Late last year, I underwent an experimental brain-wiping surgery that effectively took out most of the memories associated with seeing "Date Movie." I do recall a drill-like pain from watching the picture, and yawing over what directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer pathetically considered satire. Mostly, "Date" consisted of a mild tweaking of already known quantities; a poorly stitched quilt of references to pop culture highs and lows that wasn't even close to passing for a feature film.
"Epic Movie" is crafted at precisely the same level of imagination, only this time romantic comedy pawns are pushed aside to poke a stick at recent blockbusters. It might be called "Epic Movie," but the pointed finger of parody lurches to such recent fare as "Nacho Libre," "Click," and "Borat." Not really the stuff of epics, but just writing that makes me feel foolish for putting any trickle of thought into this monstrosity of a film.
The central product of satire here is "Chronicles of Narnia," referred to as "Gnarnia" in the film. "Epic" uses the fantastical plot to style their own sticky web of lampoons, taking four "orphans" (a sincerely unfunny Kal Penn, grating Adam Campbell, a fraudulent Jayma Mays, and nondescript Faune Chamber) from their sullen lives to the chocolate factory of Willy Wonka (Crispin Glover), where they find the childlike owner is a madman who wants to use their body parts for his candy. Escaping to Gnarnia, the group meets the "White Bitch" (Jennifer Coolidge), who wants to rid her land of the foursome before they ascend to the throne with the help of "lion-man" Aslo (a hurtin' for cash Fred Willard) and the diminutive creature, "Harry Beaver."
The above plot is really a loose idea of what the film is about. When dealing with a picture such as "Epic Movie," there's no time for structure, they just want to set up a loose base of operations to shoot the spoofs from. Opening with a "Da Vinci Code" jab with David Carradine as the dead curator ("Kill Bill" to this, Jesus...), the film jets off to cover "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Superman Returns," "Scarface," the "Harry Potter" series, and "X-Men." Of course, the latter offers a chance to spy Carmen Electra painted up all blue and lustfully like Mystique, so is this movie all that bad?
Dear lord, yes.
Seltzer and Friedberg fancy themselves a hipper version of the classic ZAZ team ("Airplane," "Naked Gun"), but they lack a basic understanding of gracious comedy. All these filmmakers want to accomplish with "Epic Movie" is an endless series of pratfalls, urine and fart jokes, crotch wallops, and dated hipster references (would you believe there's a "Punk'd" joke here? Not to mention a "Cribs" parody too. Take that, 2003!) to temporarily please their hypothetical target demo: drooling pre-teens who have suffered horrible brain injuries from skateboard accidents.
Nothing, I repeat, nothing in this torturous picture is funny, but heavens, the directors do try. They throw everything at the screen, including a "Snakes on a Plane" sequence (it might help their efforts to pick a film people have actually seen), a Kanye West Katrina plea send-up, and a shoddily produced "Lazy Sunday" rap parody with "Captain Jack Swallow" and the pirates. Oddly, nearly every scene appears to end with some character hip-hop dancing to a recent pop hit. I'm not able to explain that one away.
"Epic Movie" even pinches from the "Scary Movie" franchise by instructing actress Mays to put on her best, borderline litigious Anna Faris impression. A spoof spoofing a spoof? Did the world just swallow itself?
Like "Date Movie," "Epic Movie" is a miserably scattershot, heavy-wheezing, comedically-challenged waste of time. The headache squeezes like a vice when one considers how pleasurable this genre can be when the time and effort is placed into razzing worthy subjects with silly, considered humor. Pratfalls and the like are great fun, but not in the lazy service of filmmaking half-wits who don't go any further than Perez Hilton, MySpace, and MTV for their pool of jokes.