Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Complete Disaster

A while back I mentioned I was going to avoid watching any film trailers for a long while. Well, that plan didn’t exactly work out. Checking out the dreadful Watchmen trailer I came across this one for Lionsgate’s Disaster Movie and was intrigued. Intrigued is actually the wrong word.

I know I have to come to terms with the fact that most movies today don’t have the wit and intelligence of the ones I grew up watching. Instead they seem to be made for an audience of uneducated knuckle draggers who rock forward in their seats and applaud along to the bright, colourful images.

But Disaster Movie mines a whole new seam of stupidity. This is a film best enjoyed by someone in a vegetative state, twenty minutes or so after the plug was finally pulled. Pushing your face into an angle grinder would be more entertaining.

I have an uneasy relationship with spoofs and parodies at the best of times. Really, it all depends on whether the filmmakers show some love and respect for the source material and know exactly what it is they’re making fun of, or whether they’ve just slapped together a useless, lazy piss-take that is just jaw-dropping awful.

Good spoofs would be the great one-two Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder had in 1974 with the magnificent Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Even Brooks’ High Anxiety wasn’t half bad, spoofing Hitchcock, although of course nobody parodied Hitchcock better than Sir Alfred himself. Neil Simon playfully ripped the piss out of detective stories with Murder By Death, where comical versions of Sam Spade, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and Charlie Chan found themselves in a cleverly skewed version of Ten Little Indians.

After that came Airplane!, piling on the gags and non sequiturs as it made fun of the Airport movies in which George Kennedy’s Joe Patroni came to the rescue of crippled airliners. Then The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, skewered the classic police shows, and Galaxy Quest, which did it for science fiction shows with laughs and obvious affection.

But since Scary Movie, which turned an occasional titter into a franchise of diminishing returns, studios have just cranked out more and more skanky garbage like Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans. The only real laughs to come from the latter was from reading the broadsheet’s no-star reviews, filled with the splenetic rage of critics who had been made to waste their time on such drivel.

The only good thing to come of them is the audience for this nonsense is, amazingly, finally beginning to wise up. Superhero Movie, which, judging from the gormless trailer, did little more than take the plot of 2002’s Spider Man and replace the spider with a dragonfly to elicit the funnies, absolutely tanked at the box-office. It’s never a good thing to celebrate other people’s misfortunes – at least not in public – but when that giant turd went straight down the crapper there should have been dancing in the streets.

When was it decided that well-crafted jokes could simply be replaced with brainless pop culture references that are instantly dated? What the fuck is that nonsense all about? If Disaster Movie is ostensibly about teens trying to survive catastrophic events and natural disasters, why is the trailer filled with nonsense like the appearance of Princess Giselle from Enchanted or horse face from Sex and the City getting smacked about by Juno? The point of this sort of shit is what exactly?

And anyway, we’ve already had the great disaster movie spoof. In the mid-1970s, after being entertained by Airport, and Irwin Allen’s The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno, came The Big Bus. How can you not love the story of a nuclear-powered, double-deck bus making its inaugural non-stop journey from New York to Denver. Where else can you find a bar fight with torn milk cartons? Or a driver accused of cannibalism? Genius.


At 2:50 pm, Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

Jeez! Not one joke worth the name! I thought you must be exaggerating until I played it.

At 3:42 pm, Blogger qrter said...

Yes, that "Movie" series is absolutely dreadful.

It's not even parody, I've seen them exactly copying jokes from the original film they stole it from, not doing anything with it.

And besides all the blatant plagiarism there's, as you say, just an endless wave of pop culture references.

You get the feeling writing the scripts for these things just consists of taking about 4 or 5 original screenplays, randomly cutting them together and use the 'replace' function for the rest of the day to change names.

At 7:40 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

The Big Bus should certainly be high up in the list of greatest movies ever made. Utterly fucking bonkers and delightful, without being dumbed down to the point of retardation. You know, I think I'll have to inaugurate the new telly system thing with that when I’ve got it all up and running.

At 7:44 pm, Blogger Riddley Walker said...

Oh, and Superhero Movie couldn’t possibly hold a candle to the mighty Mystery Men.

Mister Furious: “Why am I wearing watermelons on my feet?”

The Sphinx: “I don’t recall asking you to do that...”

At 9:10 pm, Blogger qrter said...

I'm rather fond of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Juliet: What are you doing?

Rigby: Adjusting your breasts. You fainted and they... shifted all outta whack. There.

Juliet: Thank you.

Rigby: You're welcome.

At 8:59 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Stephen, for the millionth time, I never exaggerate! (Which is probably a better joke than anything in those “Movie” films). I should really apologise for making you chaps waste a couple minutes of your life. They are utterly staggering. I hope you didn’t go and check out the Superhero Movie which is on the Apple site as well.

Granted Airplane! was based on that arcane late-1950s movie (Zero Hour), even keeping some of the dialogue, and it did have the spoof Saturday Night Fever segment which kind of dates it, but these stupid films with their stupid little skits, simply based on having a different pop culture character appear... that’s awful.

When Harry Met Sally kind of annoys me because it always feels like the scripts for Annie Hall and Manhattan were given a whiz in the blender without the lid on. What came out was slapped together in that order. But compared to these films, which lift wholesale from the originals... It just beggars belief.

Luckily there are spoofs like Mystery Men and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid but these “Movie” movies need to be spanged on the head with a blunt instrument.


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