Superhero Movie
dir-scr Craig Mazin
with Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielsen, Marion Ross, Brent Spiner, Kevin Hart, Robert Hays, Pamela Anderson, Dan Castellaneta, Tracy Morgan, Craig Bierko
release US 28.Mar.08, UK 6.Jun.08
08/UK Dimension 1h25
Superhero Movie
Just a thought: Bell and Paxton

mcdonald nielsen anderson
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Superhero Movie The guys behind Scary Movies 3 and 4 develop a spin-off that's miles funnier than the competition's spin-off (ie, Meet the Spartans, by the guys behind Scary Movies 1 and 2). That's not to say it's hysterical, but there are enough good jokes to keep us chuckling.

Dorky teen Rick (Bell), who's being raised by an aunt and uncle (Ross and Neilsen), is bitten by a genetically-altered dragonfly and develops freaky superpowers, which he decides to use to help people. And also to get the school hottie (Paxton). But at the same time, a villainous megalomaniac (McDonald) works with a scientist (Spiner) to develop an alter-ego called The Hourglass, who threatens to suck the life out of everyone in town. Can Rick master his powers in time to save the city?

In true Zucker style, the film is overloaded with every sort of gag. Sure, far fewer hit the target than back in their Airplane/Naked Gun heyday, but there's just enough gleeful silliness scattered loosely through the film. And the filmmakers mercifully opt for general idiocy rather than lame pop-culture references. On the other hand, the yawn-inducing plot is directly lifted from Spider-man, and the utterly random jabs at X-men and Fantastic 4 never go anywhere.

As usual, the cast is likeable and up for anything, including making themselves look like complete morons. Some of the celebrity parodies are stretched thinly (Miles Fisher as Tom Cruise), while others are overused (Robert Joy as Stephen Hawking). Although a lookalike-studded awards ceremony almost achieves the same sublime stupidity as the Queen's reception in The Naked Gun. But why has it become de rigueur for these films to inexplicably delete several scenes and then turn them into a clip montage during the closing credits?

Frankly, there's a place for movies that have an eye for parody and find comedy in farts, face-smacking and humping dogs. The trick is to let the writers do a second draft and polish up the jokes, references and storylines before the cameras start rolling. There's a lot of potential here, but it's such rushed and lazy filmmaking that it feels like a missed opportunity. Especially in a year of Iron Man, Batman, Hulk and Hellboy franchises.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, violence 12.May.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall