Barely qualifying as parody, let alone satire, the latest salvo from the Date Movie duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer is a collection of pop-culture references so broad and obvious, they struggle to qualify as jokes. Plucking the signature scenes from a grab bag of recent hit movies, Disaster Movie strings them together with a plot that has commitment-phobic Matt Lanter dodging earth-destroying asteroids to reunite with estranged squeeze Vanessa Minnillo. Although that plot is obviously swiped from Cloverfield, Friedberg and Seltzer never actually get around to spoofing the movie's first-person shakycam gimmick; they're too busy taking potshots at sitting ducks. Take that, Michael Jackson! Although a handful of D-list celebs (Carmen Electra, Kim Kardashian) show up as themselves, the vast majority of the celebrity impressions are of the "Look! It's " variety, which is often the only way to tell who you're supposed to be looking at.
Coming barely seven months after Meet The Spartans, Disaster Movie has the feel of make-work churned out on deadline. Friedberg and Seltzer give no indication they've actually watched most of the movies they're parodying: the gags, so to speak, invariably involve some character (like, say, No Country For Old Men's Anton Chigurh) abruptly showing up, quoting a few lines from the trailer, and then scurrying offstage before anyone might have to write them something original. The flood of scattershot references is so witless, it makes Family Guy look like Jonathan Swift. When the well runs dry (which, needless to say, is often), the movie falls back on fight scenes. Think the idea of Juno roundhouse-kicking Sex And The City's Carrie Bradshaw is a hoot and a half? You've come to the right place.
At the risk of encouraging the dastardly duo to strike again, the movie does have some exceedingly rare bright spots: Crista Flanagan's Ellen Page impression is good enough to sustain a handful of scenes, and the attack by a bloodthirsty Alvin and the Chipmunks is sufficiently random to pass as inspired. But even at barely over an hour—padded out to contractual feature length with a series of outtakes that, frightening thought, weren't funny enough to make the final cut—the movie goes flat in record time. It's too easy to say Disaster Movie deserves its title, but why put more effort into trashing it than the filmmakers did into writing it?