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A witless sampler is `Epic Movie'

January 29, 2007|Alex Chun | Special to The Times

According to Webster's, a "spoof is "a light humorous parody." By that definition, writers-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's latest stab at the genre, "Epic Movie," is anything but.

While "Epic Movie" portends to skewer blockbusters such as "Superman Returns" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," it's really nothing more than a disjointed series of scenes and references cobbled together as a backdrop for sophomoric humor. Yet it was also the No. 1 movie at the box office over the weekend, bringing in an estimated $19.2 million.

The film features Jayma Mays, Adam Campbell, Kal Penn ("Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle") and Faune A. Chambers ("White Chicks") as, of all things, 20-something "orphans" who are plucked out of scenes from "The Da Vinci Code," "X-Men" and "Snakes on a Plane." From there, they end up in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory before stepping into the world of Narnia, where they take on the roles of C.S. Lewis' sibling protagonists.

Narnia -- or Gnarnia as it's called for "legal reason" -- is the main stage for the bulk of the film. A smattering from other films appears throughout, including Darrell Hammond's dead-on takeoff on Johnny Depp's "Pirates of the Caribbean" character, one of "Epic's" few noteworthy performances.

For her part, Mays is game as the earnest but dim Lucy, and Campbell is passable as Peter, the leader of the group who must overcome his mutant power of sprouting chicken wings and fleeing at the first sign of danger. Penn and Chambers, on the other hand, are stiff and miscast.

The real problem with "Epic Movie" is that while it does a decent job imitating films, it never bothers to make fun of or have fun with them, which is what Friedberg and Seltzer did so well with "Scary Movie."

"Epic Movie." MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence. Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes.

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