Making Fun of Superheroes
All the most hilarious scenes from Superhero Movie show up in the film’s trailer, but there’s still a lot to laugh about in this silly parody of Spider-Man, Batman Begins, X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Too bad the movie also contains one of the most offensive flatulence sequences in recent memory. It almost ruined my enjoyment of everything that followed. However, others in the audience at the screening I attended chuckled and guffawed enthusiastically during that part of the film. I guess it’s all a matter of taste -- or lack thereof.
If you like satires or parodies, Superhero Movie probably boasts enough material to keep you entertained during most of its running time. It’s not, of course, in the same class as Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, or Best in Show. Written and directed by Craig Mazin, who wrote the screenplays for Scary Movie 3 and 4, this comedy goes more for crude physical humor, much of it aimed at certain body parts and the elderly.
On the plus side, I found the performances by Drake Bell, Sara Paxton and Christopher McDonald fun to watch here. All three actors play their roles as if they were in a serious movie, allowing the humorous things happening around them to evoke laughter. Bell (TV’s Drake & Josh) may not be Tobey Maguire, but he projects a similar appealing innocence as Rick Riker, a nerdy teen who’s bitten by a dragonfly and develops super powers soon afterwards. Paxton (Aquamarine) portrays Rick’s love interest with a sexy sweetness that’s hard to resist. And McDonald (Mad Money) seems perfect as wealthy businessman Lou Landers, who morphs into the evil Hourglass, Dragonfly’s nemesis. McDonald’s ability to project so much outrageous self-importance and ambition made me smile every time he came on camera.
Sadly, the characters played by Leslie Nielsen (Naked Gun) and Marion Ross (The Evening Star) -- Rick’s Uncle Albert and Aunt Lucille -- appear only as old people to poke fun at. In their worst scene together, they list each other’s physical faults as the result of aging. But what hurts most is to see Ross, a well-respected actress, used as the key character in the dreadful flatulence sequence mentioned above.
With so many superhero movies showing up in our nation’s multiplexes, the time seems right for poking fun at these films. That’s why it’s refreshing to see Superhero Movie take a sledgehammer comic approach to such genre themes as good vs. evil, the personal struggle of the superhero -- and the importance of his/her costume. If this doesn’t work for you, cheer up. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and The Dark Knight are on their way.
(Released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual content, comic violence, drug references and language.)