According to the main protagonist of Disaster Movie, the end of the world will come on August 29th, 2008, a clear indication of just how brazenly aware Jason Friedberg and Adam Seltzer are that their latest work, released that very day, is a giant hunk of shit. Not unlike Uwe Boll’s similarly awful Postal, Disaster Movie is nothing if not a self-aware response to the criticisms previously (and continuously) lobbed at its makers, a quality that, though unable to elevate it above the level of borderline zero-grade trash, at least elevates it into the realm of the interestingly unwatchable.
Cobbled together with plotlines, characters, catchphrases and other assorted gimmicks still lodged in the short-term memory cavities of our pop-cultural consciousness (essentially everything of note spanning Night at the Museum through The Dark Knight), the film returns to the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink formula of its wannabe-parody predecessors Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans, executing with reckless abandon a string of gags that relies almost entirely on the recognition of crude caricatures and the appreciation of random slapstick, a humor that, based on the audible responses at the screening I was at, appeals almost exclusively to children hung up on cooties and where babies come from.
Cribbing mostly from Cloverfield and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the clothesline plot involves the destruction of New York City, though it exists purely to justify what amounts to a game of connect-the-dots from Juno to Enchanted, Superbad to No Country for Old Men; all that’s missing here is a milkshake-slurping Daniel Plainview. There’s no doubt that Friedberg and Seltzer fail tremendously as satirists, but they do so more regretfully in their blindness to their Dadaist potential, seeing as the environment created by their Ed Wood-reminiscent lack of concern for continuity or production values would be ripe for laughs of the anti-logical sort, were such not repeatedly squandered by an adherence to both pathetically bad pratfalls and “You had to be there” references (most of which can be found in the previews for this summer’s round of box office contenders) bereft of any sense of timing or contextual purpose. Only in a wondrously bizarre fusion of Alvin and the Chipmunks and The Shining does the film take the necessary step to elevate its humor beyond the immediate stupidity of it all. The rest of it stinks so bad that any audience member who willingly goes back for more most likely has a fetish for shit.