SUPERHERO MOVIE (2008)
Drake Bell - Rick Riker/Dragonfly
Sara Paxton - Jill Johnson
Christopher McDonald - Lou Landers/Hourglass
Leslie Nielsen - Uncle Albert
Marion Ross - Aunt Lucille
Ryan Hansen - Lance Landers
Robert Joy - Dr. Hawking
Kevin Hart - Trey
Brent Spiner - Dr. Strom
* out of ****
What ever happened to the spoof genre? It used to be so awesomely funny back in the day. Remember Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty dancing to "Stayin' Alive" while Girl Scouts fought in the background? What about Bill Pullman using the Schwartz? Who can forget Charlie Sheen and Lloyd Bridges fighting off a dog-faced Saddam Hussein? And who didn't smile watching Leslie Neilsen fumble during his police investigations while keeping O.J. Simpson busy enough to not murder his wife and her friend (allegedly)? Spoof films used to be funny!!
Some modern ones still make me laugh. They usually begin with SCARY and end with MOVIE, but I'm laughing. But after watching DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE, and MEET THE SPARTANS, my anticipation and hope for great spoof films have faded into oblivion. Add SUPERHERO MOVIE to the list, as it's one of the unfunniest comedies I have seen so far in 2008. Is it better than EPIC MOVIE and MEET THE SPARTANS? Absolutely. But really...is that saying a whole lot?
Pretty much ripping off the first SPIDER-MAN movie, we have high school nerd Rick Riker (Drake Bell) who lives with his Aunt Lucille (Marion Ross) and his Uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen) and has a major crush on next door neighbor Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton), who is dating some asshole jock named Lance Landers (Ryan Hansen). On a school field trip to Amalgamated Pharmaceuticals, Rick accidently sprays himself with H20-9, an artificial pheromone that causes any animal around him to get horny and have their way with him. One of these creatures is a dragonfly, which bites Rick and gives him superpowers [like climbing walls, having armored skin, and a sticky grip that causes more embarrassment than anything]. He begins to fight crime and becomes the city's hero as the mysterious Dragonfly.
As this goes on, Lance's uncle and Amalgamated Pharmaceutical CEO Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald) experiments a cure-all solution on himself due to the fact that he's dying. It works, giving him the ability to suck the life force out of people in order to stay young and immortal. Dressing up as the villainous Hourglass, Landers attempts to plan a mass murder at the World Humanity Awards to suck the life force of all the guests to gain immortality. Of course, Dragonfly gets a word of this and the two end up confronting each other.
Man, I long for the days of AIRPLANE!, NAKED GUN, and HOT SHOTS. Those were, and still are, very funny films. But this film? Not so much, even though it does work better than EPIC MOVIE and MEET THE SPARTANS does. I think that's because David Zucker, who knows what a spoof film is supposed to be, produced this movie. But SUPERHERO MOVIE is a far cry from all those spoof classics that gave many of us so much joy. Instead of actually telling us a story by making a parody of another film, Zucker and Craig Mazin decide to cram as much pop culture references as possible so people can laugh. Why? Can't we just watch YouTube or read celebrity blogs to get those kind of laughs, which actually work better than the ones done here? It's pretty pointless and doesn't make a whole lot of sense in context with the narrative. I'm not saying none of the jokes work. Some do and are actually quite funny. But most of them are just lame and I just shook my head during most of the film, asking myself what compelled me to have the urge to review this film.
Speaking of the narrative, if you've seen SPIDER-MAN, you've seen this film pretty much. They pretty much copied and pasted a much better and FUNNIER screenplay and pretty much changed names and added in fart and shit jokes for chuckles. Now if you want to rip-off a superhero movie, SPIDER-MAN is highly worthy of it. But make the damn thing clever and give viewers a reason not to pay for the same film twice within 6 years. SPIDER-MAN is witty as hell and probably why people still love that film [I know I do]. There's already comedy in that film. It doesn't need a parody. A more serious superhero film, like BATMAN BEGINS or something, would have worked better in my opinion. Yes, there is a small parody of the Batman film I just mentioned, but it's done in such a way that the joke got old the moment the first shot was heard [it makes fun of Bruce Wayne's parents getting killed]. I just thought the whole thing was pointless, even though the first half of the film was actually decent until it disintegrated within the last half.
