Finally, the guys behind the outrageously silly “Scary Movie” franchise have used their own ‘special powers’ to spoof superhero movies. After being bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly, high school loser Rick Riker develop superhuman abilities like incredible strength and armored skin. Rick decides to use his new powers for good and becomes a crime fighter known as “The Dragonfly.”
However, standing in the way of his destiny is the villainous Lou Landers. After an experiment gone wrong, Lou develops the power to steal a person’s life force and in a dastardly quest for immortality becomes the supervillain, “The Hourglass.” With unimaginable strength, unbelievable speed and deeply uncomfortable tights, will the Dragonfly be able to stop the sands of The Hourglass and save the world? More importantly, will we stop laughing long enough to notice?
How many superheroes does it take to save the world? The creators of `The Naked Gun’ and `Scary Movie’ answer this question in hysterical `David Zucker’fashion with the uproarious comedy `Superhero Movie.’ Meet Rick Riker. He’s young, he’s cool and he’s got superpowers. Now, if he only knew how to use them… but the world is in danger and no one is safe when Zucker and the gang – headed by the hilarious cast of Drake Bell, Leslie Nielsen, Tracy Morgan, Pamela Anderson, Regina Hall and many others – take aim at some of the biggest blockbusters of our time including Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, and Fantastic Four, to name a few. On March 28th, learning to fly, spinning a web and busting a gut has never been this much fun.
The Creative Team
Superhero Movie reunites writer-director Craig Mazin with producers Bob Weiss and David Zucker. “I’m fortunate to be able to work with Craig Mazin and David Zucker again,” Weiss says. “I did Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 with them and it’s great to be able to work with guys that are also your friends. You develop professional shorthand.” Mazin co-wrote Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4, which were both directed by Zucker.
Mazin also had the purest of motivations at heart: “I like making audiences laugh. That’s really the only reason to do these movies. These movies are about going into a theater and laughing consistently through eighty or ninety minutes.” There is, of course, an art to spoofing a genre. David Zucker, who directed Airplane, The Naked Gun, The Naket Gun ½ and Scary Movie 3 and 4, notes that audiences react in an interesting way to the very specific type of humor offered by a spoof movie. “Audiences share a general reference. Everybody goes to superhero movies, and they enjoy them,” Zucker says of this specific genre. “I enjoyed all the Airport movies back in the `70s. Even though I enjoyed them, when those characters like Robert Stack or Peter Graves or Charlton Heston would say serious lines, as an audience you’re filling in the jokes.”
What’s more, the producers found a genre that had not yet been spoofed. “A few years ago we talked about what unexplored areas there we that we could parody,” producer Bob Weiss recalls of the initial impetus to put Superhero Movie together. “We realized that a good scouring of the superhero genre hadn’t really happened.”
“I love superhero movies, always have,” Mazin says. “I’ve been a comic book reader since I was a kid. The genre lends itself to this because it tends to feature very similar elements. Many of these films follow a social outcast who is struck by a bolt out of the blue, struggles and wrestles with his powers and what they mean for his identity. Somebody that he loves dies because he either took the wrong action or didn’t act at all. There’s a girl. His secret identity comes between him and the girl. These things keep repeating over and over again.”
As Mazin delved further into the research and writing process, he began to recognize additional motifs that were present in most superhero films: “I think all good superhero movies are about a character learning how to be a successful superhero. At first you have to struggle with how to use your powers and about who you are. That’s always a bit of a trick. In the end, you’re not really a successful superhero until you conquer your greatest enemy, and that’s not always a super villain: sometimes it’s yourself and whatever is holding you back from being a real hero. That’s the journey Rick has to take here.”
Rick, portrayed by Drake Bell, is at the center of the storyline of Superhero Movie, as is his alter ego, Dragonfly. Mazin describes the character, as well as his comedic opportunities: “He has super strength and super agility. He can climb walls. He’s pretty good at street fighting. His skin is armored. He is impervious to just about anything except titanium blades. He has a great green costume like every good superhero should have.”
Zucker believes that in order to have a successful spoof, the joke must be on the characters. “The characters can’t realize they’re in a spoof. But one thing that we have learned is, to a certain extent that the audience wants to take the characters seriously. In Airplane, Robert Hayes is flying the plane down and we didn’t realize, even at the time, that people really wanted him to land the plane safely. Originally, we did a lot of silly, stupid jokes as he was flying the plane down. We had to take them out because it took you out of the movie and audiences really wanted to see the character succeed.”
