|Available at Amazon.com|
Most of the time I’m too optimistic for my own good; I tend to give people a benefit of a doubt, and more often than not that’s come back to bite me in my well-toned posterior. In the past I’ve said things like “Gas will never get as high as four dollars” and “Attack of the Clones can’t be as bad as The Phantom Menace.” Well, we all know how right I was on those accounts, and unfortunately it seems like I haven’t learned my lesson because I was actually looking forward to watching Superhero Movie.
The problem is that I remember the glory days of David Zucker: Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and Hot Shots Part Deux, and every time I see his name attached to a project, I hope that it will be of similar quality; but more often than not I end up disappointed. Now, I’m a good enough reviewer to consider that maybe my expectations were too high for this movie to ever reach, and that maybe I’m being too hard on it, but in this case, I don’t think that’s the problem. Quite frankly, Superhero Movie is dull with very few actually funny jokes.
The movie follows Rick Ryker, a nerdy high school student who lives with his Aunt and Uncle after his parents are killed in a botched mugging. On a field trip Rick is bitten by a genetically enhanced super dragonfly and gains the proportionate speed, strength, yada yada yada of a dragonfly. His only problem? He can’t fly; a fact that Tom Cruise makes endless fun of on YouTube.
Most of the best gags were played to death on the trailers, and in general the pace of the jokes seemed slow. The best Zucker-style parody movies have a machine gun approach to comedy—so many jokes are fired at once that two or three are bound to hit the bullseye—but Superhero Movie drags in too many places, which means that when the jokes fall flat, you really notice it.
But there are a few good moments, mostly due to the actors. Sara Paxton is actually more likeable and appealing in her faux Mary Jane role than Kirsten Dunst was in the real one. Tracey Morgan was great as Professor X, and Leslie Nielsen and Marion Ross give great performances, as usual. The funniest actor, though, has to be Jeffrey Tambor as the clueless doctor. He practically stole the movie.
Unfortunately, the movie just wasn’t consistently funny. Even though David Zucker only produced this movie, I still expected more from it. The superhero genre is ripe for parody, but this movie didn’t do nearly enough to cash in on it. This feels like a half-hearted attempt by people who could and should do better.
The movie was presented in 1:85.1 Widescreen aspect ratio, and technically speaking, it looked fine. The audio was Dolby Digital Stereo and it was good, too. There was nice directionality to the sound effects, and the language, music, and sfx tracks all blended together well without overlapping.
Commentary by Writer/Director Craig Mazin and Producers David Zucker and Robert K. Weiss
Alternate Ending (running time: 10:42)
There wasn’t a great amount of difference between this and the theatrical ending; most of the gags remained the same, with the only significant change being the Incredible Black Rooster scene, which was shown in the trailers, but cut from the final copy.
Deleted Scenes (running time: 10:42)
Most of the deleted scenes could be considered extended cuts of scenes that made it into the final copy with the exception of several different takes on the famous Spider-Man kissing scene, which had some funny gags related to Rick’s sticking powers. Other than that, though, there really isn’t much going on here.
Meet the Cast (running time: 11:12)
There really isn’t much to say about this other than this is your standard cast interview featurette. The best parts were the scenes with Marion Ross, who is kind of like Betty White in that most people think of her as sweet and almost naively innocent, but can be pretty raunchy when she wants to be.
The Art of Spoofing (running time: 10:37)
This featurette mainly focuses on writer/director Craig Mazin and producer David Zucker talking about what generally goes into a parody and what they were trying to achieve with Superhero Movie.
Theatrical Trailer (running time: 2:15)
The trailer was almost funnier than the movie.
Considering how much I’ve enjoyed David Zucker’s work in the past, I hate being so hard on this movie, but if he hadn’t done such a great job with movies like Airplane! and Hot Shots Part Deux, I wouldn’t feel this let down. Really, I would love to see what he and Jim Abrahams could do with the superhero genre, but until that happens we’re stuck with this. Not recommended.
Dimension Films presents Superhero Movie. Directed by Craig Mazin. Starring Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Kevin Hart, Brent Spiner, Jeffrey Tambor, Robert Joy, Regina Hall, Pamela Anderson, and Leslie Nielsen. Written by Craig Mazin. Running time: 82 minutes. Rated NR. Released on DVD: July 8, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.