The ‘Movie’ actually wasn’t terrible!

By Gus Bode

“Superhero Movie”

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald


Directed by Craig Mazin

Run time: 85 minutes

What is this? Could it be? A spoof movie that isn’t entirely terrible? Surely you jest!

To be fair, “Superhero Movie” is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination. It still falls victim to many of the same traps the most recent crop of spoof movies fall into. However, it does something that movies, such as “Meet the Spartans” failed to do. It makes the audience laugh.

The one decision writer and director Craig Mazin makes in order for the film to work is that the film actually has a plot and a specific set of films it’s parodying, as opposed to just making fun of every event in pop culture from the last year or so. The film follows the plot of “Spider-Man” but elements of “Batman” and “X-Men” are thrown into the mix.

So we follow high school student Rick Riker (Drake Bell) as he is bitten by a mutated dragonfly and then gains its powers, which is pretty much limited to sticky hands. He wishes to win the love of neighbor Jill Johnson (Sara Paxton) but alas, a supervillain is in the neighborhood. That would be Lou Landers, aka Hourglass (Christopher McDonald) who, after a terrible accident, must absorb the life force of millions of people in order to gain immortality. It’s up to Dragonfly to save the day and get the girl and so on and so forth.

The film makes many of the same mistakes other spoof movies have made, in that it thinks making a reference to something in pop culture is the same thing as telling a joke about it. MySpace, Facebook and Fave 5 get name-dropped, but none of them are used in the service of an actually funny joke. Not to mention that such references hopelessly date the film.


Some of the jokes are just tired and dated (bits about the Microsoft Word paper clip and Enron fall flat) and a couple of jokes are outright stolen from other movies (a bit about betting on death is copied, almost verbatim, from the 1998 film “Dirty Work”).

The movie works best when it’s either using bizarre throwaway gags (a street sign with a dirty word on it, an extended Stephen Hawking joke) or parodying some of the more subtle aspects of the genre. Why do so many superheroes stand on tall buildings and stare at cities pensively?

Anyone older than the age of 12 is likely to find only light laughter in the film, since no one else is likely to laugh at what is certainly one of the longest fart jokes in cinematic history. But after sitting through the garbage spoofs that have littered the landscape for so long, light laughter is a breath of fresh air for the genre.

It helps that the film has genuine acting talent to back it up. Bell and Paxton don’t have much to do, but McDonald completely sells his role as the villain, clearly having the most fun of anyone in the movie. Marion Ross and Leslie Nielsen show up as Rick’s aunt and uncle for a few funny scenes, and in a bizarre cameo, Jeffrey Tambor plays a completely incompetent doctor.

Once again, we have a spoof movie that misses a lot of pretty obvious targets in order to make references to Britney Spears and whatnot. It’s difficult to recommend the movie on the basis of a few laughs alone, but if you’re desperate for comedy, this is a sufficient way to kill 90 minutes.

Wes Lawson can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].