Superhero Movie

May 16th, 2008 Film, Film Reviews, Moviehole

Just like the movies themselves have become dumber as studios chase the disposable incomes of ever-young, attention-poor audiences, the gag comedy has done the same.

The breakout work of the genre, 1980’s Airplane/Flying High, was the mother lode of parody comedies, with both visual and scripting jokes flying at a pace you could hardly keep pace with.

The team behind it, the Zucker brothers, met with less success with successive efforts and the genre seemed to die in the late 90s with straight-to-video, tragically unfunny examples like Wrongfully Accused and 2001, A Space Travesty.

Then the Wayans brothers took hold of the reigns and gave us Scary Movie franchise, part classic gag comedy, part gross-out. It improved only marginally when David Zucker took over the helm, but what it did show the suits was that Movie movies were big money.

Hence an endless string of parodies, from Date Movie to Epic Movie, each one worse than the last (thanks to Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg). Surprisingly, Superhero Movie is a better effort. It’s obvious we’ll never get the glory days of the early Zucker brothers’ work back — Superhero Movie is still puerile and flabby, having needed several more passes by script doctors and editors — but there are more laughs than in most recent outings by the genre.

The overarching theme is from Spider-Man, as a nerdy young teen is bitten by a genetically enhanced dragonfly during a school science trip to the local genetic engineering multinational.

After developing superpowers, he divides his time between fighting crime and loving the girl of his dreams from afar while …you get the idea, but there are traces and riffs from X-Men, Fantastic Four and more.

Like most gag comedies, the filmmakers have thrown a lot of crap at a wall to see what would stick. More of it does than you expect, but only if you tone your expectations down accordingly. Of course, if you’ve paid money to see this, they were never too high anyway.

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