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Murad Alexandrov
Murad Alexandrov

Epic Movie (2007)

Epic Movie is a 2007 American parody film written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer and produced by Paul Schiff. It stars Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jayma Mays, Jennifer Coolidge, Faune A. Chambers, Crispin Glover, Tony Cox, and Fred Willard. A parody of the epic film genre, the film mostly references The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pirates of the Caribbean, and X-Men.

Epic Movie (2007)

The unrated, longer version (released in the United Kingdom as the "Rude & Crude Unseen Version") of the film features some scenes not shown in the theatrical version. In an alternate ending, Willy Wonka, instead of Borat, comes in and says: "I told you it was going to be an epic adventure." Willy Wonka then goes in the wardrobe and puts out a "do not disturb" sign that refers to the girl in the wardrobe. The Oompa-Loompas come in and start singing a parody version of the Willy Wonka theme song. The four are then crushed by the wheel. Also, during the scene where Lucy is crushed under the junk that falls out of the wardrobe, the girl who runs out is nude, as opposed to wearing a bikini. In the Snakes on a Plane scene, when the Samuel L. Jackson lookalike yells, he replaces "goddamn" with "motherfuckin'".

A. O. Scott of The New York Times called the film "irreverent and also appreciative, dragging its satiric prey down to the lowest pop-cultural denominator" and added, "The humor is coarse and occasionally funny. The archly bombastic score . . . is the only thing you might call witty. But happily, Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard show up ... to add some easy, demented class."[10] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle thought "only a complete idiot could think Epic Movie is remotely funny or worth making at all." Describing it as "so bereft of anything resembling wit or inspiration", he wondered, "What were the perpetrators, uh filmmakers, thinking?"[25] In the Los Angeles Times, Alex Chun called the film "nothing more than a disjointed series of scenes and references cobbled together as a backdrop for sophomoric humor."[26] Ronnie Scheib of Variety said it was "epically unfunny" and "unlikely to join the list of blockbusters it lampoons."[27] The Radio Times said "There's very little that's epic about this senseless parody, but then there's very little that's funny about it, either... It's mind-numbingly, tediously unamusing and is so devoid of imagination it even parodies self-mocking films."[4]The Chicago Reader described the film as being "the cinematic equivalent of a tapeworm", while in his review for The Guardian, John Patterson wrote that "Epic Movie is an epic catastrophe, or an artistic failure of epic proportions, or even an Emetic Piece of Insufferable Crap".[28] The Times expressed surprise that "Penn would stoop so low".[29]

So, the thing about these movies is that they hit you with a joke about every 15 seconds, so it's practically a statistical impossibility that at least a few of them don't hit out of the literal hundreds. I'll go through all of the jokes that made me mildly chuckle now.

Parents need to know that plenty of teens will want to see this raunchy parody from the folks behind Date Movie. It frequently relies on sexual references and body functions for punchlines (though the old standby of good, clean, bopped-on-the-head slapstick gets a workout, too). Lots of crotch and breast gags; plenty of innuendo and big, cartoon-style violence. Some language (mostly "s--t" and "Goddamn"). While the main movie being spoofed is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there aren't any jokes based on the religious allegory underlying C.S. Lewis' plot. References to R-rated films like Snakes on a Plane and Borat may pique young viewers' curiosity to see them.

The story, such that it is, follows four adult "orphans" from a variety of races (the joke is that they're all brothers and sisters, despite their ethnic mix) whose origins rest in plotlines of movies as diverse as Nacho Libre and The Da Vinci Code. The four come into possession of Golden Tickets that allow them tour Willy Wonka's (Crispin Glover) fabulous candy factory. When Wonka tries to make candy out of the overgrown-kid heroes (it's strongly hinted that he has sex-pervert motivations), they hide from him in a wardrobe that turns out to be the portal to the magic land of Gnarnia. There the evil sorceress known as the "White Bitch" (Jennifer Coolidge) tries to catch them to stop the fulfillment of a prophecy that would end her reign. Part of her plans include the woozy pirate Jack Swallows (Darrell Hammond), who, of course, is a takeoff based on a certain Disney pirate-film series. Oh, and there's a homicidal albino monk after them, too.

