Home > Reviews > EPIC MOVIE – Edward Shearmur

EPIC MOVIE – Edward Shearmur

January 26, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Does anybody else remember when this sort of movie used to be funny? There was once a time where these silly spoofs of movie genres were guaranteed to offer a few good laughs at worst, and a hysterical time at the movies at best. I suppose the 70’s and 80’s were the heyday for this kind of movie… I’m talking about stuff from Mel Brooks and the Zucker crew like “Young Frankenstein”, “Blazing Saddles”, “Silent Movie”, “Airplane”, “The Naked Gun”, and “Spaceballs”. There were even some okay ones in the 90’s, the first “Scary Movie” was pretty funny. I thought that “Date Movie” was the absolutely worst of these ever to be released, but that has now been topped by “Epic Movie”, which hasn’t got a funny bone in it’s body.

Look at a movie like “Spaceballs”. Not the best movie of this sort, but a funny one, nonetheless. It’s got a little something for everybody. Pop culture references, satire, slapstick, a wide array of jokes ranging from broadly goofy to witty bits of humour for movie geeks. It was almost impossible not to laugh at some point, depending on what tickles your funny bone. Twenty years after it’s release, it still holds up. I’ve written at length before on the subject of comedy, and why it’s the most difficult genre for a film critic to review successfully, because everybody has a different sense of humour. You like Adam Sandler, I like Monty Python, this guy likes The Three Stooges. Okay, I can accept that there are different types of comedy, and different tastes in humour, and I can respect a movie that does a good job at what it’s aiming to do (say, “Mouse Hunt”) even if it’s really not my cup of tea.

But getting back to “Epic Movie”… I’m a pretty open-minded person, but I just don’t think this stuff qualifies as comedy. It has no clue of how to spoof something, and if you said the word “satire” to the writers, I have no doubt they would respond with a blank stare. The film is merely a crappy imitation of other movies, not a mockery or spoof of them. It’s sad when a movie that’s supposed to be making fun of other movies makes you wish you were watching one of the movies being lampooned instead.

“Epic Movie” spends most of it’s time in the world of Gnarnia, where four orphans (played by Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jayma Mays, and Faune Chambers) must team up with man-lion Aslo (Fred Willard) to defeat the White Bitch (Jennifer Coolidge). Along the way, we’re treated to mock versions of “The Da Vinci Code”, “Harry Potter”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Snakes on a Plane”, “X-Men”, “Borat”, “Nacho Libre”, and even tv shows like “Cribs” and “Chappelle’s Show”.

Some of the gags don’t work, simply because it’s difficult to spoof some of the movies that are all ready quite wacky and funny anyway. I mean, take the “Pirates of the Caribbean” spoof… they’ve got a guy dressed up as Jack Sparrow, talking in Johnny Depp’s trademark slur and moving his hands in funny ways. They try to turn Jack Sparrow into a caricature, which is a ridiculous idea, since Jack Sparrow is all ready a caricature. It’s the same thing, but less funny than “Pirates of the Caribbean” actually is. Ditto “Nacho Libre”, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, and most assuredly “Borat”.

However, some of these movies were ripe for the picking, especially “Narnia” and “The Da Vinci Code”, but they miss every single opportunity. (Incidentally, James Southall’s review of the “Da Vinci Code” soundtrack is ten times funnier than every gag in this movie combined). Their primary idea of a joke seems to be to have their characters sing a rap song. In the most embarrassing scene of his career, a naked David Carradine jumps up off the floor of the Louvre and does a funky hip-hop dance. Charlie (Crispin Glover, so remarkably weird that he actually threatens to make the movie interesting) and the Oompa-Loompas sing a hip-hop song. Mr. Tumnus does a hip-hop number. So does Captain Jack and his crew. So does Davy Jones. And on, and on, and on… it’s as if the filmmakers watched every scene, and then said, “Hey, wouldn’t this be funnier if all these well-known movie characters sang a rap song? Ha!” When they’re not desperately trying to fill the film’s 86 minutes with this rubbish, they resort to stupid bathroom jokes. When the orphans land in Narnia, they all make yellow drawings in the snow. They do this pretty much every time snow is around. The chocolate river in Charlie’s Factory is made of… well, I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

I don’t know why, but the writers have apparently assumed that merely having famous movie characters doing stupid, crass things is funny. And remember how I talked about all the different kinds of humour those other movies of this genre used to have? Well, here, there’s none of that, and every single joke absolutely MUST be related to some movie that came out within the last five years, which will make this movie completely obsolete and dated within another five years (heck, it will be dated by the time you read this review).