Though the filmmakers enjoy the ribbing this forum offers them, Mazin points out that their jokes are all in good fun. “You can’t really spoof something unless you love it. We loved all the movies that we spoofed in the Scary Movie series. We certainly we love the movies that we spoof here: Spiderman, Batman and the whole genre.”
The whole genre includes also includes a good needling to superhero favorites Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Superman. Regina Hall, who is personally responsible for many of the laughs in the Scary Movie franchise, notes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Hall comments: “It’s all in good fun. If we’re spoofing it, it just means that it’s already a success. We can’t spoof something unless we figure the audience knows it. By the time we get to it, it’s already a hit. It’s kind of an honor.”
Casting and Production
Assembling the cast of Superhero Movie was an exciting process for the producers and director, who blended new, up-and-coming talent with some seasoned spoof movie veterans.
Actor and musician Drake Bell plays “Rick Ricker” and “The Dragonfly.” Bell starred for four seasons on Nickelodeon’s hit series “Drake and Josh” and as a regular alongside Amanda Bynes on Nickelodeon’s “The Amanda Show.”
Joining the production of a superhero movie spoof came with the responsibility of lots of pratfalls: “Just wearing the suit alone is a little bit of a difficulty,” Mazin says. “Getting the suit on was enough, but we hung him upside down in the rain. I think he had to fall about a thousand times.”
Nevertheless, Bell was eager to be a part of the Superhero Movie team. “I grew up on Airplane and Naked Gun,” Bell says. “Once I heard who was making this movie, I was immediately interested in joining up.”
In fact, Bell was on the road with his band when he was first approached by Zucker. “We tracked him down and he was on tour with his band in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,” Zucker remembers. “I was in Milwaukee at the time visiting my family. I had to take a plane from Milwaukee to Harrisburg, of all places, and we read him and he was great. We came back and got the studio to sign him up. I think he’s just a natural at this kind of comedy.”
“I’m pretty much `Peter Parker’: the nerdy kid at school,” Bell says of Rick Ricker. “He’s a photographer who can’t get the girl and is very insecure until he is bitten by a dragonfly. I try to save people, but I’m a bumbling idiot.”
Mazin agrees with the actor’s character description: “He tries to help people he ends up causing more trouble then he was trying to prevent. In the end, he’s going to have to figure out what it really means to be a hero and that’s how he’s going to save the day and get that girl.”
“That girl” is Sara Paxton, a fellow child actor who has developed into a sought-after ingénue. Paxton recently starred in `tween’ favorites Sydney White and Aquamarine. “Sara Paxton was a wonderful surprise,” Weiss says. “She was really wonderful. We were looking for someone that could be vulnerable and could be a strong character next to Rick Ricker. Sara really brings some interesting traits to the role of Jill.”
“Sara is twenty-one, but her maturity level is far beyond her years,” Weiss says. “Like Drake, she’s been acting since she was a kid. I cast her because I was looking for someone who is naturally funny, but who brought sexiness and purity at the same time. I wanted her to be the girl next door who didn’t understand how crazy she made guys around her and Sara just was the perfect casting choice for that.”
“Jill is caught in between her feelings for the Dragonfly, Rick and for her boyfriend Lance,” Paxton says of her character’s romantic quandary. “Lance is kind of a jerk, but unfortunately Jill isn’t very bright, so she feels like she has to be loyal to Lance, but she really is taken aback by the Dragonfly, when he pops in and rescues her and she sees him on the cover of the newspaper, she instantly falls for him hard.”
Paxton was happy to work with producer David Zucker: “David Zucker, is here every day and he gives us all advice daily. It’s cool to be able to get advice and help from somebody who is the master of these types of movies. When I found out he was producing this, I thought, `Wow, Airplane, Naked Gun. That’s really cool.’”
“Veronica Mars” alumnus Ryan Hansen rounds out the love triangle as Lance. “Superhero movies are so big because they’re great underdog stories,” Hansen says. “Ours is a true underdog story. You’re rooting for Dragonfly the whole time.”
“We all grew up with superhero movies and comic books,” Hansen adds. “So finally being able to spoof it on the big screen is pretty rewarding.”
Christopher McDonald plays Lou Landers and Hourglass, Superhero”s resident villain. McDonald joined the production largely because of the dedication of Mazin. “He has got one of the quickest minds,” McDonald says of the writer-director. “He’s funny and just has an undying energy. David Zucker is also a genius in the, in this area and a great guy. To have them both behind the camera gives you a lot of confidence because you know they are never going to move on until they know they have just what they want.”
