'Superhero' spoof hits mark
Finally, a parody movie that gets it - unapologetically dumb, sophomoric, shallow, but with a story and a rapid-fire string of jokes that make you laugh in spite of yourself.
The likes of the mind-numbingly awful "Meet the Spartans" had driven down expectations that we could ever find a spoof funny again.
I sure didn't expect much of "Superhero Movie." How do you smartly make fun of the endless genre of flicks that are already inherently stupid in and of themselves?
Lo and behold, "Superhero" pulls it off, using its premise to assault all manner of things pop cultural. The send-up of Tom Cruise insanity with a canny look-alike alone is worth blowing off the hour and a half.
Spanking the all-too-serious "Spider-Man" films with abandon, Superhero Movie exposes the birth of The Dragonfly, a nerdy, lovesick kid (Drake Bell) who gains superpowers after being bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly. Our hero battles the villainous Hourglass (veteran Christopher McDonald) and pursues his love interest, the babelicious Sara Paxton.
The TV previews rely on the scene where Dragonfly pushes an old lady out of the path of a speeding truck, only to knock her into a wood-chipper.
But I like the gag where the 'Fly is trying to beat out flames on another character, who urges the hero to "use a fire extinguisher." Sooooo, he starts beating him with a fire extinguisher.
And for fart scene afficianados, the lady who once playeed "Mrs. C" on "Happy Days" rips off the best and longest flatulence example I have ever witnessed outside Taco John's.
The master of the spoof movie, Leslie Nielson, contributes some good stuff, and Tracy Morgan adds yucks as an adulterous professor, in his best role since "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."
Since moviegoers have been assaulted by greedy cinematic versions of every old comic book Hollywood could think of, maybe the fact that the trend is being turned into satire is a welcome sign that it is about over.
"Superhero Movie" is filled with locker-room type humor to appeal to the junior high punk in all of us, and makes a lot of pop references that might not make sense to those who don't happen to be internet-addicted techno-geeks, but it moves along so snappily that if one joke falls flat for you, another will be along pronto.
Bell, best known to viewers of Nickelodion, shows some charisma on screen, and fits the loveable loser role affably enough.
This one might not be up there with the greatest of the spoof genre - Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Airplane, Naked Gun, This is Spidal Tap - but it's a match for the better of the newer entries in this field, ala Scary Movie and Austin Powers.
It's a bit dirty for younger viewers, and too silly for the highbrows, but everyone else should get several good laughs.
* "Superhero Movie," now showing in the area. Rated PG for crude humor. Run time 85 minutes. Our score: 3 stars out of 5.