May 25, 2010
Epic Movie (2007) (part 2 of 11)
Lucy wanders off past a picture of a Mexican mission, which dissolves into a shot of a real Mexican mission. Welcome to Set Piece #2. The camera pans down a long table of eight year old boys waiting for their supper. While Roscoe tells us that our second orphan, Edward, is to be found here, the pan ends on a close-up of Kal Penn. He’s easily twenty years older than the rest and, obviously, has no place living in an orphanage. Visual joke: told.
A Jack Black lookalike is serving plates of beans to the children. Or, at least, he’s a Jack Black lookalike lookalike. So it seems we’ve embarked upon our Nacho Libre segment. Honestly, why? Should a satire really be satirizing other satires? It’s not as if Jack Black takes himself deadly seriously, and needs to be knocked down a peg. He’s already down a peg. On a peg that he hammered in there himself. Are we really supposed to cheer the deconstruction of Jack fracking Black? The best that the writers can hope for here is that we go, “Oh, Nacho Libre. I remember that.”
Oh, Nacho Libre. I remember that. Can we move on?
(In other news, all my cursing in this recap will be in Sci Fi-ese. Look forward to me proclaiming something to be dren.)
So, this guy doing this Jack Black impression jumps up in front of the monks and children. He rips off his robe and reveals a wrestling outfit. If you think this came out of nowhere, it did. He sings, “Nachoooooooo!” And then he… he… grabs a bag of product-placed chips and finishes, “…cheese flavored Doritos are delicious!” So, if you’re keeping track, I now have more respect for Nestle, and much, much less for PepsiCo.
And then things get bizarre. Bizarre-er, I mean. Tenacious Z rips open the bag, crushes up some chips, and sneezes them onto Kal Penn. Strangely, Penn gets hit with this green glop that in no way resembles crushed up corn chips. So, let this be a good lesson for future filmmakers: make sure to lock up your product placements before you begin principal photography.
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Kal Penn declares that he’s sick of this, and he’s going to become a wrestler. So, he’s sort of inhabiting the Nacho Libre role himself, even though the Nacho Libre guy is still standing there. It is as confusing as it sounds. Also, the green mush is completely gone because, apparently, the writers think this is a cartoon.
For no logical reason, Nacho calls on one of the other children to wrestle Kal. This three-and-a-half foot tall kid dons a 1950s Mexican wrestler’s mask and comes at him. If you selected “the young child kicks the hezmata out of our hero”, give yourself two points. If you selected, “at one point, he breaks Kal Penn’s arm so severely that the bone sticks out”, drink a shot of ether.
Oh, and there’s an obvious reason the kid is wearing a mask: He’s suddenly turned into a dwarf stuntman in a wrestling mask. And there’s nothing in the film to lead me to believe that the joke here is the clear fakery. On the very off chance that it is, I’m still giving it to Wet, Hot American Summer.
This may be a good time to mention that I personally believe Kal Penn is the bravest man in Hollywood. This is because (despite being a minority in a profession with unimaginable competition) he absolutely, steadfastly, and almost religiously refuses to act. Yes, he’ll read his lines for a steadily increasing price, but he’ll be damned if he’s going to demonstrate any emotion while doing so. As such, even though his character’s name here is Edward, I’ll be calling him Kal Penn. And he should be very glad I’m not calling him Kumar—a favor, by the way, that the movie shall not grant him.
The five monks supervising the children have done nothing to stop any of this. In fact, one monk is blithely opening a Willy Bar. At the same moment, the midget/child propels Kal down the table, through a stained glass window and out into blue skies. Good thing he grabbed that golden ticket out of the monk’s hand on his way out. That’s much more interesting than him actually finding the ticket on his own. But, in any case, it gets us out of this inane segment and drops us into…
…an airplane. We’re told that orphan Susan is on her way to Namibia to meet her new, adoptive parents. Susan is, of course, way too old to be adopted by anyone, and the actress, Faune Chambers, was thirty when the movie was shot. Basically, it’s the same joke they just did with Kal Penn.
Susan picks up a magazine to lovingly admire her adoptive parents. And they’re Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. God in heaven, is there a universe where that joke was still funny past the very first moment someone thought of it?
