Cast: Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Tony Cox
Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
SUNY Purchase '05
"I don't compromise my values and I don't compromise my work. I won't give in." -Michael Moore
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
This critic feels it's obvious to begin something shamelessly clichéd with a cliché itself, which is, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."Â And Jason Friedberg and Aaron Setzer aren't your typical screenwriters or filmmakers. They are purveyors of art in the greatest sense of the word (note the sarcasm).
Their artistic philosophy (God willing, there is one) seems to be to take all that is conventional and clichéd and reshape it into lazily warped cinematic excrement of their own design. If their previous work Date Movie was to smear their brand of artistic doo-doo over romantic comedy, then they have created their piece de resistance, an ultimate f*** you to big-budget Hollywood, aptly titled Epic Movie, now available on DVD.
Four orphans, Lucy (Jayma Mays), Peter (Adam Campbell), Edward (Kal Penn), and Susan (Faune A. Chambers) each receive a golden ticket into a certain chocolate factory, operated by the eccentric Willy, played by the equally eccentric Crispin Glover.
Soon enough, the foursome realize that the cannibalistic Willy plans to turn them into candy. Pursued by the possibly sadomasochistic albino monk Silas (David Blatley), they are soon led inside a mysterious wardrobe into a magical kingdom known as Gnarnia.
The orphans soon meet up with the talking Harry Beaver (Katt Williams), who tell them they are chosen ones. They must now embark on a quest to save Gnarnia from the tyrannical White Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge) and restore the hairy mane Aslo (Fred Williard) to the throne.
If taste in art is subjective, Friedberg and Setzer have truly managed to create an undeniable artistic tour-de-force and marker on pop culture history in 2000s America. This has nothing to do with merit in the film, which there is hardly any, but as a sad social commentary reflective of the nearly 5,000,000 knucklehead Americans who actually paid their $10 to see this in a movie theatre in the first place.
While I run the risk of giving The Dung-Namic Duo (and I say this with love) too much credit, they created the ultimate punk-out to their discriminating young (and possibly heavily medicated) audience. They show that rather than create something insightful, intelligent, or original to their audience, just give the people what they want, or so the filmmakers think.
Splice together what they've already seen, magnify it to obscenely vulgar proportions, and create a barely-stitched-together, incoherent, brainless, and downright unfunny final product. Then for the sheer hell of it, pepper it with enough bells and whistles like gorgeous, scantily-clad hot girls, random pop songs, and all other things nonsensical, yet ADD-worthy.
The brightest aspect of Epic Movie is that quite a few of the actors in it, particularly Crispin Glover, Kal Penn, Jennifer Coolidge, and Fred Williard, have a great enough time with the sheer madness of the proceedings that they occasionally elevate this movie to actually being
Half the time, the movies chosen in tandem with the use of seemingly disparate references like MySpace and MTV shows this time out occasionally reveal unintentional flashes of brilliance worthy of the coveted "so bad, it's good"Â category. What totally kills much of this is the sheer, unadulterated randomness of some of the would-be "epic"Â films referenced and "parodied."Â
The DVD's picture quality is in the 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, with the sound quality in Dolby Digital Surround 5.1. As with Date Movie, the duo have outdone themselves and have provided their shamelessly awful film with special features worthy of such.
The first is an audio commentary provided by screenwriters/directors/tastemakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Setzer. The commentary is merely useful as another cheap gimmick just in case you actually get bored with the film after the fifth time viewing it as it's nothing but incoherent and seemingly stoned-out rambling.
An admittedly interesting feature is an audio option known as Breaking Wind: An Epic Journey Into The Sounds Of Epic Movie. Basically, it's an audio gimmick where you can watch the movie, while doubling your pleasure with the serene sounds of repeated belching and farting. There's nothing more well-appropriated for dung masqueraded as film than the sound of more crap.
For all the men out there, another exciting feature is How Gratuitous. When activated, during rudimentary points of the movie, a Harry Beaver icon appears. When you click on it, you get to see extra footage of the more scantily-clad female cast that appears in the film.
There are several rather mocking featurettes, running the gamut from Everyone Loves Beaver: Epic Hookups to Making The Video: Pirate Day to Epic Porn: What Would Your Porno Movie Be Called? to What Makes Aslo So Irresistible? to Hot Or Not: Character Turn On's And Turn Off's. The featurettes are hardly any more funny than the movie, but at least the cast seem spirited enough in going along with the joke.
Also included are two behind-the-scenes promos for the film that originally appeared on the Fox Movie Channel, both of them interviewing Fred Williard. Making The Spoof goes into Williard talking about the film, where he's occasionally at the most straight any of the special features have been, while In Character has the actor going into a jokey and rather incoherent tangent.
Also included are outtakes, which are occasionally funny, but are merely noteworthy for the fact that the cast seemed to have had a good time during filming. There's also an alternate ending that is much more creative, but seems to run on too long.
Rounding out the special features is Die Libre, a short film from Adolpho Navarro that won the film's Viral Video Contest. While
All in all, while films like Pink Flamingos or Freddy Got Fingered have claimed as art due to actually having something to say underneath the sheer madness of it all, Epic Movie is simply the most crowd-pleasing and mass-produced in the realm of all things craptacular. However, the joke is on its hooligan filmmakers, as well as the audience they purport to serve the interests of as it reveals the folly of unfunny, lowest-common-denominator entertainment in 2000's pop culture at its pathetic heights.
Most people should do society a favor and skip this braindead, manipulative trash, for it is the new standard of crap filmmaking 101. However, if you are smart enough to watch this stoned, feel free to raise my movie grade a letter or two higher, rent the DVD, and a good time will be had by all!
Movie Grade: F
Special Features Grade: D
Overall Grade: D