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Movie Review

'Disaster' lives up to its name

Vanessa Minnillo and Matt Lanter in ''Disaster Movie.'' Vanessa Minnillo and Matt Lanter in ''Disaster Movie.'' (Jon Barren Farmer)
By Michael Hardy
Globe Correspondent / August 30, 2008
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"Disaster Movie," written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, represents the best argument for overturning Hustler Magazine v. Falwell - the 1988 Supreme Court case that protects celebrity parodies - since, well, Hustler Magazine.

Riding in on the shabby coattails of "Scary Movie," "Date Movie," and "Epic Movie," the film lampoons shock-and-awe blockbusters from "Armageddon" to "An Inconvenient Truth." But it doesn't stop there. Like a 90-minute, double-wide version of VH1's "Best Week Ever," "Disaster" references virtually every pop cultural phenomenon of the past five years, from "High School Musical" to Dr. Phil. Why is Hannah Montana killed by a meteor? For the same reason that Indiana Jones is played by an African-American dwarf and Michael Jackson is discovered in Speed Racer's trunk: The filmmakers are idiots.

Like a tripod, "Disaster" stands on three legs: feces humor, urine humor, and fake celebrities fighting each other. Carrie Bradshaw fights Juno. Alvin and the Chipmunks fight the princess from "Enchanted." Carmen Electra fights Kim Kardashian (sadly, these two appear as themselves). None of this is remotely humorous, but it does have a grim intensity, as if the film were so busy moving on to the next unfunny joke that it doesn't have time to finish the last unfunny joke. Aiming at universal satire - the film takes wobbly aim at pederast priests, cellphone commercials, and fast food menu options - "Disaster" is less a film than Friedberg and Seltzer's drunken, belligerent rant against everything in the universe except themselves. That's a shame, because no one spoofed in the film - yes, including Jessica Simpson - is more worthy of derision than the people responsible for making it.

To say that "Disaster" relentlessly mocks homosexuals, blacks, and Asian people is merely to say that it is a contemporary comedy; crude, bigoted jokes are Hollywood's current stock-in-trade, and I suppose moviegoers might ask for a refund if "Disaster" didn't provide them. Gary "G. Thang" Johnson plays the film's token black character with such evident relish for minstrelsy that he might as well be Al Jolson in blackface. And like carbuncular freshmen, Friedberg and Seltzer can find no more eloquent expression of their contempt than the phrase "that's gay." "American Gladiators"? Gay. Michael Jackson? Gay. "Beowulf"? Definitely gay.

So let me sum up "Disaster Movie" in language that Friedberg, Seltzer, and their pubescent fans can understand: Gayest. Movie. Ever.

Disaster Movie

Written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer

Starring: Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, Gary "G. Thang" Johnson, Crista Flanagan

Running time: 90 minutes

Rated: PG-13

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