Thursday, January 26, 2012

Film Review: Disaster Movie

Disaster Movie
  • Publisher: Lionsgate
  • Studio: Grosvenor Park / 3 in the Box
  • Release: 29 August 2008
  • Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
  • Producers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer, Peter Safran
  • Writers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
  • Starring: Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Gary "G-Thang" Johnson
One of my favourite things on TV is the "I Love The '80s" family of specials by VH1.   I've learned so many things from all those time periods, things I never knew existed, that it more or less kicked off my interest in the 80s.  The next-best thing to them that exists in the realm of cinema would be the spoof genre kick-started by Airplane! in 1980.  These days, the genre has been dominated by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg, heretofore referred to as "Selzterberg".  And while I derive a sort of guilty pleasure from counting all the references they collect in their films, more than anything else, their works make me cringe.  2008's Disaster Movie is commonly regarded as their worst - no small feat - so of course I had to track it down and review it.

The movie starts with an intro ripped straight out of 1998's Armageddeon.  Another film I could be watching now!  ...The fact that I'm comparing Michael Bay favourably to something is not a good sign.  We jump to 10,000 10,001 BC, where a hunter-gatherer (Matt Lanter) gets into a fight with Wolf, from the American Gladiators revival, and Amy Winehouse as a sabre-toothed, gasoline-drunk beast.  Yeah... joke aborted.  She gives a thirty-second burping scene (some records are not meant to be broken) and warns him of the end of the world, to occur on 29 August 2008.  In other words, the release date of this film.  SYMBOLISM!!

Then the same man, Will, wakes up in the present day -- to be exact, the day of the end of the world, and the same day he's having a party at his loft.  He's a 25-year old dude holding a Sweet 16 party because he's never had one yet.  Ya know, that was quite an intelligent joke there!  Too bad they had to counterpoint that by running a parody of the My Super Sweet 16 intro.  A more competent writer (read: me) would've let the other joke settle.  Guests at the party include Dr. Phil (it's been done), Anton Chighur from No Country For Old Men, and some broad (Kim Kardashian).  That's right: Kim Kardashian, America's favourite Armenian-ethnic, is in this movie.  ...Let that set the tone.  So in a series of pointless events, Calvin (Gary Johnson) tries to stop Seth and McLovin' McLover, the two guys from Superbad, from stealing alcohol, the High School Musical crew break into song, and Kim Kardashian and Carmen Electra break into a WWE WOW Divas catfight.  I'd be turned on if they weren't such bad actors.

Going back to the party, we are also introduced to Juno Juney, who laments about keeping her baby, in acoustic-guitar-song form.  During the song, she mentions Brangelina buying her baby on eBay, except the web page she shows says "uPay".  And they did this earlier, during the Amy Winehouse scene, with Facebook and "FaceNook".  Ladies and gentlemen, they just didn't care.  Another thing to throw on the "just didn't care" pile: this is the third Seltzerberg film in a row with a Brangelina adoption joke.  Going back to not-Juno's character, she talks exclusively in-jokes written by an overly clever screenwriter (her words, not mine), and chugs a whole jug of Sunny Delight and vodka.  Hardcore fetal alcohol syndrome, because... funny?

Now the real plot starts as asteroids strike the city and the film tries to live up to its own name.   Will, Calvin, not-Juno, and Kim Kardashian flee into the streets together, witnessing Hannah Montana getting crushed by an meteor, and not dying for a minute and a half.  See, that's the other problem with this film: even on those rare occasions where the writers managed to generate a truly funny joke, they drag it out for too long.  So with conditions outside getting worse, the crew hunker down in some sort of warehouse, where they fight the Sex and the City girls for control of the space.  Not-Juno wins the fight by breaking out her baby, then her water breaks over Will and Calvin - by that, I mean a fire extinguisher breaks open behind the camera.  WTF?  I'm no OB-GYN, but water breaking does not work that way.  See, that's the other other problem with this movie: an over-reliance on gross-out gags.  Hope you enjoy spending time with the lowest common denominator, ya jerks.  Me, I'll be over here doing cool things.

Like seeing into Will's dream, where he plays Hayden Christensen in Jumper, that movie about the teleporting guy.  Apart from milking that concept for all it's worth, the dream sequence serves to warn Will of his commitment issues, which has driven a rift between him and his girlfriend (Vanessa Minnillo).  At least, until he warps into that Narnia movie and impales himself on Prince Caspian's sword.  Fun fact: When not-Caspian calls him "that guy who ruined Star Wars", he's not just referring to Christensen, but the fact that Matt Lanter did the voice of the same character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  An unintentional joke lies in wait for anyone who's read reviews on that movie, seeing as how it's been scored worse than any of the live-action prequels, even the one with Jar-Jar Binks.  But still not as badly as Disaster Movie.

With that Big Lipped Alligator Moment (TM 2008 Nostalgia Chick) out of the way, Will resolves to patch things up with his girlfriend, and the crew departs again, however another asteroid crushes Kim.  And thus Kim Kardashian's character was killed off.  And there was much rejoicing.  That is, until she gets replaced by not-Giselle, the princess from not-Enchanted.  Calvin wins her hand in a breakdancing duel, and then the plot barges back into the room.  A cavalcade of superheroes tries to stop the nearest tornado - and by that I mean stand still, say their name or catchphrase, and get hit by a cow.  P.S. The special effects in this scene - nay, the whole movie - are so bad that I could've pulled them off!  Keeping with the Monty Python and the Holy Grail mood (yet another film you could be watching now!)...  Playing the role of the Killer Rabbit is not-Alvin and the non-CGI Chipmunks! So the crew is beset by the rabid puppet chipmunks and a rabid Head-On commercial, and in the ensuing chaos, not-Juno is killed.  back outside, the townspeople are evacuating, including not-Christian Bale's Batman, who shares this exchange with not-Giselle:

Batman: I'm Batman.
not-Giselle: I'm Enchanted Princes.