Like I said, some of the jokes do work. The Tom Cruise impersonation by Miles Fisher is actually pretty funny, only because he's the best actor I've seen to pull off the whole Scientology skit. And the Stephen Hawking thing with Robert Joy probably made me laugh the most. What a foul-mouthed character he is, but the robotic voice used as he cussed had me actually laughing out loud. I thought it was actually pretty clever and very well done. Other things that kind of worked was the opening credits, which actually had a great heroic score and Dragonfly using a flashlight to display his costume while he grabbed his crotch and stuff. Stupid but entertaining. I liked the scene where Dragonfly and Hourglass confronted each other and the camera starting spinning around them to the point where the actors got dizzy themselves. That was definitely Zucker's work through and through. The urination scene where Dragonfly is on the ceiling while Landers senses his presence [like the first SPIDER-MAN] actually worked. And the X-Men thing was okay. Watching Wolverine shave his legs with his claws was cute and some of the mutant powers made me chuckle, but it became unwatchable at the end due to a certain "actress". I'll get to her later.
Most of the jokes were just terrible though. The Human Torch scene with Simon Rex was horribly unfunny. I mean, he's the Human Torch yet he's surprised that his body was on fire? And while he's whining, the Dragonfly beats him with a fire extinguisher and accidentally pours gasoline on him. It did nothing for me. Stuff about Britney Spears, how being a virgin makes you a loser, and the BATMAN BEGINS parody could have been used better. I think the worst one was Marion Ross sleeping on a couch and doing the longest fart gag in movie history. I mean, it lasted like five minutes. Yes, it was funny during the first minute, but it just got lamer and lamer as it went on. And then all the cliches and stereotypes about farts were used within those five minutes. You thought The Fonz jumping over that shark was embarrassing? Mrs. Cunningham took the cake in this film. Geez.
Craig Mazin directed the film well. I can't complain. The visuals were decent and so were some of the special effects. It was well-made and looked more professional than the last few spoof films that have been released.
The acting was actually the best part of the film for me. Drake Bell fits the nerd bill believably [maybe because he is one?] and I liked him as the lead. He had decent comic timing, so I can't say anything bad about him. Sara Paxton was WAY hotter than Kirsten Dunst as the girlfriend. She also acted better too. If there's one improvement over SPIDER-MAN, it's this actress. Chris McDonald was great as the villainous Hourglass. He was a sleazeball and it worked for me. He definitely made a good convincing bad guy. Leslie Neilsen is Leslie Neilsen again. It's not a classic performance from the spoof master, but I liked him anyway. Brent Spiner left his "Data" role behind and was actually pretty funny as Dr. Strom, Hourglass' lackey. And Tracy Morgan was pretty cool as Professor Xavier.
The cameos were mixed. Pamela Anderson looked hot as the Invisible Girl, although her "white girl talking black" routine was pretty weird. Robert Hays returned to his spoof roots as Rick's dad, while Nicole Sullivan was underused as Rick's mom. Simon Rex sucked as the Human Torch though. And no one annoyed me more than Regina Bell as the bald-headed Mrs. Xavier. UGH! Her spoof schtick works in the SCARY MOVIE franchise, but not here. She's better than this role.
THE FINAL HOWL
SUPERHERO MOVIE is a bad film, but at least it "tries" to be a good one. Too bad it's more miss than hit. Stick with SPIDER-MAN, which is a much more clever and funny film than this one could ever be. Unless you love fart and shit jokes, stay away from SUPERHERO MOVIE. Welcome to the WTF Vault, SUPERHERO MOVIE. If I ever need to not laugh again, I'll shine a Dragonfly signal to let you know.