This film is inane, and not very likable. With a title like EPIC MOVIE, you'd think this feature-length spoof would be taking aim at, well, epic movies, and the clichés of spectacles like Troy or Gladiator. But Epic Movie -- which was made by some of the people involved in Date Movie and the Scary Movie series -- just goofs on a laundry-list of 2005-2006 theatrical releases and TV shows, both epic and non-epic, all pinned to a framework of Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The whole thing is like a MADtv sketch that escaped the small screen to the big one. What's the point? Basically, just a state-of-the-art ridicule of the most current film fads and crazes -- kind of like the way the New York stage community has fresh editions of a parody called Forbidden Broadway every season or so. But there's not much insight beneath the crass, rapid-fire gags and celebrity (or celebrity impersonator) cameos.

Families can talk about the movie's crazy, all-out style of parody. Does any of it work, and do you think anyone will find any of it funny decades from now, when half of the references will have been forgotten? Compare this film to other spoofs -- like Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein and Woody Allen's Shadows and Fog -- in which the comedians seem to have great understanding and affection for what they're spoofing. Is there any of that here?

Here we go. This is the point after which discussing the works of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer becomes an arduous chore. Epic Movie signals the beginning of the end for the blockbuster parody film. This is not to say that the Friedberg-Seltzer movies stop making a profit after this movie. But Epic Movie embodies all of the things that detractors of the parody genre point to when they argue for its extinction. And while Friedberg and Seltzer (mostly) weather the severe backlash to their films through the 2000s, the parody genre as a whole starts to fade away.

And, perhaps most importantly, genres occasionally work in cycles [1]. This is to say, certain types of movies become popular with audiences in a given period of time. A hit film is replicated by studios, potentially creating a saturated market for that content, and audiences eventually tire of the repetition.

This is the other aspect that defines a genre cycle. What goes up must come down, and the waning in popularity is just as important to the cycle as the waxing. When a movie is a hit, the industry might shift to produce movies similar to that hit. When people stop paying money to see that type of movie, the industry shifts the other way.

I write all of this preamble to say, I really would rather talk about anything else besides Epic Movie. It truly is one of the worst movies I have ever experienced, and it proves that my 12-year-old self had the comedy taste of a fart lit on fire. Although, to be fair to myself, I do think I was even mixed on the film at 12.

