Watch out for this stinker lurking in the new release section of your favorite entertainment superstore. Watching Comic Book: The Movie (Miramax) in the hopes of ingesting some light comic entertainment is like taking a big swig of milk right out of the carton and winding up with a mouthful of sour, curdled chunks.
Comic Book: The Movie is a Spinal Tap-styled mockumentary billed as a "wildly funny journey into the world of comic book fandom." It was directed by Mark Hamill (yes, that Mark Hamill), who also has the lead role as Donald Swan, a nerdy comic book store owner hired by a big Hollywood studio to create a documentary about the fictitious old school comic book hero (Commander Courage) who is undergoing a high-tech makeover (into Codename: Courage) for the sake of a glitzy new superhero film project. Together with his crew and small band of followers, Swan hopes eventually to save the dignity of his beloved comic book character from the evil and exploitative Hollywood executives.
Now there are some clever and hilarious mockumentaries out there (A Mighty Wind, Best in Show and Spinal Tap itself immediately spring to mind), but I'm here to warn you that this isn't one of them. I was sitting there slack-jawed and thoroughly hating Comic Book within the first two or three minutes. The first thing you notice is how bad it looks (obviously shot on video). Second, as he so adequately proved in the first Star Wars trilogy, Mark Hamill cannot act. Even in this largely unscripted, ad-lib, quasi-documentary format, his lines and those of the numbskull cast sound labored (the rocker-doofus camera guy is especially awful). And the jokes are D.O.A.
Even an endless string of cameos by usually funny (or at least reasonably entertaining) celebrities -- filmmaker Kevin Smith, Marvel Comics magnate Stan Lee, playboy Hugh Hefner, Simpsons creator Matt Groening and Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell -- can't pull this bomb out of its tailspin.
Incredibly, this is a two-disc set with bonus extras so mediocre -- except, perhaps, for Stan Lee's perspective on comic book movies -- that no one, not even the most unrepentant comic book geek, could bear to sit through them.
Publication date: 1/29/04