Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo, G. Thang, Nicole Parker, Crista Flanagan, Kimberly Kardashian, Ike Barinholtz, Carmen Electra, Tony Cox, Tad Hilgenbrink, Nick Steele, John Di Domenico
Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Destroying the summer ... One movie at a time.
Prepare for earthshaking hilarity as the raunchy and outrageous team behind Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans puts the world's very survival in the hands of three buxom non-brainiacs. This twisted send-up pulverizes everyone's favorite disaster flicks, pop culture icons and public figures with no-holds-barred humor that will have you quaking with laughter.
$6.945 million on 2642 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
Runtime: 89 min.
Release Date: 1/6/2009
• Audio Commentary with Writers/Directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Associate Producer Kenny Yates, and Actors Vanessa Minnillo, Gary “G-Thang” Johnson and Matt Lanter
• “Straight from the Ladies” Featurette
• “G-Thang’s Tour” Featurette
• “This Is How We Do It” Featurette
• “Girl Fight” Featurette
• “Sitting Down With a Stand-Up” Featurette
• “Who’s Spoofing Who?” Featurette
• “I’m F**king Matt Damon” Sing Along
• “High School Musical” Sing Along
PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
Disaster Movie (2008)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 25, 2009)
Sign that the American public starts to wise up eventually: the box office failure of 2008’s Disaster Movie. The prior three flicks written and directed by Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg – 2006’s Date Movie, 2007’s Epic Movie and 2008’s Meet the Spartans - all grossed between $38 million and $48 million. Those figures don’t represent megabucks, but since these flicks boasted low budgets and did well on video, they easily turned profits.
With Disater Movie, it appears that the box office well finally ran dry. It made a poor $14 million and sank like a stone.
Will this signify the end of the Seltzer/Friedberg parody film franchise? Could be, but I doubt it. Their flicks are so cheap to make that I’m sure they’ll get another shot.
And I’ll be there to watch that film, as I maintain a perverse fascination with their work. Date Movie, Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans were all essentially the same film, as they provided identical witless takes on pop culture. So why watch Disaster? To see if it might actually do the impossible: produce a laugh.
Despite its title, this one doesn’t simply spoof disaster movies. Instead, it takes on a mix of modern flicks, with Cloverfield as the general framework. On the cusp of his 25th birthday party, commitment-phobe Will (Matt Lanter) breaks up with his girlfriend Amy (Vanessa Minillo). All is semi-forgiven when disaster strikes New York and Amy gets trapped in the Natural History Museum. Will fights through the mayhem to save her.
When I referred to that as a “loose framework”, I meant it, as the story exists for little reason other than to provide references to movies and other bits of pop culture. These ideas pop up out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly – usually, at least. Characters based on the leads from Juno and Enchanted become running roles, but otherwise the references come and go rapidly.
They usually follow the standard template found in the rest of the series. The reference pops up, makes its hit, and then goes. Usually “hit” is meant literally, as many of the spoofed roles fight with the main characters. I guess this is supposed to be wacky, and maybe someone thinks it’s hilarious to see Juno fight Carrie from Sex and the City, but I don’t.
As usual, there’s no cleverness on display. Even though the gags come and go quickly, they still manage to overstay their welcomes. For instance, the Hannah Montana bit beats us over the head with its extended riff on the character’s commercial overexposure. We get it, and the repetition doesn’t make the gag any funnier.
I will say that of the Seltzer/Friedberg flicks, Disaster fares the best. As random and unfocused as it is, it actually acts as a step up from its predecessors. Those flicks set the bar so low that this one seems like a more coherent offering.
Does that mean it is coherent? No, not really, but its predecessors were so idiotic that Disaster almost feels logical. We get the usual slapstick and bodily function humor, and the references display no signs of cleverness.
So what makes Disaster slightly more successful than the others? It seems a bit less patronizing. They telegraphed their gags in a pathetic way, while this one doesn’t manifest the jokes in such an obvious way.
For instance, during one of the many fight scenes, we get a reference to You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. To my shock, there’s no mention of the name “Zohan”, and the filmmakers actually allow the viewers to make the connection on their own. That’s not exactly groundbreaking, but for Seltzer and Friedberg, it’s pretty unusual; they prefer to literally label their references to make sure we get them.
While the script’s gags remain consistently lame, a few of the cast members almost make parts of the film entertaining. In particular, Crista Flanagan and Nicole Parker show actual talent. This doesn’t mean they produce actual laughs, of course, but they make the experience less painful.
Take all of this as exceedingly faint praise. Disaster Movie improves upon its predecessors, but not in a substantial way. While the other flicks felt like folks with 75 IQs made them, this one comes across like those with 83 IQs created it. That’s a step up, but not enough to make this film anything other than a pointless dud.
