Directed by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer (Epic Movie)
Starring: Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Gary "G Thang" Johnson, Nicole Parker, Crista Flanagan
Crass, stupid, unfunny, cheap, infantile, mind-numbing, boring, witless, harebrained, asinine, senseless and fatuous—and those are some of the more agreeable aspects of Disaster Movie—only begins to describe this latest offering in a seemingly unstoppable series of Movie movies from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Messrs. Friedberg and Seltzer are to the 21st century what the Black Death was to the 14th. My personal suspicion is that they are secretly being paid by the Wayans Brothers—a desperate bid to make the Wayans Brothers’ movies look better by comparison.
This, by the way, is the movie that Lionsgate shoved into 2,642 theaters, while dumping Midnight Meat Train into only 102 second-run houses. I’d love to hear new Lionsgate head honcho Joe Drake explain this savvy move to the shareholders. Actually, I’d love to see all those involved arrested on charges of crimes against humanity. Every time one of these Friedberg-Seltzer movies is released the sum total of human knowledge is reduced. The duo really ought to go into politics and leave cinema alone.
What can be said of the film (and I use the term loosely) itself? Well, it is possibly somewhat shy of the sheer loathsomeness of Date Movie, and I suppose that’s in its favor. It may also be said to scale new heights in “creative” chutzpah, since it contains “gags” based not on actual movies, but on trailers for movies. This became evident even before Disaster Movie came out, when it included a scene in its own trailer that referenced a scene from the unreleased You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. If nothing else, this reduces the amount of time viewers need to see movies being “parodied” to two-and-a-half minutes of trailer. There may be a way of further lowering the lowest-common denominator, but I can’t imagine what it would be.
As with previous entries in the series, Disaster Movie is merely a collection of pop-culture references—not gags, mind you, just references. In the land of Friedberg and Seltzer merely recognizing D-list celebrities, other movies and TV shows is supposed to be sidesplittingly funny. Pat yourself on the back for your pop-culture IQ and move on. Here we have references to Juno (2007), Enchanted (2007), High School Musical (2006) etc., with requisite appearances by Iron Man, Batman, Hellboy, the Hulk, Beowulf, Alvin and the Chipmunks and, of course, tabloid-trash divas like Amy Winehouse and Jessica Simpson for good measure. The “plot” more or less follows that of Cloverfield (2008), until it somewhat inexplicably becomes Night at the Museum (2006) combined with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Then again, the whole thing is pretty inexplicable by its very existence.
The only bright side is that almost no one seems to be watching the movie—at least judging by the 7:40 p.m. showing I attended on Friday night. There were maybe a dozen people in attendance. A covey of young ladies spent the entire film text messaging on their cell phones and talking amongst themselves. A couple near them finally wandered off to seats on the other side of the theater and proceeded to occupy themselves with seemingly more intimate matters. Someone else left part way through. A more stalwart bunch sat quietly in the front rows. They may have been conscious. And there I was in the very last row—as far from the screen as possible to avoid contagion—grim in the realization that I was perhaps the only person actually watching Disaster Movie. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence.