March 31, 2008

Movie Review: Superhero Movie

With the rash of lame, and lame looking, spoofs over recent years, is there any wonder why I was skeptical about this movie? On the heels of such "classics" as Date Movie, Epic Movie, The Comebacks, and Meet the Spartans, was there any reason at all to think that Superhero Movie would be good? I was suckered by both Date and Epic, I vowed not to be again, but we all know how those go. One thing leads to another and BAM I'm front and center at a spoof. I was able to avoid Meet the Spartans, yet fell under the tractor beam of Superhero Movie. I am at a loss to explain what happened, other than it was a combination of a mildly positive review at and the fact that it was not from the team from Epic, Date, etc. This was actually from the creative mind of a single person, Craig Mazin, a rarity for these sorts of projects lately.

We are Beyond the days of Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Airplane!, and The Naked Gun. We are even past the likes of Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Vampire in Brooklyn (that's a spoof, right?). They have been replaced by the likes of the Scary Movie series and all of those wonderful films mentioned in the opening. Gone are the days when spoofs were funny, had a distinct target yet had a timeless quality, in are the days of spoofs that rely on pop-culture references and the stringing together of unrelated scenes from just about every recent movie. It is because of this shift that Superhero Movie is such a breath of fresh air (aside from the wonderful entries from the UK, in the form of Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz).

>Now, do not get me wrong, Superhero Movie is not a good movie, it is not likely to be remembered for very long, nor is it anywhere near the films of, say, Mel Brooks. Despite those facts, this movie is sporadically very funny, and if you are a fan of the recent superhero explosion, you will surely find something to like contained within it's filmed frame.

The primary target of the movie is obviously Spider-Man. To that end, writer/director Craig Mazin stuck to his single target and organically mixed in bits of other genre related fare, unlike their namesakes: Epic and Date. From start to finish, the movie is nearly a shot for shot rehash of the Sam Raimi film. There is a distinct level of consistency of vision throughout that can only be attributed to having one writer, or at the least a limited creative staff, you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen. Or perhaps it is just that Mazin has a better grasp on what a spoof needs to be a success. Then again, it just may be my familiarity with the genre allowed me to enjoy this more than I should have.

Drake Bell stars as Rick Riker, a mild mannered high school student. He is a loser, picked on by bullies, is prone to accidents, but is a good student. While on a field trip Rick is bitten by a genetically engineered dragonfly, from that moment forward, his life would never be the same. Meanwhile, terminally ill scientist Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald) is experimenting with a process that should make him well, but drives him mad and gives him the ability to suck life from others. And so, the Dragonfly and the Hour Glass are born, destined to cross paths and have an epic battle to the finish.

Before the super-powered battle can come to fruition, Rick must deal with the death of a loved one, the strange changes to his body, the class bully, the unattainable girl of his dreams, and a host of other high school distractions before he can rise up and claim his rightful title of Dragonfly.

If you know Spider-Man, you know Superhero Movie. It is a goofy, stupid take on that film with side steps into X-Men, Batman, and Fantastic Four. It is light entertainment, to be certain, but it has plenty of laughs and certainly hit the right notes for me. It certainly helps if you are familiar with the superhero genre, and have a high tolerance for stupidity. It seems that my highly refined sense of taste (yes, that's a joke) fed right into what they were attempting to accomplish.

Bottomline. Certainly not for all tastes, but it is a step up from other recent spoofs. This is a movie that is not going to review well, but its audience knows who they are. I was just surprised to find myself to be among the chosen few.



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