New parody film ‘Epic Movie’ insults audience

Andrew Gaug

There’s a scene in Mike Judge’s latest movie, Idiocracy, where a man travels hundreds of years into the future only to find the human race has been dumbed down so much that the highest-grossing movie of all time is titled Ass and contains nothing but a pair of butt cheeks on-screen passing gas while the audience laughs hysterically.

Though that was satire, it seems like it’s not too far off. A few months ago I saw the preview for Epic Movie and was almost stunned at how stupid the movie looked, as well as how it’s putting the nail into the coffin of the spoof genre. There were no laughs from anyone in the crowded theater — even a few jokes from Code Name: The Cleaner got more chuckles. As it ran through its laundry list of movies it makes fun of, some are epics, like Chronicles of Narnia and X-Men, but some wouldn’t even be associated with the word, such as Nacho Libre and Borat.

Much like the characters in Idiocracy, who are entertained by a show called “Ow! My Balls!” the makers of Epic Movie, also responsible for 2006’s abominable Date Movie, clearly think America is going to fall for the usual slapstick of people being hit in every area of their bodies with foreign objects. No one would drop money to see this, right?

Opening numbers: No. 1 at the box office with $19.2 million in total ticket sales.

I apparently underestimated the viewing public.

It’s not like I have anything against a stupid, funny movie, but Epic Movie is just stupid. Look to the great spoof movies of the ’80s such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Both were parodies of their respective genres — disaster movies and police dramas — but they made fun of the many clich‚s that came along with it, it wasn’t a bunch of topical jokes that seemed to be lifted from watching months and months of VH1.

You can still put in either movie today and have a good laugh because the jokes still translate and have an actual story, not a thread to string along bad joke after bad joke. No one in a few years will get a Nacho Libre or Snakes on a Plane joke. They will probably be just as confused as to why the directors bothered to include a Borat joke, when Borat itself is both a comedy and, ironically, a spoof of the ignorance of American society.

But that seems to be the trend of the latest slew of spoof movies — throw in a few pop-culture jokes that will make people feel special because they “get it” ( i.e. Paris Hilton, “Saturday Night Live’s” “Lazy Sunday”), mix it with movies that have been popular in the past few years (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pirates of the Caribbean) and replace satire and wit with lots of people being hit by stuff and you have what passes today as parody.

It’s not that all current parodies got it wrong. The original Scary Movie was an actual spoof of scary movies that came out just in time — when the horror genre was dying down. Not Another Teen Movie also had the right idea by mixing a few pop culture references with clich‚s of the many teen movies in the past 20 years. When they did do a take-off on a film, it’s actually a popular film that’s remembered from years ago, not something that was released within the last year.

Sadly, the producers of this film don’t trust audiences remembering anything before 2004.

No doubt this will cause more terrible spoofs from the same “two out of the six” writers of Scary Movie, who actually only wrote a few jokes for the film, as they’ve seemed to tap the audience that likes to be treated like it’s 5 again. But there’s hope that maybe somebody will wake up and refresh the genre with humor and taste.

Without it, Mike Judge may have been right — it may not be too soon before we see Ow! My Balls!: The Movie.

Contact ALL assistant editor Andrew Gaug at [email protected].