"Disaster Movie" less funny than real ones

Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:51pm EDT
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By Stephen Farber

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The title is something of a misnomer. "Disaster Movie," from the people who helped to concoct "Scary Movie," "Date Movie" and "Meet the Spartans," sounds as if it is going to send up such opuses as "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Earthquake."

Although there is a calamity (never clearly defined) threatening Earth in "Disaster Movie," the film from writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer doesn't pay much attention to all the hoary tropes of the world-in-jeopardy genre. Most of the gags actually are directed at such recent nondisaster movies as "No Country for Old Men," "Juno" and "Sex and the City," with swipes at such pop stars as Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse.

No one expects sophisticated wit from this type of movie, but would it be too much to ask for more than a chuckle every 10 minutes? The Lionsgate film eked out an estimated $6.2 million at the weekend box office in North America, ranked at N. 7, and will be forgotten as soon as the kids are back in school.

Our hero, Will (Matt Lanter), wakes up from a nightmare predicting the end of the world. At his 16th birthday party, which he is holding even though he's 25, his dream begins to come true as a massive earthquake shakes the hall. Soon he and his pals are dodging meteors and flying cows while tripping over inept plot developments and lame dialogue.

The cast is game. Lanter is likable and seems as if he might have a future beyond grade-Z movies. Stand-up comic Gary "G-Thang" Johnson also supplies energy as Will's buddy. The girls -- Vanessa Minnillo, Nicole Parker and Kim Kardashian -- have the requisite physical attributes but fewer discernible acting skills.

A plethora of raunchy gags strain the PG-13 rating. As in other movies aimed at teens, there is a lot of gay-oriented humor, which I leave to psychoanalysts to explain. Special effects are fairly primitive, though the end credits go on almost as long as those for "The Dark Knight." One wonders how so many people could have toiled to produce so little.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

<p>Matt Lanter poses at the U.S. premiere of the new animated film "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" in Hollywood, California August 10, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>