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MOVIE REVIEW

The references fly by, but the time doesn't

September 01, 2008|Michael Ordona | Special to The Times

The purported fun in "Disaster Movie" is in the relentless mashing up of pop-culture references: In the first few minutes, the film gropes dazedly for "Armageddon," "10,000 B.C.," "American Gladiators," "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and Amy Winehouse. Does it slow down from there? No, no, no.

That's really what "Disaster Movie" and the rest of its indistinguishable ilk are about: racing, mouth foaming, to include as many films, TV shows and celebrities as possible, as quickly as possible, hoping the audience doesn't notice how few actual jokes are beneath the laughs of recognition. It's a scattershot blast aimed at teens with an extremely short attention span and a girl-fighting fixation.

But that is apparently enough to keep these review-proof opuses coming, with no end in sight. Perhaps they'll eventually make one called "Spoof Movie," which would brilliantly parody the genre by being consistently funny.

Even running out of suitable titles can't stop this juggernaut of mediocrity; not that the story should make a lick of sense, but it's essentially "Cloverfield" -- attractive twentysomethings trying to escape a cataclysm in the city. Presumably, there was no money for creatures, so it's "Disaster," rather than "Monster," movie. Cue the smoke and shaking of cameras.

The product's not 100% giggle-free: Several songs have amusing lyrics, especially parodies of "Juno" and "High School Musical." Among the players, utility infielder Ike Barinholtz sports at least seven impersonations of varying sufficiency (best: Beowulf; worst: "No Country for Old Men's" Anton Chigurh). Nicole Parker's singing shines, as does her portrayal of the "Enchanted" princess as a squeaky-clean skank.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the movie is how current it manages to be, including references to "The Dark Knight" (well, to Batman, anyway) and just about every film to make back its budget in the last year -- and then it kicks "Speed Racer" and "Love Guru" while they're down, for good measure.

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"Disaster Movie." MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. In general release.

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