle audio track is in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and while it's not a showcase mix, the presentation is loud and clean. Voices are clear, and the front channels sound fairly wide and spacious. Rear channels get a boost periodically during the musical bits, but this is largely focused on the front channels.
French and Spanish 2.0 surround dubs are also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Reno 911!: Miami
1 Alternate Endings
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Aaron Seltzer, Jason Friedberg
Extras Review: Those who adore self-abuse will appreciate all of the dullard extras here, beginning with a dreadful commentary from directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, in which they spend the entire track doling out nonsensical phony information about what's going on onscreen. Conceptually funny for a minute or two, but utterly pointless for 90 minutes. A second semi-commentary is Breaking Wind: An Epic Journey Into The Sounds Of Epic Movie, where fart sounds are added to theoretically enhance the unfunny movie. Doesn't work.
A branching option called How Gratuitous will pop up a beaver icon that when clicked will bounce to additional footage of your "favorite hotties". For example, during the pirate ship sequence, clicking on the beaver will pull up clips of attractive women undulating and eating bananas. Get it?
The rest of the supplements are a mishmosh of frothy nothingness, like Everyone Loves Beaver: Epic Hookups (04m:18s). Here we get to hear the cast pretend that the beaver character is real, and they spend four minutes I'll never ever get back talking about his relationships. Hot Or Not: Character's Turn On and Turn Offs (01m:44s) is another timewaster, though if hearing a beaver say "I like grass that's been peed on by a cougar" funny, then this is for you. Making The Video: Lazy Pirate Day (09m:35s) serves one purpose, and that is to ogle the scantily clad female pirates, and What Makes Aslo So Irresistible? (02m:09s) has people pontificating on the attractiveness of Fred Willard's character. Other lowbrow stuff includes Epic Movie: What Would Your Porno Be Called? (02m:30s), and it appears to be have been assembled by a Cuisinart, being nothing more than a rambling series of pointless comments and Carmen Electra talking about her makeup for the film.A set of Outtakes (03m:40s), an Alternate Ending (01m:33s) and the please-don't-make-me-watch-someones-amateur-video Die Libre: The Winning Short From The Epic Movie Viral Video Contest (03m:01s) are also here.
There's also Fox Movie Channel Presents: Making A Spoof (07m:18s) and Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character With Fred Willard (09m:05s), a pair of "legit" shorts, made only barely tolerable by Willard.
The disc is cut into 24 chapters, and includes subtitles in English or Spanish.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsThere are few things worse than a theoretical comedy than continually misfires, and this one throws so many gags out there it would seem logical that a few of them would stick. Yet they don't. Watching Epic Movie is like watching a bad 90 minute SNL sketch with a bigger budget.
Please, let this signal the end of the "spoof" genre for awhile. Please!
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