Disaster Movie (2008) (part 1 of 6)

Welcome to the eighth installment (geez, eighth installment? Really?) of Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition! In this special series of recaps, the Agony Booth staff takes a long, unflinching look at the awful movies that got nominated (or should have been nominated) for Razzie Awards in 2009!

Other recaps in the Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition series:

SUMMARY: The writing-directing duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer return to their time-tested formula of actors wandering around aimlessly and spoofing movies that no one in their right mind would ever bother spoofing. Except, it’s not really spoofing, so much as it is shouting out the names of other movies and hoping that alone will generate laughs. Out of all the films Seltzerberg have made that slavishly follow this formula, Disaster Movie is arguably their most recent.

Disaster Movie (2008)

I doubt I need to tell you, the internet-savvy citizen, anything about directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. I’m sure you already know them collectively as “Seltzerberg”, and I’m sure you already know how they abused their tenuous connection to the massively successful Scary Movie to launch their own series of feeble-minded Movie movies.

This series started with Date Movie, continued with Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and now it’s come to this: Disaster Movie. (They weren’t responsible for Not Another Teen Movie and Superhero Movie, but I don’t think they care too much if people get confused.)

I’ve decided the only real way to tell you what it’s like to watch Disaster Movie is to show you, with a Screencap Recap. After all, the movie itself is nothing but a haphazard collection of sight gags. What better way to communicate the experience of watching it than by presenting a haphazard collection of screencaps?

Seltzerberg-bashing may be hip and trendy in the blogosphere these days, but don’t expect much of it from me. Yes, their movies are uninspired, their “scripts” appear to be improvised on the spot, and they have a profoundly lazy sense of humor. But a hundred lazy, uninspired movies get released every year. Why should Seltzerberg bear the brunt of all the film geek rage?

To be honest, I actually laughed more at Disaster Movie than a lot of comedies released last year, including The Hottie & the Nottie, Meet Dave, and What Happens in Vegas. Faint praise, to be sure, but clearly no one should be deluded enough to think that if Seltzerberg suddenly stopped making movies tomorrow, the cineplex would be completely free of cheap, worthless, unfunny comedies slapped together in three weeks.

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Obviously, there’s only one reason this movie generates any laughs at all: It’s the presence of several past and present cast members of MADtv. Yes, MADtv, the sketch comedy show that everyone hates, and yet is currently in its fourteenth season. In another sign of just how awful Seltzerberg are when it comes to comedy, dialogue improvised by the cast of MADtv is actually a step up compared to their usual jokes.

So, I suppose I have to talk about the title, even though with most Seltzerberg films, the title is clearly the last thing Seltzerberg themselves talk about. I really have no idea why they chose to call it Disaster Movie. Disaster movies are certainly a deserving target for spoofing (I seem to recall a little-known film that attempted to do just that). But just as Epic Movie failed to parody any actual epic movies, so too does Disaster Movie fail to spoof any actual disaster movies.

The biggest problem with the concept is that this isn’t 1980. We’ve had maybe five disaster movies in the last ten years, and as Seltzerberg films prove, they have zero interest in spoofing anything that happened more than 16 months ago. So they were left with nearly nothing to spoof that justified the title.

Actually, for Disaster Movie, they took things to the logical next step: Instead of spoofing movies that came out two weeks ago, they decided to spoof movies that hadn’t even come out yet. This becomes painfully obvious when the “jokes” amount to simply recreating moments from the trailers and TV spots.

Ultimately, this movie should have been called 2008 Movie, because it seems the main requirement for being spoofed here was being released in 2008.

Like other Seltzerberg films, Disaster Movie loosely follows the plot of one movie while arbitrarily branching off to spoof other movies with no rhyme or reason. Epic Movie loosely followed the plot of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Meet the Spartans was vaguely based on 300. And Disaster Movie sort-of kind-of follows the plot of Cloverfield.

This makes sense when you think about it: Cloverfield came out in January of 2008. Which means it was probably the only 2008 film Seltzerberg had actually seen before they started writing the script. And by “writing the script”, I mean what most people refer to as “making up shit after filming has already started”.

