Epic Movie draws on landmark films of the last three years, including The Chronicles of Narnia, Tim Burton's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Da Vinci Code. Four seemingly unrelated orphans win golden tickets for an epic adventure that takes them from Wonka's factory, through a wardrobe and into the land of Narnia. There, the orphans must ready themselves to fight with Aslo (Fred Willard), a half-lion, against The White Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge), and fulfill a prophecy that sees them as future rulers of the land.
Review by Joel Meares:
Thankfully, at 90 minutes, Epic Movie is anything but epic. Unfortunately, there is little else to be thankful for in Friedman and Seltzer's latest and most meagre lampoon. This series of spoof movies, which began just shy of promisingly with Scary Movie, has become more rote and tired with each successive and inexplicably successful new entry. It seems the filmmakers have forgotten the purpose and technique of satirical parody. It is not merely to re-shoot a scene from a famous film with different actors, which is the order of the day here. Nor is it to insert a penis or an MTV reference into the frame every couple of minutes. Satire should have something to say and should be expressed both humorously and pointedly. This film is flat and its filmmakers seem speechless.
Witness the Snakes on a Plane bit. A fuselage-full of passengers shriek and scamper when snakes fall from the roof and crawl from the floor. Samuel L. Jackson says something about "God damn snakes on a God damn plane". He repeats the line, explaining that it is what internet bloggers have asked him to do. Less "Ha!" than "Huh?", one is left looking for the funny in the scene. Admittedly, it takes a shot at survey-dictated filmmaking; but it only had me wishing this film had been test-screened into oblivion before its release. Apart from being unforgivably unfunny, its bitty parodies are frequently tamer than their source. After all, Jackson goes a bit further than, "God damn", in the real Snakes on a Plane.
The film is enthusiastically played by most of the cast. Coolidge gets a chuckle here and there, but it has more to do with the signature contortions of her face than the script. Adam Campbell as orphan Peter, an X-man with tiny chicken wings, shows signs he might have a career beyond this fodder (he starred in Date Movie too). However, it is disappointing to see Jayma Mays, a revelation in Red Eye as an exasperated hotel receptionist, doing a poor man's Anna Faris doing an even poorer man's Neve Campbell. The cameos are inconsistent, and the stronger ones, Crispin Glover as Willy Wonka and David Carradine as the Louvre curator, are wasted in bizarre dance numbers. Hopefully, Friedman and Seltzer will soon run out of genres.
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EPIC MOVIE (M)
CAST: Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jayma Mays, Faune A. Chambers, Crispin Glover
PRODUCER: Paul Schiff
DIRECTOR: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
SCRIPT: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shawn Maurer
EDITOR: Peck Prior
MUSIC: Ed Shearmur
PRODUCTION DESIGN: William A. Elliott
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 25, 2007