As you may already know, this movie is just a retelling of Chronicles of Narnia with a few scattered scenes from other blockbusters casually tossed in. So here, I originally assumed that Namibia was going to stand in for Narnia. It could have been pretty funny if the characters walked around the real country of Namibia, thinking it was the magical land of Narnia. Apparently, I have a better imagination than the writers, because nothing like that happens in the movie.
But if it doesn’t, and if she’s supposed to be adopted from an African nation by famous white movie stars, why is she going to Namibia and not coming from Namibia? You make your guess; I’m gonna stick with filmmaker incompetence.
A stewardess asks Susan if she’d like a drink. The stewardess then pours her a big glass full of snakes, letting us know which concentric circle of hell this is. Yes, it’s Snakes on a Plane Hell. Susan doesn’t notice the snake, but several have quickly wrapped themselves around her legs. I looked it up, and the first snake was a scarlet kingsnake, which is a non-venomous mimic of the poisonous coral snake. So, even their snake lookalikes suck.
Susan finally screams, and it’s only at this point that everybody on the plane panics as they realize snakes are everywhere. I mean, they’re all over the plane. The snakes are literally sitting on people’s shoulders. The passengers didn’t notice this until Susan alerted them? Maybe they all assumed they were in a Lost parody instead, and they were busy working on their backstories.
Meanwhile, the shots of panic are similar to the shots of panic in Airplane! except, you know, not funny. One rubber snake is hanging off a guy’s nose, and another one is biting a man’s crotch. Susan punches one. A woman has a snake attached to each of her nipples (over her shirt, since this is PG-13, after all).
And now, it’s my duty to report that something funny almost happens. A Samuel L. Jackson lookalike comes in and declares, “I’ve had it with these goddamned snakes on this goddamned plane!” Susan asks him for help. He just stands there and repeats, “I’ve had it with these goddamned snakes on this goddamned plane!” She begs again and he answers, “I’ve had it with these goddamned snakes on this goddamned plane!” He then overshares, “Internet bloggers love it when I say I’ve had it with these goddamned snakes on this goddamned plane!” For the love of the flying spaghetti monster, don’t explain the joke!
Also, as anybody who was alive on August 18, 2006 knows, the quote was not “goddamned”. The word, if Starbuck had said it, would be “motherfracking”. But Regency wanted to deliver a PG-13 picture for all the children of the world (or the ones between 13 and 17, in any case). So this time corporate incompetence, and not artistic incompetence, killed the joke. However, if you’re lucky enough to be watching the unrated DVD, you’ll see the artists’ true vision brought to glorious motherfracking life.
The nightmare continues as our lookalike informs us, “Bitch, I’m always yelling. I’m Samuel goddamned Jackson.” First of all, no, you’re not actually yelling here. Second of all, stop explaining the joke! Also, Snakes on a Plane: Not. An. Epic.
Samuel then picks Susan up and throws her out of the airplane, for reasons known entirely to himself.
Wait a minute, Susan didn’t get her golden ticket!
Ah, this is easily rectified: On a sidewalk, there’s a Paris Hilton lookalike, complete with a little dog in her purse. She says, apropos of nothing, “I’m so hot.” Then she dies as Susan lands on her. In the purse of the dead woman is a Willy Bar, and this time, the character doesn’t even have to unwrap the candy bar—the golden ticket is just sticking out of it. So, this seems like a bad business plan for Mr. Wonka. I mean, if he puts the golden tickets where everybody can see them, people are probably just going to buy the candy bars that have the tickets. Where’s the profit in that?
Ah, who cares. Next segment. Cut to a big sign with a high school football player in a yellow uniform with blue accents. He’s holding a football… actually, no, he’s not. He’s got a football impaled on his Wolverine-like claws. It’s a good visual, especially with the uniform being reminiscent of the original X-Men costume. Let’s see how quickly they screw it up.
Yes, as they pull back, the sign reads, “Mutant Academy of Arts and Sciences: Home of the Fighting Wolverines”. I see. So, don’t just tell a joke, tell it twice in a row. That way, it’s double-funny. Imagine Leslie Nielsen saying, “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. Because, when you said ‘surely’, I mistook it to mean that you were calling me by the woman’s name ‘Shirley’. They sound alike and I became confused.”
Okay, so they’re making fun of X-Men. At least we can vaguely agree it’s an epic. They’re tending in the right direction, at least.