...

...

...

Umm... news flash: her name's Giselle, NOT "Enchanted Princess"!  Which you would've learned IF YOU JUST [verb]ING WAITED!!  And it's not like Enchanted was one of those Summer 2008-release films that didn't come out until after the script was written, no, it released in November of 2007, so there's just NO [verb]ING EXCUSE!!  What, could you not afford the TEN DOLLARS to see the movie in theaters since you broke the bank casting Kim Kardashian?  [verb] YOU SELTZERBERG, I QUIT!!!

...

Oh, right, the climax.  So, Will has to get to the museum to free his trapped girlfriend.  To get there, not-Giselle hijacks the Mach 5 Mach 5 1/2 from Speed Racer (you know, that thing they made a film of in 2008?  Anyone remember?), which apparently has Michael Jackson hiding out in the trunk with a little boy and a monkey.  Two things wrong with this picture: One, Scary Movie 4 (yet another movie you could be watching right now!) already did a Michael Jackson parody.  Two, that movie was written closer to MJ's child molestation trials.  By 2008, the public had accepted the fact that he was found not guilty.  ...Apparently, not Seltzerberg!  And the less said about how close this was to the singer's untimely death, the better.

In the museum, the gang rescues Will's girlfriend, the committment-challenged Will starts his relationship on a new foot, and she pulls this movie's macguffin, the Crystal Skull, from out of her... from her... from... under her dress.  Just then, they are beset by Beowulf and not-Po from Kung Fu Panda... who introduces himself as, "I am Kung Fu Panda!"  ...Here we go again.  Not-Po kills Calvin and not-Giselle (and there was much rejoicing), but Will and Amy manage to flee from Beowulf after questioning his sexuality, what with him fighting in the nude like he does in that trailer..

Sorry, I have to get back up on my soapbox again for a moment.  Ladies and gentlemen...  Hollywood is racist.  Yeah, you heard me right.  During the High School Musical parody, an Asian and nerdy (and gay) one-shot is brought on screen for a moment, and Calvin, being the African-American co-lead, spouts a laidback, uneducated accent and more ebonics than anyone in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  Also his actor is billed as "G-Thang".  That's right: his name ain't nothing but a "G-Thang", baby, with two doped-out writers going crazy.  And also: Hollywood is gaycist.  Apart from spending all his on-screen time naked, not-Beowulf says he hangs out with a life partner with whom he goes fishing and runs an antique store.  Based on this information alone, Will labels him as a homosexual, which Beowulf denies, since apparently he treats this as a bad thing.  *sigh* How long are we gonna last until we shrug off all these old stereotypes set up in who knows what less-informed eras?  We must shrug off the media establishment NOW!  SUPPORT FOREIGN FILMS!!  (That means anime.)  ...Oh God, I'm sounding like a Marxist revolutionary right now.  Better get off the soapbox before the Tea Party sends me angry letters.

*whew* This is turning into not only one of my angriest reviews, but one of my longest, so let's wrap this up.  Will meets his father, a black midget Indiana Jones (because... funny?), places the crystal skull on its altar, undoing the natural disasters, marries Amy with the help of not-Guru Pitka (Anyone remember The Love Guru?  No?  Good on ya.), and drops the biggest bombshell of all: he's dating Matt Damon.  Yes, this film wraps up with a musical curtain call, with all the characters singing about who's dating who.  For those of you not up on your late-night TV, this segment is a parody of "I'm [verb]ing Matt Damon" (the unrated version uses this title as well), a song Sarah Silverman did on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  Funny thing is, a different parody by Kimmel himself, "I'm [verb]ing Ben Affleck", became more famous afterwards.  It helps that the Ben Affleck version evolves into a We Are The World-parody, so yeah, you should check that out.

I was honestly surprised at the fact that Seltzerberg were able to throw some halfway decent jokes our way from time to time.  The only problem is, whatever good stuff there is gets ruined either by the writers' non-existent sense of comedic timing, or by all the crude, pointless moments that surround them.  Everything about this movie is sophomoric: the humour, yes, but also the plot and its resolution, the visual effects, and even its references were chosen without care.  So many of the films, series, and personalities spoofed within had faded from memory even before Disaster Movie was released - now that, my friends, is an epic fail.  Let this be a lesson to screenwriters: don't count other people's chickens before they hatch.  *chu*  G'night everybody!

Positives:
+ Kim Kardashian gets killed off at some point!  That's something!  ...Right?
Negatives:
- Haphazardly-constructed plot.
- Over-reliance on unfunny and even offensive jokes,
- The references are unoriginal and show a lack of basic research on Seltzerberg's part.
- Lousy special effects.
- Totally fake acting.

Acting: 1 falling cow out of 5
Writing: 0 falling cow out of 5
Technical: 1 falling cow out of 5
The Call: 15% (F)

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