Note that this DVD offers an unrated version of Disaster. I didn’t see the “PG-13” edition, but I expect that they differ simply in terms of profanity. The unrated cut provides many uses of the “F-word”, and those wouldn’t have passed in the “PG-13” cut. We also get a little nudity – primarily via the Beowulf spoof – but since that’s just male butt, it might’ve been fine in the “PG-13” version.
Watching the unrated cut, it’s tough to imagine the film censored down to “PG-13”. For instance, the “I’m F**king Matt Damon” makes little sense when altered to “I’m Dating Matt Damon”. Disaster should’ve been released as an “R” flick, not “PG-13”.
The DVD Grades: Picture A-/Audio B+/ Bonus C
Disaster Movie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the movie provided a very satisfying transfer.
Sharpness seemed good, as virtually no signs of softness materialized here. Instead, the film appeared well-defined and precise. Neither jagged edges nor shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes. In addition, source flaws remained absent in this clean presentation.
Colors looked good, as the movie featured a nicely broad palette of bright and vibrant hues. With all the film’s subjects, the story opened up to a lot of different tones, and the DVD reproduced them well. Black levels appeared deep and dense, however, and shadow detail was appropriately dark but not too thick. Virtually no problems appeared here, as the movie offered excellent visuals.
In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Disaster Movie offered a pretty involving effort. All of the action sequences brought the five channels to life. These presented good localization of elements and blended together nicely. The material spread out the spectrum and made this an active, involving setting much of the time.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech sounded distinct and natural, and I encountered no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects appeared clean and accurate, and they showed reasonable depth when necessary. Music was the only minor weak link, as the score lacked much range. Overall, the audio of Disaster Movie supported the material acceptably well; only the lackluster music quality kept this from “A”-level consideration.
In terms of extras, we start with an audio commentary from writers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, associate producer Kenny Yates, and actors Vanessa Minillo, Gary “G-Thang” Johnson and Matt Lanter. All sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. (Actor Kim Kardashian also shows up but not until literally the very end; she only appears for about five minutes, so I didn’t count her as a participant.) The commentary looks at various general aspects of the shoot.
Normally I offer a more specific list of topics covered in a commentary, but honestly, “general aspects of the shoot” is really about as detailed as this one gets. The actors dominate, as the behind the camera talent offer little information. The performers make this a light, jokey chat without a lot of useful information. Johnson tells us all the women he wants to bang, and we get a fair amount of praise for the project. It’s not an unpleasant track to screen, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of filmmaking notes.
A series of featurettes follow. Straight from the Ladies goes for three minutes, 58 seconds and features actors Crista Flanagan and Nicole Parker. Both play multiple characters in the film, and they chat in character. Despite being stuck in such a moronic film, Flanagan and Parker exhibit actual talent, so they make this piece watchable.
For the next featurette, we get the 10-minute and 16-second G-Thang’s Tour. It provides a look behind the scenes, as Johnson leads us around various parts of the set. Some of these tidbits prove to be interesting, but most involve the same kinds of jokes and/or praise that dominated the commentary.
Next comes This Is How We Do It. It goes for nine minutes, four seconds and includes Lanter, Minnillo, Johnson, Flanagan, Kardashian, and actor Carmen Electra. They provide a few minor details about the shoot but they usually just praise each other and the directors. Yawn!
Girl Fight lasts a mere one minute and 40 seconds as it gives us notes from Electra and Kardashian. They discuss their wrestling scene. Don’t expect to learn much, but the women look pretty good.
After this we find the seven-minute and 46-second Sitting Down With a Stand-Up. It features Johnson, as we hear him joke around a lot. He’s not especially entertaining, so this is another forgettable program.
For the final featurette, we locate Who’s Spoofing Who?. It runs four minutes, 20 seconds as it throws out notes from Minnillo, Kardashian, Flanagan, Electra, and Parker. Some of the actors discuss their reactions to being spoofed in other media; this mainly means Mad TV, since three of the flick’s performers work on that show. Not much info emerges, especially since the featurette doesn’t include any footage of the parodies in question.
Two Sing Alongs come next. These cover “I’m F**king Matt Damon” (3:58) and “High School Musical” (4:08). Both provide the relevant scenes from the movie but add highlighted lyrics at the bottom of the screen. They also come with quick intros from Lanter and Minnillo, though whoever configured the DVD put them in the wrong order; based on the intros, “Musical” should pop up first on the menu. Anyway, neither proves useful.
Some ads open the disc. We get promos for My Best Friend’s Girl, Good Luck Chuck, Repo: The Genetic Opera, Religulous, and W. These appear under Also From Lions Gate as well. No trailer for Disaster Movie shows up here.
Disaster Movie provides the most coherent flick in its series, but take that as exceedingly minor “praise”. Sure, it makes more sense than its predecessors, but it still suffers from a near-total lack of humor and cleverness. The DVD provides very good picture and audio along with a roster of consistently mediocre supplements. Though this is a generally good DVD, the movie itself remains terrible.
Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4736 Stars|| Number of Votes: 19|