One positive element is the score from Edward Shearmur, who should not have to take assignments like this. Shearmur has proven himself to be a very diverse talent, providing excellent music for “Reign of Fire”, “Laws of Attraction”, “Johnny English”, “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”, and others. He’s mimicked spy movie music and golden age adventure music very well in the past, and now he gets to mimic a whole array of recent musical scores. Shearmur’s job is basically to come as close as possible to sounding like the score to whatever movie is being spoofed onscreen without getting sued. So, we hear spot-on, a-few-notes-changed versions of music from all the aforementioned movies. His mock versions of “The Da Vinci Code”, “Harry Potter”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” are particularly fun, unfortunately, the film spends most of it’s time in Gnarnia, and the original “Chronicles of Narnia” score by Harry Gregson-Williams simply doesn’t have as much distinct personality as the others, though Shearmur does a terrific job of creating sound-alike cues. I would cry out for an album release of the score, because there’s far too little Shearmur music around these days, but then, why bother listening to this when you can listen to the actual thing? Shearmur doesn’t really spoof the music, he merely imitates it. Still, it’s the single element that made the film bearable to watch.

The accompanying soundtrack album, on Lakeshore Records, is the usual mixed bag of seemingly unrelated songs thrown together to make a commercial spin-off, but looking at the credits of the CD it seems that the vast majority of the songs were actually written specifically for the film, and were penned by songwriters Ali Theodore, Zach Danziger, Julian Davis, Vincent Alfieri and Aaron Sandloffer, along with screenwriters Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Almost inevitably, the best two songs are 80s kitsch classics: Survivor’s legendary “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky II, and Carl Douglas’s unforgettable “Kung Fu Fighting”. Even more inevitably, Shearmur’s score was completely ignored.

I suppose I’ve dedicated an inordinate amount of time to talking about this movie that could have been sufficiently reviewed with the words, “it sucks”, but I suppose I’m just a bit heartbroken over where this sort of movie has gone. I can no longer look forward to this sort of film, because doing stupid crap like this is apparently all it takes to satisfy today’s modern audience. Maybe the only reason movies like this exist is so we can all sit there and think, “I could have written a better script than this.” Do yourself and the rest of the world a favour by avoiding the film… perhaps if enough people fail to pay their hard-earned money for this sort of junk, studios will realize they actually have to put a little bit of humour into their comedy cash cows.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Don’t Speak [I Came To Make a Bang!] (performed by Eagles of Death Metal) (2:50)
  • Art of War (performed by SWJ featuring Sizzle C) (2:54)
  • Be More Robotic (performed by EKUK) (2:51)
  • Eye of the Tiger (performed by Survivor) (4:06)
  • Kung Fu Fighting (performed by Carl Douglas) (3:13)
  • My Block (performed by Cham Pain) (2:43)
  • He’s Willy (performed by Leetown) (3:15)
  • The Focus (performed by X5 featuring Mr. Tang) (2:00)
  • Pick It Up (performed by LP featuring Jose Fuego) (2:33)
  • Throw Your Cash Up (performed by SWJ featuring Sizzle C) (2:17)
  • Lazy Pirate Day (performed by Zach Danziger, Ali Dee and Chris Davis) (2:06)
  • The Moment (performed by X5) (2:52)
  • Fire Fight (performed by EKUK) (2:54)
  • Bounce Dat Azz (performed by Dorian Childs) (3:20)

Running Time: 39 minutes 45 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-33902 (2007)

Music composed and conducted by Edward Shearmur. Orchestrations by Kyle Kenneth Batter and Jeff Toyne. Recorded and mixed by Chris Fogel. Edited by Michael T. Ryan. Album produced by Dave Jordan, Jojo Villanueva, Skip Williamson and Brian McNellis.

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