brings to mind a lot of questions. Why wasn't this green-lit and out in theatres a month after Sam Raimi's Spider-Man
? Did all the fart jokes exist in director-writer Mazin's original script, or were they forced on him by certain producers who, having several Scary Movie
s and SNL
film credits on their résumés (I'm talking to you, Robert K. Weiss), know the true box-office value of crap? Did anyone other than me see Mazin's feature debut, The Specials
? That superhero satire, which had the lousy release timing to head more or less straight to video less than a year after Kinka Usher's thematically similar Mystery Men
, is a semismart, affectionate wink-and-nod toward the whole concept of superheroes and what, if anything, they did on their days off. After Brad Bird's untoppable The Incredibles
, this vein of humorous pathos has been bled dry, but it's worth bearing in mind that Mazin tackled superheroics (working from a script by James Gunn, no less), with a degree of affection, right out of the gate. That said, Superhero Movie
blows harder than Storm from X-Men
. It's a tonally confused comedy, which, for once, doesn't go far enough comedically. Featuring an earnest performance from Bell – whose riff on Peter Parker/Spider-Man is very nearly note-perfect – and an appropriately scenery-devouring McDonald (voice of The Iron Giant
's G-man, Kent Mansley) as the supervillain Hourglass, Superhero Movie
plays like a real (albeit really cheap) Marvel Universe knockoff that was shanghaied by the Wayans gang and then minimalized by Reducto from Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
. Even cameos from Airplane!
-er Robert Hays and Forbidden Planet
eer-cum-comedy-stalwart Nielson can't supersize the yuks on what turns out to be a mere annoyance of a spoof. Bah, puny insect!