Epic Movie (2007)

(In theaters, February 2007) Every time I think I’m a good and forgiving reviewer, a stinker like Epic Movie comes along and sets me straight. I normally like comedies and I’ve got a big soft spot for parodies: I think I may have been one of the few non-teens to give a passing grade to Scary Movie 4, for instance. But the current crop of parodies is a long way away from the classic days of Top Secret!: Rather than honest good jokes, we get re-creations of familiar big-budget films with violent slapstick and hip-hop references. There is little intent to subvert the original films, point out their flaws, or use the material as a stepping stone to a more original story. Epic Movie is among the laziest of this wave of parodies from writing/directing duo Friedberg/Seltzer (and, one hopes against dollars, one of the last). A mish-mash of Narnia, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and many others, Epic Movie just seems happy to wallow in recent pop-culture references. Alas, none of them play off each other, the laughs are few and the cumulative effect is irritation. (There’s a moderately witty use of the Click remote control late in the film, but it comes far too late to save anything.) Heck, even the normally amusing Kal Penn is wasted in this film. Perhaps the only thing Epic Movie is good for is showing off the cuteness of Faune Chambers (who’s really playing the role of Regina Hall in the Scary Movies), but if the price to pay to be in her fan-club is to see this film, it may be worth waiting for her next role. Lazy, dull and dumbly reaching for the lowest common denominator, Epic Movie seems determined to prove how little laughs can be included in a “comedy” without having the audience ask for refunds.

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