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Superhero Movie (2008)

  • Review: ** ½ (out of ****)
  • Starring: Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielsen, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross, Ryan Hansen, Keith David, Brent Spiner, Robert Joy, Jeffrey Tambor, Robert Hays, Nicole Sullivan, Sam Cohen, Tracy Morgan, Regina Hall
  • Director: Craig Mazin
  • Screenplay: Craig Mazin
  • Length: 85 min.
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for crude and sexual content, comic violence, drug references and language)

Anytime you are faced with a film spoof, there's a certain degree of open mindedness a viewer must possess when walking into the theater. Superhero Movie does a good job of making it easier on the audience to accept and appreciate its broad-stroke humor.

Drake Bell, known to youngsters everywhere as one of the stars of the TV hit Drake & Josh, takes on the role of Rick Riker, a young photographer who's bitten by a genetically-manipulated dragonfly while with his high school classmates on a science class outing. The plot remarkably follows a straight path along the Spider-Man storyline, diverging periodically to poke fun at other pop culture phenomena.

Rick, who eventually chooses the original name The Dragonfly, goes through great hardship as he idiotically attempts to thwart a super villain named Hourglass. As in the first Spider-Man, the real identity of the villain is a terminally ill industrialist played by Christopher McDonald. He has devised a machine that will keep him forever young, but requires him to suck the life out of everyone in the room.

That metaphor alone may describe best this type of movie. While it isn't the cream of the cinematic crop, it's a good diversion. It's a time waster that, if you're up on your modern pop culture (largely based on television commercials like Alltel and online social communities like My Space and Facebook). For those who miss the days of Airplane! and The Naked Gun, this film is a far cry and an emotional zapper for those fans. However, anyone who has found themselves giggling for apparently no reason at the Scary Movie franchise should find enough in this to be satisfied.

Matter of fact, in comparison to last year's pre-pubescent waste of time Epic Movie, Superhero Movie is nearly a masterpiece. It also does what Meet the Spartans attempted to do earlier this year a little better. Both focused more closely on a single storyline with random tangents thrown in for fun, but Superhero Movie doesn't sit too long on all of its jokes. The lone exception is a sprinkler scene near the end of the film, which takes a good two or three minutes to finally resolve.

The film lacks any pivotal performances. Even Leslie Nielsen, who is normally the funniest thing about most of these parodies, falls a little flat. It's not to say that the actors are generally bad. Bell has a good sense of comic timing, but his performance is still lacking in significant development, thanks to writer-director Craig Mazin.

In the end, Superhero Movie gives us hope that the future of the Genre Movie franchise could be filled with more pleasant trips to the theater, not severely disappointing ones like Epic Movie. Still, in comparison to the Scary Movie series, Superhero Movie is just a poseur in spandex.