Epic Movie is an 80 minute game of "Where Borat?"
Every other movie from the last year or so has been sent up in this, the directing debut of a couple of Scary Movie screenwriters. We wait and wait for the Kazakh punch line.
Movies are lampooned by the score, from Da Vinci Code to Nacho Libre, Willy Wonka to The Chronicles of Narnia. Topical "gags" ranging from a send-up of rap videos, MTV's Cribs to jabs at Homeland Security are flung against the screen.
Almost nothing sticks. There's barely a laugh in this thing.
The struggle to connect these disparate films together with a story packs up four orphans to Willy Wonka's land of perversions -- Crispin Glover looks genuinely upset at having to take a shot at impersonating Johnny Depp. The orphans climb into a wardrobe and wind up in "Gnarnia," where a White Rhymes-with-Witch (Jennifer Coolidge) reigns. Her foe? An over-sexed half-lion played by Fred Willard.
And that's as close as this awful movie gets to the comedy of Christopher Guest, embarrassing cameos by two of Guest's rep company. Hope their checks cleared.
Kal Penn, whose name is becoming synonymous with Hollywood hooey (Van Wilder II, Son of the Mask) endures a few Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle gags, Jayma Mays endures being compared to the much funnier Anna Faris, the staple of those Scary Movie parodies.
David Carridine is the break-dancing curator killed at the opening of The Da Vinci Code. An aged Harry Potter (Kevin MacDonald) tries to help fight the White Rhymes-With-Witch.
"Let the training montage begin! Cue the inspirational music!"
Look-alike X-Men, a Wookie, Capt. Jack "Swallow," James Bond, so many characters, so many movies. Barely a giggle among them.
But Epic Movie, aside from having nothing to do with epics (nobody in Hollywood knows what one is, much less how to make them), is an educational outing. The producers show how easy it is to fake a Narnia, a pirate ship, a chocolate factory full of little people.
Cast: Kal Penn, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard, Crispin Glover, Jayma Mays, Faune A. Chambers. Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Industry rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence.