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Vampires Suck

Jenn Proske as Becca and Matt Lanter as Edward in Jason Friedberg and Aaaron Seltzer’s Vampires Suck. [Photo: 20th Century Fox]

Vampires Suck 0 out of 4

star-0

There are any number of reasons why Vampires Suck reeks as much as the vampire trend it's parodying. A characteristic work of monumentally lazy spoof comedy by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Vampires Suck confirms Idiocracy's prediction of modern man's devolution from humdrum mediocrity to sub-caveman levels of intelligence. We have, after all, gone from the renaissance period characterized by Airplane! and Top Secret! to the putrid and barely tolerable Wayans brothers' I'm Gonna Git You Sucka and the first two Scary Movies (which Friedberg and Seltzer co-wrote along with four other writers) to Friedberg and Seltzer's Epic Movie and Vampires Suck, films whose instantly forgettable titles signal a knowing level of unimportance.

If the quality of Vampires Suck's slapdash gags are any indication, Friedberg and Seltzer know they're writing insignificant material. They know that half the struggle to find an audience for their film is picking a few good big targets. As usual, the target they've chosen for Vampires Suck, which focuses on the film adaptations of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books, is so big that Friedberg and Seltzer are too beside themselves to make any adequate jokes. There's an unearned sense of superiority about Vampires Sucks, a sign that Friedberg and Selzter just aren't trying to please anyone but themselves with their limp slapstick violence, half-assed sight gags, and stale sex jokes that would make Carrot Top ashamed. That incompetence is a major reason why Vampires Suck doesn't work, but it's hardly the only one.

First of all, Vampires Suck's story is just the plots of the first two Twilight adaptations crammed together. Becca (Jenn Proske) is the new teen in the small town of Sporks, where she discovers her budding sexuality under the not-so-watchful eyes of her father Frank (Diedrich Bader), the local sheriff. She falls in love with Edward (Matt Lanter), the mysterious sparkling vampire boy and later with frequently topless werewolf guy Jacob (Chris Riggi). Conflict, much like comedy in the film, is assumed to automatically ensue from that point on.

Skeptical viewers, or even just ones that are half asleep, don't have to watch Vampires Suck very hard to get the jokes, as many of them are deconstructed as the film plays out, like when Becca and Edward gaze at each other longingly and Becca's new BFF, Jennifer (Anneliese van der Pol), announces that Becca and Edward's staring contest is "Hardwicke 101" and "underscores your respective yearnings." Moments later, the token Asian teen (Jun Hee Lee) sputters, "Damn that overwrought unrequited teenage love." Not only do I now understand exactly what Friedberg and Seltzer are sending up, but also exactly why I'm not laughing: No joke is funny after it's been explained and subsequently ridden into the ground that hard.

Another possible reason is that a lot of the jokes aren't jokes at all, but rather, inexplicable predated pop-culture references. There are random jokes about the Kardashians, The Jersey Shore, the Jonas brothers, American Idol, Twitter, Lindsay Lohan (and a cocaine joke, at that), Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Lady Gaga, Eat Pray Love, and lots more. All that's missing from the film's dimwitted time-capsule style of comedy is Justin Bieber, Bernie Mahdoff, the Inception meme, Keyboard Cat, and Rod Blagojevich.

Seltzer and Friedberg are so careless they don't even try to go after some of the more obvious targets of the newly revived vampire craze (does nobody remember Anne Rice?), making only passing references to True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. If Vampires Suck were helmed by anyone other than Friedberg and Seltzer, the fact that those two targets are left alone might suggest some kind of restraint or possibly a focus to their comedy. But remember: These guys are so desperate to get a cheap laugh from their built-in audience that they cram in a rubber Obama Halloween mask during a preempted sex scene for no reason whatsoever ("I love role-playing," Becca says coyly). The only restraint shown here is the film's 76-minute runtime. After all, Friedberg and Seltzer could have made a 90-plus-minutes-long turd—or a another Twilight movie, for that matter.

There are any number of other reasons why the film's many failings should be laid at Seltzer and Friedberg's feet. They consistently waste the little comedic talent it has at its disposal: Ken Jeong has his moments in the five minutes he's in the movie as a homicidal vampire, and Bader makes the most of gruel-thin material. Seltzer and Friedberg's jokes are also ploddingly literal, lacking the surreal panache of the Zuckers or even the Wayanses. It's like they're so desperate for a yuk that they don't even remember how to tell a joke after a while. I preferred Stephenie Meyer's vamp romance when it wasn't supposed to be funny.

Director(s): Jason Friedberg, Aaaron Seltzer Screenwriter(s): Jason Friedberg, Aaaron Seltzer Cast: Jenn Proske, Diedrich Bader, Ken Jeong, Matt Lanter, Chris Riggi Distributor: 20th Century Fox Runtime: 76 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2010

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