There really isn’t much of a point in reviewing a spoof flick like Superhero Movie, which is probably why studios don’t offer advance screenings to critics most of the time. At one time parodies were well crafted and pointed out the flaws and foibles of a genre. Now screenwriters are content to take the entire story from one movie, add in a bunch of body humor jokes, and call it a day. If you’ve liked the spoof movies that came before, you’ll probably get your yuks from Superhero Movie, otherwise it’s best to just steer clear.
Ninety percent of Superhero Movie comes from the Spider-Man movie. Seriously, almost the whole focus is a five-year old superhero flick? The spoof doesn’t even touch on the two sequels, which is a shame; the third chapter seems ripe for the spoofing. Instead this is pure Spider-Man, with one brief scene giving the main character, Rick Riker, the background of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, and another brief sequence in an X-Men mansion setting. Towards the end of the picture, when the climax of Spider-Man didn’t work for Superhero Movie (I’m betting it was too costly to reproduce), the story shifts to something almost move for move like producer David Zucker’s The Naked Gun, right down to sending a handicapped figure barreling over a ledge. I don’t understand why writer/director Craig Mazin approached this with such a limited focus, when there are tons of superhero movies out there, many of which deserve this kind of treatment.
In the spoof, Drake Bell plays Rick Riker. It didn’t surprise me to see that Bell spent time working with Amanda Bynes, since his similarly overdone reactions provide many of the movie’s punchlines. Like Peter Parker, Rick is the school geek, a photographer for the paper, and in love with an unattainable beauty, here played by Sara Paxton who does one hell of a Kirsten Dunst impersonation. Instead of a spider, Rick is bitten by a genetically enhanced dragonfly, turning him into a superhero and forcing him to learn that with great power comes a lot of jokes about bodily functions, but that’s fine because one day he’ll learn to embrace his power and fly. If you’ve seen Spider-Man, you know how that works out for him.
Based on the ad campaign I could tell going in that there would be a great deal of scatological humor, so I figured I’d give a count of how many jokes the movie crammed into its merciful short running time that dealt with body waste, sex organs, or the other staples of “dick and fart joke” movies. I lost count when, five minutes in, Riker interacts with a compound that makes all the nearby animals (in a science lab) horny for him. Needless to say, that set the tempo for the rest of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against dick and fart jokes, when they’re part of something bigger, like the way Kevin Smith or Judd Apatow use them. When they provide the sole intent of the movie, I have to wonder if there’s something better that can be done with that time.
As I said at the start, there’s really nothing I can say here that will make you decide whether you want to see Superhero Movie or not. If you liked the Scary Movie flicks than this is probably right up your alley, since Mazin is responsible for half of that franchise. Just know going in that this isn’t some clever parody of the flood of superhero movies we’ve seen in the past few years. It’s Spider-Man with dick and fart jokes. If you expect more from your comedy, then there’s no need to unmask this Superhero.