In nature, the monkey expresses boredom, anger and general displeasure by hurling his feces. While watching Epic Movie, I desperately longed to be that monkey. Imagine having the irreproachable honor of chucking a piping stack of excrement, watch it explode Pollock style across the screen, and know that your action did absolutely nothing to mar the quality of what was being viewed. Now that’s a chest beater.
Unfortunately, I’m not a monkey, so I’ll have to disguise my baser impulses with a thin veneer of civility. By all means, consider this submission a metaphorical fling of my poo. Get ready to duck.
Few movies of this kind provoke my ire, but this one comes closer than any other. The movie, if you can call it such, is a string of skits cobbled together higgledy piggledy for the sole purpose of lampooning various blockbuster movies from recent past. Plot be damned, and the jokes that go with them too.
As far as synopsis goes, the movie revolves around four children from different backgrounds who come together and realize they have a shared destiny. If you think that’s a vague, inappropriate plot summary, don’t fret; the brainchild behind this swill never cooked the story beyond that sentence either. Basically, you’ve just been informed about the entire movie. Sorry for the spoiler.
What follows is an 86-minute shoehorning of every possible parody without rhyme, reason, and more importantly, humor. Past movie spoofs like Naked Gun, Airplane, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, etc, possessed a bizarre, daffy wit. Instead, Epic Movie consists of a horribly awkward X-Men skit that lacks any comic bite. More embarrassing is Crispin Glover as a fey Willy Wonka who performs nonsensical dance moves. Ditto for Keith Carradine’s museum curator in the movie’s opening skit of The Davinci Code. It’s not a parody when the punchline consists of stunt doubles performing pretzel twists. It really shows nothing worth ridiculing about the movie it sets to spoof, and therefore it’s not funny. This is an instance where imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.
At every turn, Epic Movie dumbfounded me with its awful, hackneyed visual gags. As the flatulent lion, Fred Willard’s Aslo is locked in combat with another manimal. In the long shots, the movie makes it obvious that there are doubles at work. In close-ups, the stunt actor is clearly Asian to Willard’s wrinkly Caucasian self. Funny, but you know what? It’s been done before. And better.
It’s telling that comedy veterans like Jennifer Coolidge (The White B!tch of Narnia) and Fred Willard couldn’t even mine any comic juice from this desert script. Credit Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer for writing (and directing) this greenlit dung pile. Here’s a sample line that passes for dialogue:
Susan: We have to get out of here.
Lucy: We have to get out of here. [Susan looks annoyed that Lucy repeats everything she says]
Compare that to a classic nugget from The Naked Gun:
Drebin[standing at the foot of a ladder, looking off camera, ostensibly up Jane’s skirt]: Nice Beaver
Jane[coming down from the ladder with a beaver]: I just had it stuffed.
As for the actors who play the four children (Kal Penn, Jayma Mays, Faun A. Chambers and Adam Campbell), well, they’re still young enough in their careers that acquitting them would be the charitable thing to do. Ok, I’m kidding. After Kal Penn’s wonderful turn as Kumar in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Penn reduces himself to an insipid prop. Same for Mays, who made a great supporting turn in Red Eye and played an endearingly sweet teacher in Fox’s Glee.
I can’t bring myself to further waste my time writing about this and further wasting yours by reading it. I believe you get the picture. Without the gut busting zip of a Zucker/Abrahams work or the insolent and raunchy humor of a Wayans’ Brothers concoction, Epic Movie just left me wanting something I’d lost – namely 86 minutes of my life and ten dollars. Yes, I actually paid to see this one while it was still in theaters.