New on DVD: Superhero Movie

Over the last eight years, there has been a horde of theatrical releases with titles ending in “movie.” It began with Scary Movie and its numerous sequels satirizing horror movies and then branched out to spoofing romantic comedies, epic films, the superhero picture and, soon, disaster flicks. These parodies have become a franchise.

This week marks the DVD release of Superhero Movie, a send-up to the popular blockbuster films featuring comic book heroes and their ominous enemies. The core of the film is a takeoff of Spiderman but it also includes skits based on Batman, Fantastic Four, and X-Men.

Rick Riker (Drake Bell) is an orphan and high school loser. Raised by his aunt and uncle (Marion Ross and Leslie Nielsen), he pines silently for Jill (Sara Paxton), the girl next door. Then on a school trip he is bitten by a genetically-engineered dragonfly and begins to develop superpowers, including incredible strength and impenetrable skin. Embracing his new responsibility, he dons green tights and fights crime under the guise of “Dragonfly.” In the meantime, a botched experiment gives Lou Landers (Christopher McDonald) the ability to steal other people’s life forces and births the supervillain “The Hourglass.”

These films are usually good for a few laughs but they rarely endure the length of the film (unless you’re a high school adolescent). The first half is particularly funny but it starts to wane fairly quickly. Furthermore, the X-Men spoof slows down the momentum of the film and seems out of place. On a good note, Bell is very entertaining and hits all his marks.

The deleted scenes definitely belong on the cutting room floor, while the alternate ending never actually had to see the light of day. On the other hand, during the commentary, the filmmakers hint at an original ending that was scrapped early on but sounds better than either of the two included – it would have been interesting to see some sort of recreation of that conclusion instead.

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