The entity it borrows most from is The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Disney/Walden's 2005 adaptation of C.S. Lewis's treasured fantasy. As in that film, there are four protagonists who, as on any good epic, embark on a series of adventures.The supposedly youthful leads are all orphans who hail from separate universes that are instantly recognizable. Ditzy, phrase-repeating Lucy (Jayma Mays, a dead ringer for the Scary Movie series' Anna Faris) apparently lives in a museum with a curator who's close to cracking The Da Vinci Code when he is murdered. Edward (Kal Penn, Kumar of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and upcoming sequel) is unhappy in a tiny Mexican monastery's orphanage (out of Nacho Libre). The British Peter (Adam Campbell, Date Movie) is an uncool student at an academy for superheroes, whose mutation -- the ability to sprout tiny chicken wings (a mere fraction of those belonging to X-Men: The Last Stand's Angel) -- evokes ridicule rather than fear. Finally, tough foreigner Susan (Faune Chambers) is about to be adopted by juicy Hollywood couple Brangelina when she narrowly escapes some Snakes on a Plane. Each of the four orphans ends up with a Golden Ticket, which grants them access to a chocolate factory run by creepy recluse Willy (Back to the Future's Crispin Glover). Tim Burton's overcooked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the second most targeted feature, but its treatment subsides soon enough to let Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edward (I don't know why they went with that rather than Edmund) pass through the enchanted wardrobe and end up in Gnarnia during its perennial snowy winter. Things actually play out rather closely to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as Lucy meets half-goat, half-man Mr. Tumnus (Nacho Libre's Hector Jimenez), and Edward encounters The White Witch Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge), who claims to be Gnarnia's queen.It almost goes without saying that along the way, there are a number of parodies of highly-attended mainstream American films. Superman Returns is repeatedly referenced. There's a brief, disjointed segment at Hogwarts where Harry Potter (Kevin McDonald, "The Kids in the Hall") and his cronies have gotten old and let themselves go. Captain Jack Swallows (Darrell Hammond, "Saturday Night Live"'s longest-running cast member) shows up to be odd. The Pirates of the Caribbean actually serve less as satire of the Disney swashbucklers than as part of a feeble take on the much-downloaded "SNL" rap short "Lazy Sunday." Other TV properties lampooned are MTV's "Cribs" and "Punk'd." Modest nods are given to Borat, Mission: Impossible III, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Casino Royale, and Click. Impressive look-alikes are used to poke fun at Paris Hilton and thickly-bearded, intoxicated Mel Gibson. Some semi-severe jabs are even lobbied at President Bush and the missteps of his two terms. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle []).push();By this point, you may be wondering if I plan on saying anything about the quality of the film instead of just listing the various properties it satirizes. I haven't forgotten the primary purpose of a review. It's just that Epic Movie lends itself to little more than watching and compiling a mental checklist of all the recently popular films it laughs at. By the time the central four meet Aslo (Fred Willard), the half-lion, half-man playboy who's supposedly their last hope, you will have long given up taking the plot seriously, if you ever did. Now, your knee-jerk reaction might be that Epic Movie's plot isn't supposed to be taken seriously. It's merely an excuse to have fun skewing the different cultural texts that generate excitement and revenue for studios able to sink more than a hundred million dollars into a single production.I can appreciate that and still, I had plenty of hope for Epic Movie based on the fact that all of the targets are things that I've actually seen (well, with the exception of The Da Vinci Code, whose self-flagellating albino monk Silas features throughout). Unfortunately, without some kind of pre-planned tone and winning sense of humor, a movie like Epic is bound to fall flat. And it does, outside of the very mild aforementioned thrill of being able to recognize broad caricatures of elements and personas from other sources. Epic's biggest problem isn't poor design, inconsistency, or anything heady like that. It's merely the film's type of comedy that lets the viewer down. Scatology abounds, as urine and vomit flow unlike ever before. People getting hit in the face is apparently hilarious; how else to explain such occurrences every few minutes? People getting severely injured and disembodied must also be a hoot, for these too are ubiquitous. Wit and wordplay? They're largely a no-show. The movie even misses the opportunity to have fun with the fact that three of its leading cast members (Kal Penn, Hector Jimenez, Jennifer Coolidge) featured somewhat considerably in three of the "epic movies" being parodied.Even if I must confess a lower tolerance to the obscene than some present-day adult viewers, I can appreciate good low-brow humor with the best of folks. Sadly, Epic Movie serves up very little humor that can be classified as good. It's much more interested in grossing out and embarrassing audiences. I'm sure this is amplified in the unrated cut of the film, the only one sent to reviewers. Still, even if those 8 minutes add some things that don't fly in PG-13land (like brief flashes of nudity and extensive uses of Samuel L. Jackson's blogger-inspired "SOAP" exclamation), more offensive elements probably existed in the theatrical cut, which presumably still comprises 91% of the extended cut. There's a very small demographic which Epic Movie seems to play to. I would imagine it's those in their mid-teens to whom the idea of having "a 40" and getting drunk (two images regularly sprinkled throughout) sounds just immature enough to be deemed fun. Many of these people probably consider themselves too cool for movies like Narnia, Harry Potter, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and maybe, at best, had to settle to tag along with a younger sibling or family member. Will they appreciate Epic Movie? Probably not very much, but still more than most viewers. Those who willingly attended these mainstream hits being spoofed are likely to be with the majority, more apt to cringe than laugh. 041b061a72


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