One last thing before I get to the screencaps: I really have to give a shout-out to Shreveport, Louisiana, where this movie was filmed. It seems tax incentives have led to a burgeoning film industry in the city—it’s been used for other blockbusters like Factory Girl and Blonde Ambition. I guess if there’s one good thing to be said about Seltzerberg, it’s that they didn’t try to pass off Shreveport as Manhattan in this movie. But I’m sure that was mostly a product of laziness.

Caption contributed by Albert The title sequence is just like the title sequence of Armageddon, complete with the fiery globe of the earth revealing the title, and the title breaking up into fiery pieces. Surprisingly, Armageddon actually does qualify as a disaster movie, which is not a statement I’ll be making often during this recap.

Honestly? This bit put a smile on my face. That won’t be happening again for a while.

Caption contributed by Albert Cut to: 10,001 B.C. In case you don’t get the subtle reference, that caption is in the same font as the 10,000 B.C. title. On a related note, the year 10,001 B.C. looked a lot like a wildlife preserve in northern Louisiana.

Caption contributed by Albert A caveman runs away from monstrous noises. Spoiler alert! This is actually the movie’s main character, currently made up to look like a caveman. Specifically, he’s supposed to look like D’Leh. So, obviously, Seltzerberg were right on target here, uncannily predicting the outrageous success of 10,000 B.C.

Caption contributed by Albert The caveman gets squashed by the foot of a woolly mammoth. I was kind of hoping this would be a spoof of Bambi Meets Godzilla, and the closing credits would immediately start rolling. No such luck.

Interestingly, as the mammoth moves on, they don’t show any of its other legs. While I’m sure this is because they could only afford to CGI in the one leg, it does bring on the mental image of a one-legged mammoth roaming the plains. Which is actually much funnier than any of the jokes in this film.

Caption contributed by Albert Turns out the caveman was squashed face first into a pile of manure. How do I know it’s manure? The caveman goes, “Oh shit!” It’s like a loving tribute to the memory of Thomas F. Wilson. What do you mean, he’s still alive?

Caption contributed by Albert The caveman hears more noises and continues running, where he gets clotheslined by… an American Gladiator. Allow me to explain: American Gladiators was a relatively popular show when they were making this movie, way back in the summer of 2008. As of this writing, however, the show has already been canceled. Whoops!

The gladiator is named “Wolf”, is played by MADtv cast member Ike Barinholtz, and has a catchphrase: “You got wolfed!” He explains in tedious detail how he trademarked his catchphrase by filling out forms on “the internet”. In the year 10,001 B.C.

Caption contributed by Albert Tom D’Leh grabs his own Gladiator jousting stick (which is actually called a pugli stick—who knew these things had a name?), and a referee magically materializes and kicks off a sparring match.

The caveman wins the match, but hears more animal noises and continues running. He stops when he hears what he thinks is a “saber tooth”, but is actually…

Caption contributed by Albert Amy Winehouse. With saber tooth fangs. The background music even turns into a ripoff of Amy Winehouse’s standard ripoff of ’60s doo-wop. The caveman says, “Amy Winehouse!” So, I think the question on everybody’s minds is: Is this supposed to be Amy Winehouse?

Caption contributed by Albert Amy Winehouse (played by MADtv cast member Nicole Parker) warns that the human race is doomed to extinction. The caveman asks when this will happen, so she reaches into her tangled bouffant, and pulls out a MacBook to look it up. MacBooks. In the year 10,001 B.C.

Caption contributed by Albert Cue obligatory FaceBook joke. And also, cue the secondary, unintentional joke, which is that Seltzerberg can’t use any actual corporate logos in this movie. So while the characters say “FaceBook”, the MacBook screen says “FaceNook”. Oh, I am so totally stealing the name “FaceNook” and starting my own site.

Caption contributed by Albert I doubt this needs to be said, but I have no idea what Amy Winehouse has to do with cavemen, or why she has fangs. It’s clear that after they hired all the MADtv people, they decided to just build the movie around whatever impressions they could do. So maybe we got off lucky—Alex Borstein could have been available, and this could have been Ms. Swan.

Multi-Part Article: Disaster Movie (2008)
Tag: Razzie Contenders: 2009 Edition
Tag: Seltzerberg Films

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