There are two kinds of movie spoofs. The ones like Edgar Wright’s “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” or the “Austin Powers” series, which would be more accurately described as comedic genre homages, because they actually develop a story and characters of their own. And then you’ve got outright parodies like “Airplane!”, “Spaceballs” or “Hot Shots!”, which target specific characters and scenes and put a comic spin on them. We’ve been seeing a lot of the latter lately, starting with “Scary Movie”, which was followed by multiple sequels and spin-offs such as “Date Movie” and “Epic Movie”. These recent spoofs are often pretty lazy, just redoing a bunch of moments from other movies and adding random pop culture references and unimaginative dick and fart jokes.
The latest in line, “Superhero Movie”, is no different, plus it’s treading terrain which has already been exploited; “Meteor Man”, “Blankman” and “Mystery Men”, to name but a few, have all already poked fun at comic book flicks, and director Craig Mazin himself has tried his hand at this already in his first film, 2000’s “The Specials”. Then again, all of those came before the current wave of superhero franchises (“X-Men”, “Spider-Man”, “Fantastic Four”, “Batman Begins”), but that doesn’t change the fact that “Superhero Movie” feels hopelessly tired and pointless.
The unappealing and unfunny Drake Bell stars as Rick Raker, a high school loser who, after a mishap involving a genetically engineered dragonfly, becomes crime fighter Dragonfly. He soon finds his match in The Hourglass (Christopher McDonald aping Willem Dafoe), a super-villain who can suck up people’s life-force and intends to use that power to become immortal. Our intrepid young hero also crosses paths with other super-powered folks such as Professor Xavier (Tracy Morgan), Wolverine (Richard Tillman), Storm (Marisa Lauren), Invisible Woman (Pamela Anderson) and the Human Torch (Simon Rex), but I must warn you that, even though all of them are on the poster, they’re barely in the film – each only appear on screen for a few minutes.
For the vast majority of the running time, “Superhero Movie” contents itself with lifting scene after scene from Sam Raimi’s first “Spider-Man”, often replaying them almost straight, except that Rick Raker’s uncle (Leslie Nielsen) keeps talking about bitches, his aunt (Marion Ross) has a flatulence problem and the girl he loves (Sara Paxton) is a bimbo. There’s honestly not a single laugh in the film, unless the mere mention or sight of shit, piss and puke is hilarious to you. That, or mocking Stephen Hawking, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. Yeah, those geniuses and inspirational leaders had it coming…? I hope you’re proud of yourself, Craig Mazin.