Regina Hall, a veteran of every Scary Movie film, plays Mrs. Xavier, wife to Tracy Morgan’s Xavier. “This is the second time Tracy and I have worked together. Tracy is a really smart, talented funny guy. I’ve been watching him since `Saturday Night Live’ and I watch him now on `30 Rock.’ He’s just so talented.”
Admittedly, Hall had different expectations of what her cameo would entail: “Originally I thought I was going to have a `Storm’ suit on, so I thought, `Oh, I have to try and get sexy for that.’ I came in and they said `No, you’re wearing a three piece suit and being fitted for a bald cap.’”
Hall also had the distinct honor of sparring with Pamela Anderson. Hall comments: “I get to have a cat fight with Pamela Anderson. There are a lot of men who are probably very jealous of me right now. She’s so sweet and so lovely. I found her to be a joy.”
If she could choose to be a superhero, Hall would have an enviable power: “I’d be the one that can eat everything and not gain a pound. I’d be `Food Girl’ and I’d have an `F’ on my chest.” Her tagline? “No Food Is Safe.”
Tracy Morgan plays Xavier, a character that bears an uncanny resemblance to Patrick Stewart’s character in X-Men. Morgan was happy to team up with Hall for a second time and to work with a new creative team: “I worked with Regina Hall before but this is my first time working with this group people. It’s beautiful. We get to play around and I get to be in a bald cap, so it’s fun.”
Pamela Anderson, who had a memorable pillow fight a la The Grudge in Scary Movie 3, happily agreed to up the ante with Hall and the creative team behind Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4: “These guys are so much fun and I’m just having a good time being here and I’m happy they asked me to come back.”
“They are all hysterical and I’m a big fan of Regina and Tracy,” Anderson adds. “And Drake Bell is popular with my kids so they’ll be thrilled.”
Marion Ross, who many know as `Mrs. C’ from “Happy Days” was also pleased to be a part of Superhero Movie. Interestingly, it was not her first time sharing the screen with Drake Bell. Bell explains: “Marion’s so sweet. I worked with Marion on an `ABC After School Special’ called `Me and My Hormones.’ I was ten years old. She’s so friendly. It’s as if she’s at a family reunion instead of a movie set.”
Paxton agrees, noting that her on-screen persona might be a little misleading: “I think she’s everybody’s second mother, but she’s feisty too and you don’t expect that. She’s a little ball of fire.”
“Marion Ross is America’s mom and in this role she is wonderfully nurturing,” Mazin says. “She gives Rick some great advice, although she is a little off in her own special way. If you can see the scene where she’s stuffing the thanksgiving turkey, you’ll know what I mean.”
Ross remembers how Mazin wooed her for the part: “Would you believe that the Craig Mazin came to my house? Usually you have to go to the office or they look at some film for an audition. He said, `I would like to come out and see you.’ He spent an hour with me and I felt very flattered by that. I liked him immensely. He’s a wonderful, smart young man.”
Leslie Nielsen, who is by now a master of deadpan humor, joined frequent collaborators Zucker, Weiss and Mazin.
“It was great to be able to work with Leslie again in the Scary Movie series,” Bob Weiss says. “In the last picture he played the President of the United States. In this picture he’s the uncle of our lead actor and it’s wonderful because Leslie has a great sense of humor, he knows this style of comedy, we’re personal friends. It really makes it great to work together.”
“Leslie Nielsen teaches Rick about what it means to be a hero,” Mazin says. “We had him on Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 and it’s always a pleasure and an honor. He’s a spoof institution and of course before he ever played any of those characters he had thirty years of work behind him.”
Kevin Hart, who had roles in Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4 returns for Superhero Movie as Trey. “We met Kevin Hart back on Scary Movie 3 when he came to a script reading with a friend to help out,” Zucker recalls. “He was very funny. We wrote a part for him and Anthony Anderson in Scary Movie 3. We always have Kevin along. This is a much bigger part for him.”
Superhero Movie (2008)
Directed by: Craig Mazin
Starring: Drake Bell, Sara Paxton, Christopher McDonald, Leslie Nielsen, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross, Ryan Hansen, Jeffrey Tambor, Brent Spiner, Keith Davaid, Sam Cohen
Screenplay by: Craig Mazin
Production Design by: Bob Ziembicki
Cinematography by: Thomas E. Ackerman
Film Editing by: Andrew S. Heisen
Costume Design by: Carol Ramsey
Set Decoration by: Jill Sprayregen Henkel
Art Direction by: James F. Truesdale
Music by: James L. Venable
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for for crude and sexual content, comic violence, drug references and language.
Distributed by: Dimension Films
Release Date: March 28, 2008