Epic Movie
It’s official … Ren Faires are for nerds … not like me … like … oh, never mind.

Theatrical Release Date: 01/26/2007
Director: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
Cast: Kal Penn, Jayma Mays, Adam Campbell, Faune A. Chambers

Let’s make this clear. I am 183.7% against the current crop of spoof films. I hate the “Scary Movie” franchise with a passion only equaled by my love of Gatorade and I’d rather see Hollywood light their piles of money on fire in front of starving, homeless, leukemia-riddled orphans than deal with another spoof.

All that and I actually kinda liked “Epic Movie”. Now don’t get too cross with me or throw around that “hypocrite” word people keep calling me in front of my front. There are plenty of problems in this film.

First, I think spoofing a film takes only a good production department, a few reels of film and a roomful of monkeys with typewriters. Making this genre of films is sort of like making non-alcoholic beer; it just doesn’t make any sense.

However, what separates “Epic Movie” from its ilk are the actors (and my love of obvious stunt doubles … even when intentional). I’ve heard movie industry folks say that to make a good film, you need two of the three following elements: a good script, a good director and good actors. So, “Epic Movie” has one thing going for it … and it’s just enough here to overcome the other two shortcomings.

And while I’m a big Kal Penn fan, both as a comedian (“Harold and Kumar go to White Castle”) and as a dramatic actor (“The Namesake“), it’s Jayma Mays that kept me engaged here.

Much in the same way that Anna Faris was the only thing going for “Scary Movie”, Mays does a hilarious job here. Her lines are delivered very well, and she’s not hard on the eyes either. Often an actress is given a comedic role requiring her to be a ditz and it’s clear to the audience that she isn’t acting. The opposite is probably more true here, as I’d like to think Ms. Mays has a future ahead of her if her agent is any good.

The other lead characters are okay but any issues I had with them are somewhat allayed by the supporting characters. Obviously, in spoofing some of the biggest franchises of the last few years (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe“, “X-Men”, “Harry Potter”), there are certain iconic characters one must satire.

Enter Jennifer Coolidge as the evil witch from Narnia, Kevin McDonald as Harry Potter, Crispin Glover as Willy Wonka and a host of others.

Each did a great job of twisting their roles into something very funny and they were able to take rather paltry jokes and make them work. Actually, I thought Crispin Glover was even better than Johnny Depp’s take on the role. It’s sad that a film by people involved in the “Scary Movie” franchise did a better job on Oompa Loompas and I would rather have watched this segment of the film than the entire re-make, “Charlie & The Chocolate Factory“.

Anyway, there’s really not much more to reviewing a spoof film. The production value was well done, the actors manage to make a weak script work and the supporting cast was well chosen. If you thought this one might have been worth a viewing, pat yourselves on the back because you were on the right track.

Somehow I’ve managed to recommend “Epic Movie” even though it’s getting a 2 out of 5 (below the cinematic Mendoza line). Now, don’t get too carried away and think that this recommendation means you should spend top dollar here. There certainly are a lot of terrible jokes and set-ups to be seen here. Just catch it on one of the 127 movie channels you get on digital cable or satellite now that you have a nice, big high-def television. I’ve seen far worse this year (*cough* “27 Dresses“) … and that one made me get off my couch.

Is it too late to remind you that a lot of this film is terrible? Well, it’s true. And I still enjoyed it more than I hated it. I seriously should consult a physician the next time I mix my medications. After reading this review, I can’t even decide what I thought about this film anymore.