We find the defendant guilty of the following crimes: the defilement of Roscoe Lee Browne’s endearing narrations for the wonderful Babe films, the reduction of the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina to a mere throwaway joke sequence, an aggressively consistent absence of humor in general, and mere existence in the first place. Having only seen the original Scary Movie once in high school (and at a party where alcohol consumption was of chief concern, no less), I certainly picked the wrong time to begin catching up on this modern series of self-aware, genre-specific parodies. But like so many disasters begotten upon us of late (cinematic or otherwise), Epic Movie is something of a wake-up call to how low our collective standards have really become, not to mention an alarming indicator of the narrowing gap between our present 2007 reality and Idiocracy‘s supposedly fictitious, less-than-flattering vision of 2505 (truly, at times there is no visible difference between this and the fictitious film Ass—a two-hour, single-take, Academy Award-winning shot of a flatulent gluteus maximus—featured in Mike Judge’s Fox-aborted dystopian satire).
In the golden days of Airplane!, satire and parody actually meant something, the lowbrow subversion of the disaster genre’s ridiculous conventions proving to hold a near-bottomless well of sly wit delivered with deliciously bad taste. In lampooning seemingly every blockbuster of the past two years (and then some), Epic Movie doesn’t challenge standards or play with audience expectations; rather, it merely redresses these popular cinematic icons as their bizarro-world douchebag counterparts, dumping its starving actors (why else would David Carradine have sunken so low?) into one sorry set piece after another, asking only for the audience to have seen the previews for the past few years’ worth of multiplex fare in order to be in on the onslaught of “jokes” (should they be granted such elite status) to follow. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that, with an emphasis on films as diverse as The Da Vinci Code, Snakes on a Plane, Nacho Libre, and Borat, there isn’t much room for the “epic” to make itself known in this supposed parody of the bloated genre. Whether this was an intended oversight or not, it strikes me as one of the relatively few silver linings present within this black hole of a movie: the absence of any potentially additional material to what is already visible on screen can be considered nothing less than a miracle for anyone unfortunate enough to be in attendance.