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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

‘Superhero!’ — like ‘Scary Movie’ with capes

It’s enough to ruin your whole day. You’re zipping through the afternoon perfectly ignorant of the depths of depravity to which humanity can descend, and then it lands in your email inbox: a press release, though it’s more like a grenade.

The deal? The Weinstein brothers are continuing their rampage through cinema with a new superhero flick. It’s not based on a beloved comic book. It’s not a big-screen adaptation of a retro-cool TV show. It’s not a fresh new take on an old-fashioned caped crusader.

It’s Superhero!, and it will come from Weinstein’s Dimension Films division. Yes, that’s the one responsible for the Scary Movies. And Superhero! is coming from the deep, ugly recesses of the same folks who brought us those travesties. No, not the first two Scary Movies, which were merely unbearable forced marches through pop culture: Superhero!’s writer/director, Craig Mazin, wrote Scary Movie 3 and 4, which are now banned by the Geneva Convention (though they’re on the regular viewing schedule of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay); Superhero! producer David Zucker directed them. (And — be very afraid — there’s a fifth one coming next year).
Now, to be fair, Mazin did direct 2000’s superhero spoof The Specials, which some folks love despite the fact that the occasional laughs and flashes of clever wit and pulp wisdom are too frequently overshadowed by cheap crudity. Then again, Mazin also wrote Disney’s 1997 catastrophe RocketMan, so we’re back where we started.

And where is that? As Dimension wants it known:

“Superhero” will follow in the traditions of “Airplane” and “Naked Gun” in spoofing the conventions of the popular superhero movie genre.

If only. We’ve never seen another comedy even approach the brilliance of 1980’s Airplane!, and if a Scary Movie-esque collection of lame references to American Idol slapped together with explosive defecation is the best they can do, we never will. The aforementioned press release quotes Bob Weinstein as saying, “Craig and David are comedic geniuses.” Has he seen Scary Movie 4? It seems unlikely.

Who has agreed to sell his creative soul to appear in this movie? Of course Zucker and Mazin are hauling out octogenarian Leslie Nielsen again — my first thought when I heard this news was, He’s still alive?, and my second thought was, Would someone please leave the poor old guy alone? Also among the cast are Jeffrey Tambor and — oh no! — Brent Spiner. What sin could a man commit in a single lifetime that would doom him to this ignominious fate?

Superhero! is scheduled at the moment for release in March 2008. I think I’ll plan to be a coma that weekend.

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