Superhero Movie (2008)

(In theaters, April 2008) The comedy sub-genre of the spoof has fallen on hard time recently, and if Superhero Movie won’t do much to raise the bar, at least it has stopped digging deeper than the most common denominator: it does contain a number of laughs, and won’t disappoint indulgent audiences even despite its general lack of cleverness. Detail-oriented cinephiles will note that the lineage of this film takes on from the not-so-awful Scary Movie 3 and 4 rather than the Epic Movie creators. The big obvious target here is Superhero movies (imagine that), with a plot line taken straight from Spider-Man with occasional references from the X-Men and Fantastic Four trilogies. The humor is dumb, crude, gross and slap-sticky, but sometimes it works: seeing a Stephen Hawking caricature repeatedly swear after bodily harm is funnier than expected. Drake Bell isn’t too bad (ie: escapes the film with most of his dignity) as the protagonist of the tale, while Leslie Neilsen has long passed that point and even cameos by Regina Hall fail to create excitement. There are a few up-to-the-second pop-culture gags (the most inspired being the parody of Tom Cruise’s already-loopy Scientology video), but the bodily secretion gags eventually overwhelm everything else, leaving little that’s funny for high school graduates. The only way this film looks good is that there’s been much worse in the genre lately. Otherwise, this doesn’t even reach the level of High School High which, ten years ago, was considered an unfunny mess.

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