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Sloppy mix of blockbuster parodies makes for 'Epic' disaster

Darrell Hammond spoofs Johnny Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean" role in "Epic Movie." (John P. Johnson)

The epic of "Epic Movie" may refer to the size of the blockbusters it parodies. But it more accurately reflects the level of its makers' disinterest in good comedy.

Barreling through recent and recentish box office hits like a tractor trailer driven by underage drunks, this would-be parody mashes up the plot of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" with that of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Along the way, "Snakes on a Plane," "X-Men," "Harry Potter," "The Da Vinci Code," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Nacho Libre," and "Borat" are laughed at. So are pop-culture trendlets, like the "Lazy Sunday" music video from "Saturday Night Live." But the crime of "Epic Movie" is its failure to hit the sweet spot of what makes any of these projects inherently absurd.

The men behind the wheel are Aaron Seltzer and Jason Fried-berg. They had a hand in composing the inaugural edition of the "Scary Movie" franchise and wrote and directed last year's "Date Movie," which attempted to beat up on romantic-comedy ridiculousness. Maybe they didn't know the superior "Not Another Teen Movie" sufficiently assaulted the genre five years earlier.

In any case, with "Epic Movie," Seltzer and Friedberg are milking a dried-up cow. What you miss most is the shamelessness and wit that the actors Anna Faris and Regina Hall have brought to four installments of "Scary Movie." In lieu of those two, there are exploding pimples, a tongue frozen on a pole, and industrial-strength projectile vomit.

The willful sloppiness and retrograde gags make "Epic Movie," which was not shown to critics, an inevitable byproduct of our Internet video era. It seems downloaded and projected onto the screen, a failing online-film-school project paid for and put out by a Hollywood movie studio. That said, very little on YouTube is this unentertaining. (Of course, the other four paying -- and chuckling -- customers with whom I shared my viewing experience would beg to differ.)

Somehow "Epic Movie" managed to lure talented funny people into the proceedings (so that's where the budget went). Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Crispin Glover, Darrell Hammond, Kevin McDonald, and Kal Penn are here. So is Carmen Electra, who's neither funny nor talented, which puts her in ideal company with her directors.

Wesley Morris can be reached at For more on movies, go to