Enter our latest orphan, Peter. The narrator tells us he lives among the mutant outcasts of society but, even among them, he’s an outcast. Oh, and everybody who goes to this high school is thirty, but I bet you already knew that.
Peter sees a Mystique lookalike hanging with her friend. Mystique does a sexy dance by her locker, because that’s just what sexy girls do. Peter approaches her and says, “Hi, Mystique.” So, the name of the satiric take-off on Mystique is… Mystique. How is that even… Where is the sat… I just… I just can’t make my mind accept what I’m seeing. I’m the man who mistook his wife for a hat.
Now, I have good news and bad news about Mystique. The good news is that she’s played by Carmen Electra, who, by my count, becomes the third person in the cast to have been on House. The bad news is that she’s obviously fully clothed. I mean, she’s clearly wearing pants. I realize that they didn’t have X-Men money, but the difference between her costume and Rebecca Romijn’s is… depressing.
Even more depressing? Mystique’s friend is played by Lauren Conrad, in a totally pointless cameo. Lauren Conrad, star of The Hills, and former roommate of Heidi Montag. I have no idea what she’s doing in this movie.
Peter tries to ask Mystique out, but she turns him down. Then, in slow mo, the cool kids enter. And they’re the X-Men. The leader is Wolverine (despite the fact that they already used Wolverine once on the sign). Hidden behind him is a guy who’s supposed to be Cyclops. I have to admit the Storm lookalike actually looks like Storm. The Rogue lookalike, however, is large enough for Anna Paquin to wear her as a suit.
Also, according to Wolverine’s jacket, the school colors are now blue and white, even though they were blue and yellow on the sign. So unlike us, our dear friend Continuity was apparently lucky enough to escape from this movie.
The X-Men join Mystique. She’s obviously Wolverine’s girlfriend in this movie, so somewhere, the eight Logan/Raven ‘shippers squeal in ecstasy. Lauren Conrad makes a snide comment about Rogue’s two-tone hair. This causes Rogue to remove her elbow-length glove and thrust her hand into Lauren’s abdomen, instantly killing her. Since Lauren was obviously Mystique’s friend, and since Mystique and Wolverine didn’t meet just this second, this means Rogue, during school, killed a girl she knew and had probably hung out with. Satire Rogue is a bad-ass.
Wolverine tells Peter to stay away from his girl. He’s doing a lot of squinting and growling. I suppose the actor was trying to get together a Hugh Jackman impression. Good for him. Oh, and Wolverine is Vince Vieluf from Rat Race. He’s a funny guy. He looks nothing like Hugh Jackman and embarrasses himself terribly here, but he’s a funny guy. Remember when he pretended to have a crush on Ross on Friends? Let’s just lean back and get lost in our revelry. What’s about to happen is not that.
Peter calls Wolverine an “asshole”, so Wolverine unleashes his claws. He takes time to bend two claws down for some sort of middle finger joke. Didn’t the actual Wolverine do the same thing in one of the X-Men movies? Once again, how is this a parody?
Peter rips off his shirt to reveal an Angel-like halter. Everybody gets spooked: “He’s unleashing his power!” “He’s going to sprout angel wings!” I defy you to guess what happens next. That’s right: he reveals a tiny set of chicken wings growing out of his back, and even squawks a couple times. Finally, satire!
Everybody starts laughing. And then Magneto shows up (I think he’s supposed to be the principal, but who knows?) and tells them to break it up. He reminds them that “Peter is too much of a pussy to stand up for himself!” And there’s a visual here where Magneto’s helmet has a ridiculous horseshoe magnet on top. There’s no time to dwell on that, however, because Peter runs away in shame. So Magneto causes a locker door to fly open and knock him unconscious. Everyone, including Magneto, laughs. So, why did he bother to break up the fight?
Whatever the reason, the point of locker door swinging open reveals itself. A Willy Bar falls out of the locker, and half of the wrapper has been torn away to reveal a golden ticket. And this is even stupider than the last one. It means somebody bought a Willy Bar, began opening it, saw the golden ticket, and reacted by shoving it in a locker and closing the door.
Still, I’m more grateful to that unseen locker owner than I was to Debbie Anne Fleckstein in seventh grade, because it means that the last of these four preludes is over. That’s right: we can finally get on with the actual movie. Yeesh, I spent less time in grad school.