When anything-for-a-laugh blockbuster parodists send up horror films or date movies, part of the joke is the way that the plots of various hits are stitched together into a Frankenstein’s monster of franchise silliness. Epic Movie works in a different way. You might think that the assorted story elements of The Chronicles of Narnia, the Pirates of the Caribbean and X-Men films, The Da Vinci Code, and even Nacho Libre would elbow each other in a delightfully skewed fashion, but actually, what’s funny is how perfectly their obligatory fight scenes and ”heroic” arcs all merge. It turns out that they’re all pretentious in the same pandering, sentimental way, and to call attention to that is a pretty good gag.
Where Epic Movie fails to rise to the occasion is in mocking those pretensions. Despite all the scatological high jinks on display, most of the satire is affectionate rather than merciless; the movie never dares to urinate on the hand that feeds. There are tasty tidbits, though, like the earnest gay beaver from the land of Gnarnia (ruled by a character known as the White Bitch), or a tweak of The Da Vinci Code’s insanely arbitrary chain logic, or a sex scene in which the blue-skinned shape-shifter Mystique sprouts a badonkadonk butt as the very proper British chap gyrating beneath her offers a fearsomely well-enunciated ”That’s what I’m talking about!” Epic Movie is just timely enough to conclude with a wink and a nod to Borat. I only wish that it had been bold enough to go Borat on him.