‘Disaster Movie’ review: Friedberg-Seltzer spoof among the worst movies ever made

You might expect a film called Disaster Movie to be a parody of disaster movies, but you’d be wrong. It’s safer not to expect anything here, safer still not to see the film, which has currently occupies the #1 position on IMDb’s “Bottom 100”. Is it the worst movie ever made? Probably not, but it must be close. 

It comes from directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who wrote Scary Movie and directed Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans. What a lineup! I think Epic Movie was the worst, but do I have to choose? 

Back in the day, you had your spoof movies like Airplane!, which spoofed the Airport movies from the previous decade, and The Naked Gun, which spoofed 1960s police procedurals.  

Now you have Disaster Movie, a film with such a short-term memory that not only doesn’t it spoof anything more than 6-months old, it doesn’t even spoof disaster movies, hoping you’ve forgotten the name of the movie shortly after entering the cinema. 

It seems to take the plot from Cloverfield, some people in an apartment, an attack on the city; but then after ten minutes the filmmakers seem to have decided that Cloverfield has been long forgotten, drop everything and proceed to barrage us with an endless barrage of references from movies, TV, commercials, etc., from the summer of 2008. 

Even stuff that no one has seen, like The Love Guru. And references, not jokes, ‘cause when they bring out a guy in a shoddy panda suit, you’d have no idea this was supposed to be Kung Fu Panda unless they have a character announce it to you directly, and by the time they say, “hey look, it’s Kung Fu Panda!” there’s no time left for comedy. Rinse and repeat with Batman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones, Amy Winehouse, etc., ad nauseam.

Disaster Movie is awful and proud of it, and not nearly as entertaining as you expect a bad movie to be. And it contains one of the worst performances I’ve ever witnessed, from Crista Flanagan, who tries to spoof Ellen Page’s performance in Juno by amping up the apathy level and failing on every conceivable level and many inconceivable ones too. 

I wonder who the intended audience for this piece of work is. With a barrage of references that rarely break the 3-month-old mark (the Cloverfield plotline, which harkens all the way back to the beginning of this year, seems to be pushing it), anyone that has formed a memory past a year or two seems to be out of the target demographic. 

Newborns may not mind the film, though they may be offended by all the fetus violence. Amnesiacs, perhaps, with no memory prior to May, 2008, might enjoy the movie. Or those locked in a dungeon from birth, like the main character in Werner Herzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, released into the world just in time to catch You Don’t Mess with the Zohan and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

But then, at the end of the film, there’s an interminable song that runs through every last stale reference that the film has made, as if we didn’t just sit through this goddamn thing. It’s a headache on top of the headache that was the rest of the movie; the only people who won’t find it vomit-inducing are those who have just walked into the film, five minutes before it’s over. 

That can’t be the target audience, can it? What was the point of the rest of the film? No, I imagine the movie was made for those unfortunate souls with both amnesia and short-term memory loss; like the guy in Memento, only without any memory prior to the accident either. As an added bonus, this audience will have no memory of the film by the time it’s over. More fortunate than I.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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