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Dustin Putman

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Disaster Movie  (2008)
Zero Stars
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.
Cast: Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Gary 'G. Thang' Johnson, Nicole Parker, Crista Flanagan, Kim Kardashian, Ike Barinholtz, Carmen Electra, Tony Cox, Tad Hilgenbrink, Nick Steele, John Di Domenico, Jason Boegh.
2008 – 90 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, language, drug references, and violence).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, August 29, 2008.
About forty minutes into "Disaster Movie," shortly after Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus (Crista Flanagan) got hit by a meteor but still before the scene where Disney princess Giselle (Nicole Parker) transformed into a buff black man and "turned this shit out" in a "Step Up 2 the Streets" parody, an epiphany hit me: I, like all living things on this earth, will one day die. Usually thoughts of this nature rustle up unsettling feelings of fear and maybe a little critical self-reflection in a person, myself included. For the first time, however, the mere thought of imminent death seemed like a sweet, luxurious respite in comparison to the untold-in-number miseries being endured in that theater. Suddenly I was transformed, no longer afraid of my ultimate fate. For that (and only that), "Disaster Movie" deserves my gratitude.

For everything else, "Disaster Movie" once and for all proves that personal, creative, financial and moral integrity are nonexistent within today's Hollywood studio system. There simply is no other valid explanation for its existence, or the continued hiring of talentless filmmaking leeches Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Friedberg and Seltzer could be nice guys in real life—I hasten to add that I have no desire in ever meeting them—but as so-called writer-directors, they are cretins whose sensibilities never rise above that of a messily overflowing sewer and whose intelligence borders between that of a three-eyed inbred sheep's and a human vegetable. They do not make films; they make inconceivable, incomprehensible freak shows as unimaginably inept on every level as anything else being released to multiplexes in the twenty-first century. With 2007's "Epic Movie," 2008's "Meet the Spartans," and now "Disaster Movie" (two in the same year? God help us!), Uwe Boll has been stripped of his title as modern cinema's worst working director.

Following a dream sequence set in 10,001 B.C. in which the dreadlocked Will (Matt Lanter) is accosted by a tequila-swilling, saber-toothed Amy Winehouse and belched upon for a solid minute and a half (are we laughing yet?), a present-day Will awakes to his twenty-fifth birthday and throws a party in his own honor. The "High School Musical" number is interrupted when word comes that the city is being pummeled by falling meteors. Desperate to reach safety, Will, pregnant Juney (Crista Flanagan), token black guy Calvin (Gary 'G-Thang' Johnson), and pretty Lisa (Kim Kardashian) take to the streets in pure "Cloverfield" fashion. Well, 'street' is more like it, since the bulk of the film appears to have been shot on the same nondescript strip of street in someone's paved backyard. Eventually meeting up with a fairy princess who merrily reveals that she is really just a drug-addicted prostitute, Will and the rest of the gang brave the elements as they set out to reach the Museum of Natural History and save his wounded and entrapped girlfriend Amy (Vanessa Minnillo).

"Disaster Movie" has the barest minimum of a plot. That would be fine if it did what a spoof was supposed to do, but it doesn't. There isn't a single funny moment during its 70-minute running time, which is followed by a filler parody of Sarah Silverman's "I'm F***ing Matt Damon" music video, end credits, extraneously rancid bloopers, and then more credits. There are no witty quips (Juney prides herself on these, but she's like the black sheep sister of Juno who only thinks she's clever), no imaginative double-entendres or one-liners, no detectable physical comedy (a wrestling match between Kim Kardashian and Carmen Electra goes on for nearly five minutes and is so unsuccessful that it doesn't even seem to be trying for laughs), and no point to any of it.

Directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg merely line up a series of pop cultural references, state out loud what each one is ("Dr. Phil here," an impersonator looking little like Dr. Phil says as he comes onscreen; "Amy Winehouse?!" Will disbelieving says when Amy Winehouse shows up; "Look, it's Hancock!" one of the group yell when they see a Will Smith double lying on a bench), and then run out of material before anything is done with them. A rush job primarily parodying this summer's blockbusters (and unexpected box-office failures, hence the "Speed Racer" and "The Love Guru" material) and using only their trailers to go by, Seltzer and Friedberg are at a dire loss for what lampooning subjects means. To just remake scenes and shots from other movies without adequately sending them up or satirizing them supremely misses the entire point of what a parody is supposed to be. Seltzer and Friedberg consistently look to be in on a joke that no one else understands, let alone finds amusing.

Topping off this monstrosity is bad acting by "MAD TV" alums, sex tarts, and no-names; special effects as chintzy as those typically seen in a zero-budgeted student film; a production design made of styrofoam and plaster; make-up consisting of wigs where the glue is showing on the people's foreheads; cinematography that is laughable; abysmal editing with the cohesion of a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle still in its cardboard box; a screenplay that more closely resembles swirly doodles on a sheet of paper; and puppet versions of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" who savagely attack the protagonists for five minutes so excruciating that the act of getting one's eyes torn out by the claws of an agitated tiger starts to become a more enticing option. When socialite Kim Kardashian, in an acting debut she ought to be more embarrassed of than her leaked sex tape, receives a close-up midway through and blatantly yawns on camera, it speaks far louder than my words ever could. "Disaster Movie," which only half-heartedly recalls literal disaster movies but is a pure disaster all the same, is as depressing and empty a cinematic experience as any other picture this year or last (or maybe the whole decade). To label it as simply unfunny or vacuous or ugly or boring would be a compliment.
© 2008 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman