In a year that’s already felt the release of “Meet the Spartans,” it’s telling to write that “Superhero Movie” is in serious contention to be the worst picture of 2008. I mean, a feature would have to be just mind-bogglingly inexcusable to match the crater of awful left behind by “Spartans” in January, yet “Superhero” comes close, too close, to making the race for the bottom a dead-heat.
Average high school loser Rick Riker (Drake Bell) is in love with his neighbor Jill (Sara Paxton), tormented by bullies, and was recently bit by a genetically-modified dragonfly during a science field trip. Now endowed with superpowers he doesn’t understand, Rick assumes the identity of “The Dragonfly” and attempts to bring justice to Empire City. With the help of his Uncle Albert (Leslie Nielsen) and Aunt Lucille (Marion Ross), Rick learns the meaning of responsibility, but his world changes when the supervillain Hourglass (Christopher McDonald) rises to power, bent on killing the masses to make himself immortal.
While “Superhero” is a spoof picture, it has the advantage over the seizure-inducing “Spartans” by generally sticking to a specific pool of movies to lampoon, instead of flailing around like a crank addict high-fiving every single pop culture monstrosity of the last calendar year. The aptly-titled “Superhero Movie” takes on...well, superhero movies, with emphasis on the 2002 blockbuster, “Spider-Man.” Yeah, that’s right; the picture makes fun of a movie that’s now six years old. This is only the beginning of the moldy nightmares “Superhero” provides.
While boasting the participation of satire king David Zucker (who produces), “Superhero” was actually born from the mind of writer/director Craig Mazin, who already worked the comic-book hero bit with 2000’s painfully unfunny “The Specials.” Mazin, who also had a hand in writing the last two “Scary Movie” pictures, is man with a plan, but absent the slightest molecule of cleverness. I’ll give him this: “Superhero” isn’t scattershot, just humorless to a demonic degree, and insultingly reliant on potty jokes to pander to the soft brains who found “Alvin and the Chipmunks” too highfalutin.
Right from the start of the picture, it’s obvious Mazin is one unfunny bastard. “Superhero” is a film that loves when characters pratfall on poop, get dry-humped by animals, or are continually farted upon. That’s the spectrum of humor offered here, and the picture is relentless inserting bodily function gags wherever it can, often passing up potential for true parody just to add a fecal punctuation mark where nobody asked for one. The superhero material is quickly secondary to Mazin running around trying to appease kids in the audience with tedious vulgarity.
The rest of “Superhero” is just as wretched, stitching together a spoof of comic-book movies with minimal attention to giggle detail. While “Spider-Man” is the main course of the script, “Batman Begins,” “Fantastic Four,” and “X-Men” are also given their own split-second shots to the chest. The rest of the script is simply overturning pop culture mainstays such as MySpace, ubiquitous iPod usage, and the insanity of Tom Cruise. There’s even an Enron joke. Talk about cutting-edge comedy.
Since it contains perhaps the silver screen’s longest flatulence joke (criminally involving Marion Ross), “Superhero Movie” deserves a special place in the burning fires of Hell, where lazy writing, insipid direction, and an unforgivable eagerness towards bottom-feeding stupidity can roast along with the rest of the spoof genre’s recent offerings.