Directed by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jayma Mays, Faune A. Chambers
I could sit here and simply make jokes about how a more apt title for Epic Movie would be Epically Bad or maybe Bad Movie, but that would be unfair to the reader. It would not begin to explain the sheer, overwhelming awfulness that permeates every minute of this film. It is a blight upon the landscape of film. Of course, if you happen to be 13 years old and enjoy watching people get hit in the head with things, then have I got a movie for you.
The film has a plot (in the loosest sense of the term) that follows four orphans on a so-called “epic adventure.” The basic idea is for these characters to stumble in and out of different films, then parody those pictures, thereby giving the popular movies and trends of the day their rightful ribbing, which will in theory lead to hilarity. While this seems feasible in concept, in practice it fails miserably. There are numerous flaws in directing-and-writing duo Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s (Date Movie) approach, but probably the most glaring is the distinct lack of “epic movies” being spoofed. Even if one is generous enough to concede that The Pirates of the Caribbean films are epics, I find it hard to believe that anyone thinks movies like Nacho Libre (2006), Talladega Nights (2006) or Borat (2006) should be placed under the same category. I guess the title Movies People Have Seen Movie just isn’t as catchy.
Another thing that is severely missing (aside from laughs) is the act of actually spoofing these movies. More than anything, movies are referenced instead of parodied. In the case of the Snakes on a Plane (2006) parody, the result is the most awkward, clumsy Airplane! (1980) reference imaginable. Similarly, there are actors dressed like characters from Talladega Nights in a scene where they have no bearing on anything else that is going on, but the makers simply expect to get laughs based solely on the fact that these guys are dressed like people from another movie. When they do center on one film, they have no teeth or focus. Much of the film is supposed to be a send-up of The Chronicles of Narnia (2005), but nothing is ever made of the film’s overt religiosity. Instead, the best they can do is give Fred Willard a mullet.
If that’s not enough, the film is lowest-common-denominator filmmaking at its most boring. The jokes are obvious (you mean Ashton Kutcher is annoying?). There isn’t the smallest whiff of subtlety (when Friedberg and Seltzer can’t think of a joke, they resort to someone getting hit with something, falling down, and occasionally, getting stabbed). And there’s a horrible lack of relevance in much of the material (they manage to reference an already worn out Chappelle’s Show skit from three years ago, the 2-year-old Chuck Norris fad, not to mention a Saturday Night Live skit from over a year ago). Add to this the film’s amazing ability to waste talent, from David Carradine to Crispin Glover (who has gone on record stating that he did the movie just for the paycheck) to Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), who, after all the garbage he has been in, I suspect either needs the money or just has low self-esteem. Epic Movie has no redeeming qualities (other than giving actors that vaguely look like other actors gainful employment). I’m sure this means there will be a sequel. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence.