This review was written for the theatrical screening of "Epic Movie."
The latest release to go out NSFC (not screened for critics), the intended parody "Epic Movie" is a monumentally unfunny (even by usual NSFC standards) time-waster brought to you by the same folks responsible for last year's equally lame "Date Movie."
Ostensibly taking aim at Hollywood blockbusters but essentially a catchall vehicle for titles that don't fall immediately under the scary movie or date movie um-brella, the 20th Century Fox release obviously is courting the 14-year-old male crowd with the hope that all the bikini-clad babes, bodily (mal)functions and blows to the crotch will distract them from the realization that there's a big gaping hole in the laughs department.
This time around, the obligatory linking device, such as it is, brings together Kal Penn, Adam Campbell, Jayma Mays and Faune Chambers as characters from spoofs of "The Da Vinci Code," "X-Men," "Nacho Libre" and "Snakes on a Plane" who find golden tickets in Wonka bars entitling them to take part in an epic movie.
After barely surviving "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with Crispin Glover doing the Willy honors, they stumble across an enchanted wardrobe that takes them to the land of Gnarnia (with spelling changed for copyright reasons), where they encounter the likes of Jennifer Coolidge as the White Bitch and "Saturday Night Live's" Darrell Hammond doing a mean Johnny Depp in the guise of one Captain Jack Swallows.
Along the way, there are limp spoofs of everything from "Superman Returns" to "Scarface" to "MTV Cribs" to "Borat," but in each case writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer seem to think a half-baked imitation of the original constitutes instant comic gold.
Even a potentially amusing premise like showing the rapidly maturing cast of the "Harry Potter" franchise as middle-aged slobs is completely squandered despite the best efforts of Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald.
Among others whose talents go to considerable waste here are "Nacho" scene-stealer Hector Jimenez and Christopher Guest ensemble vets Fred Willard and Jim Piddock.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, production designer William Elliott and costume designer Frank Helmer at least manage to find a little inspiration in replicating the look of those blockbusters, which is something that is otherwise sorely lacking in this epic bore.
20th Century Fox
Director-screenwriters: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
Producer: Paul Schiff
Executive producers: Arnon Milchan, Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, Rodney Liber
Director of photography: Shawn Maurer
Production designer: William Elliott
Editor: Peck Prior
Costume designer: Frank Helmer
Music: Edward Shearmur
Edward: Kal Penn
Peter: Adam Campbell
White Bitch: Jennifer Coolidge
Lucy: Jayma Mays
Susan: Faune Chambers
Willy: Crispin Glover
Bink: Tony Cox
Mr. Tumnus: Hector Jimenez
Captain Jack Swallows: Darrell Hammond
Mystique: Carmen Electra
Aslo: Fred Willard.
Running time -- 86 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13