Dir. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Premiered January 25, 2007
Epic Movie is not a parody of epics. At no point does it reference such classics as Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Papillon, Amadeus, or Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet.
Nor is Epic Movie itself epic. Whereas actual, watchable parodies Airplane, Not Another Teen Movie, or anything by Mel Brooks really capture the mood and feel of the films they lovingly mock, Epic Movie is a hateful little film with no production value, attention span, awareness of its source material, or sense of humor. I didn’t even see YouTube comments on the trailer try to defend this piece of shit, and that’s saying something.
The best thing to be said about Epic Movie is that it wasn’t a hard watch. Not a minute went by that didn’t give me something to include in this review. It’s so lazy, so random, so incoherent, so loathsome, and so stupid that it could be taken down from any angle.
Drawing its general plot from the story– or rather what writer-director team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer assume to be the story– of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Epic Movie begins with overgrown orphans Edward (Kal Penn), Peter (Adam Campbell), Susan (Jayma Mays), and Lucy (Jayma Mays). Through various contrivances, the four end up with golden tickets to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, only for Wonka (Crispin Glover, the former George McFly and a man who demands to be taken even more seriously than Jared Leto) to take them prisoner in order to harvest their organs for his chocolates, resulting in a generic club music video wherein Wonka begins vivisecting the protagonists alive.
Did I mention that this opens with David Carradine being tied up in a speedo? I’d say that hasn’t aged well, but that wouldn’t distinguish it from anything else in the movie
The orphans escape Wonka by going through the wardrobe into “Gnarnia” (go with it) where Edward is seduced by the White Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge) into betraying the others…somehow. I don’t know how. The movie doesn’t explain. But the main thing is that they’re actually a family separated at birth, despite all appearances, and their return fulfills some kind of prophecy, and the White Bitch has the albino monk from The Da Vinci Code as a henchman, and there’s a goat-man who loves a version of Scarface where Tony Montana is also a goat-man…and Aslan is Fred Willard.
And so it goes: at one point, Lucy gets her tongue ripped out (no story), and after making a joke about how she can’t talk, she immediately starts talking again. And when Susan first appears, and only when she first appears, she has disgustingly hairy legs. Um, okay.
The acting is elementary school theater-level. Even the actors I recognize, people I’ve seen do well, are like this. It’s as if Seltzer and Friedberg told everybody to phone it in, because what’s commitment in comedy?
Also odd are the choices of targets for parody. For a film that purports to take the piss out of the then-recent wave of fantasy movies, The Lord of the Rings trilogy is conspicuously absent. Instead, the film instantly dates itself by taking aim mostly at The Da Vinci Code, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Superman Returns, and the Narnia movies. Epic Movie also makes sure to
skewer acknowledge the existence of such dramatic epics as Nacho Libre, Click, Snakes on a Plane, Talladega Nights, Borat, and the SNL sketch “Lazy Sunday.” Because what’s more ripe for parody than things that weren’t serious to begin with?
People always say that Seltzer and Friedberg are making fun of posters and trailers rather than movies, but I always assumed it to be hyperbole. It isn’t. I’m not sure that Seltzer and Friedberg have ever seen any movie. Unsurprisingly, most of the jokes in this movie don’t make any sense. I wouldn’t even call most of the attempts at humor “jokes.” In fact, I wouldn’t call them “attempts.” Let’s have two examples:
- Wolverine gives Peter the finger with his adamantium claws, but the joke doesn’t work because the movie being parodied already made that joke.
The film mocks the fact that the cast of the Harry Potter movies are way older than their characters, which might surprise some of you who have noticed that that’s not remotely true. That’s Kids in the Hall alum/person who should not be here Kevin McDonald playing Harry, by the way.
The lack of concern or consideration in every conceivable way is awful, but such mindlessness is so expected at this point that it feels pointless to even take note of it.
Signs This Was Made in 2007
Epic Movie might be the most horribly dated motion picture of all time, as it eagerly references “Thug Life,” K-Fed, Diddy, drift racing, Sudoku, Dr. Phil, Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, MySpace, The Olsen Twins, Saddam Hussein (who was executed between the film’s production and premiere), 50 Cent’s tattoos, the then-current run of GEICO ads, Cialis, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” (superfluous comma not mine), The Pussycat Dolls, Fantasia Barrino, Punk’d, Cribs, “This Is Why I’m Hot,” Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie adopting African children, the fact that Edward is a half-parody of his own character from Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and refers to the White Bitch in-universe as “Stifler’s Mom,” the fact that Lucy wears a designer velour sweatsuit, and Kanye West’s famous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” ad-lib in response to Hurricane Katrina.
How Did It Do?
Epic Movie grossed $86.9 million against a $20 million budget, ensuring that Seltzer and Friedberg, who had broken into directing with the previous year’s Date Movie, would have work for years to come. So while the film got a 2% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, S&F pumped these out, and the critics hated them ever more: The next one got 1%, and the one after that got 0%, but they kept making money…until they suddenly fell through the bottom, now relegated to micro-budget direct-to-VOD releases.
Next Time: La Vie en Rose