A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this crude parody is from the same directing team responsible for Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans. Like all of those movies, this one features a seemingly endless list of celebrity impersonations and reenactments of scenes from other popular films. Expect strong language ("s--t," "a--hole," etc.) and comedic violence. There are a couple of scenes of women in bikinis or lingerie, a shot of Beowulf's naked behind, and tons of sex-based jokes and references. As for commercialism, the entire film could be regarded as an ad for all of the movies and celebrities it references.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
DISASTER MOVIE loosely follows the plotline of Cloverfield, one of the dozens of popular movies being targeted here. While at a party, an unknown catastrophe strikes Manhattan, endangering the lives of Will (Matt Lanter), his ex-girlfriend Amy (Vanessa Minnillo), and random other friends, including Juno-esque pregnant teen Juney (Crista Flanagan) and a Giselle-like (but really crazy) Enchanted princess (Nicole Parker) who actually lives in the sewers. As they attempt to survive falling asteroids, twisters, and other life-threatening phenomena, Will and company bump into many celebrities and re-enact scenes from scores of other movies.
Is it any good?
This decade has brought us a series of successively less bearable, virtually unwatchable "comedies" from directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, and this is yet another. Unlike the classic genre parodies of the '70s and '80s that left audiences nearly out of breath from laughing so hard, what they make isn't even comedy; it's more like a parade of popular movie characters and celebrities stitched together with punchlines so eye-rollingly predictable that most seventh-graders could have written them.
The actors themselves, a few of whom are MADtv veterans, aren't to blame. None of them is well-known enough -- with the exceptions of Carmen Electra and Kim Kardashian, both of whom have their ample "actorly" assets on display -- to turn down a film role. The fact that Lions Gate keeps giving Friedberg and Seltzer a platform for this dreck is the real disaster.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this film is really a parody of disaster movies. What characteristics of that genre is it making fun of? What other things does the movie mock? Why do you think the filmmakers included so many pop-culture references? Are the celebrity impersonators and sight-gags from other movies funny? Do you think anyone will find any of it funny decades from now, when half of the references will have been forgotten? Does any of it go too far? Are there better examples of spoofs?
- In theaters: August 29, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 5, 2009
- Cast: Crista Flanagan, Matt Lanter, Vanessa Minnillo
- Directors: Aaron Seltzer, Jason Friedberg
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content throughout, language, drug references and comic violence.
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