What do you get when you mix six pee jokes, three fat people jokes,one poo joke and fart jokes too numerous to count? No, not a group of grade four boys playing video games and trying to blow Pepsi through their noses. How about if we add a little Carmen Electra and some blow-job jokes? No, not those same boys four years later. Let me give you one last hint: add 86 minutes of my life that I won't get back.
That's right, Epic Movie.
Now I was more than a little bit excited when the great Jason Myers asked me to do some more regular reviews of movies for Revolution SF. I poured through the list of films he sent me with the husband unit to determine what our date night would contain. We chose Epic Movie ‘cause we knew that the actress who played the wonderful, but short-lived Charlene "Charlie" Andrew from Heroes was in it. At least if the movie sucked I could indulge in some 'shipping about Hiro and Charlie. What the husband unit might do, I didn't want to know.
Anyhoo, Nibs and tea in hand, I settled in, hoping for a few laughs. And that the Nibs were fresh.
This movie follows the adventures of four orphans. Lucy (Jayma Mays, the aforementioned Charlie) is the ward of a museum curator in a parody of The Da Vinci Code, complete with a sadomasochistic albino monk who speaks street Latin. Edward (Kal Penn) is living at a Latin American orphanage where he complains about the food and is attacked by a fellow wrestling orphan. Susan (Faune A. Chambers), another orphan, is on the way to Namibia to meet her new adoptive parents when the plane is attacked by snakes and a Samuel L. Jackson impersonator. Peter, our last orphan, played by Adam Campbell (who has also been in Date Movie) is the wimpy mutant who sprouts chicken wings at Mutant High where he is picked on by the cool kids and the headmaster.
These four orphans escape their various plights when they find a "golden ticket" to Willy's factory. They think their prayers have been answered, until they realize they will be added to the candy to make it yummy. They escape Willy's clutches and try to hide. Lucy finds a wardrobe, and the movie pretty much becomes a parody of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe , with a few minor detours to Hogwarts and Pirates of the Caribbean.
In short, formulaic and forgettable. It had its funny parts, but those relied on either juvenile humor or references to many movies I hadn't seen. Luckily for me, the group of twenty-something young men beside me had seen those movies and they made sure to yell out the title of each one so at least I could keep track of what was going on. They also seemed to appreciate the humor more than I. Especially the boobie jokes.
Now I did laugh at some points, but ten minutes after the movie I couldn't remember at what. Understand that my husband and I, like many geek couples, quote funny lines from movies, TV, books and the Internet all the time in the car, after having only heard them once. The fact is this film, like many of its genre, relies too heavily on movie references for its humor. If you haven't seen those movies, you're lost.
Your standard epic movie has many elements that are ripe for parodying: vast outdoor scenes, big back story, sweeping music, normally a love story or two, huge fight scenes, good vs. evil, and the hero overcoming adversity and saving the day to name a few. The writers had a broad canvas to paint on, but by choosing to focus on the last few years of blockbusters and pop culture, the movie quickly became derivative and boring.
There were some nice bits, like the inclusion of Fred Willard and David Carradine, but most of the movie was a waste of my time. Celebrity look-a-likes spouting their face-sake's catch phrases gets old real fast.
Let's be honest, this movie isn't aimed at me. It's desired audience is male, between the ages of 14 and 30, and most likely single. (The inclusion of Carmen Electra was my big hint on that one.) And judging from the reactions of the hoards of them that populated the theatre, they liked it. A lot. The few girlfriends and parents that had been dragged along really couldn't be heard over the testosterone. But like much of the entertainment that is being turned out for this demographic, the results will not stand the test of time. I don't see this one having a cult following in 20 years the way Airplane and Monty Python and the Holy Grail do. It will fade away, like the jokes did from my memory after I left the theatre.
But at least the Nibs were fresh.