The Onion Movie & r & & r & by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & ILARIOUS FAKE NEWSPAPER STUNS READERS BY BANISHING HUMOR IN ILL-FATED DVD; Five-years-in-the-making film release greeted by chirping crickets, occasional notices in backwater tabloids.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," was all former Onion CEO Chet Mills could offer in between pulls of espresso at his new job.

That's how the brilliant Onion newspaper/Website might skewer its own creation, The Onion Movie. And maybe an Onion story on this DVD might be the only way to salvage a few laughs from this debacle, because except for a few yuks early on, you won't find many in the film.

It all started at the University of Wisconsin in 1988, when two starving students started the fake newspaper, named for the onion sandwiches they ate when they were seriously broke. (One of them, Tim Keck, went on to publish Seattle's The Stranger.) Now the Onion claims nearly 700,000 readers who are addicted to their mix of man-bites-dog stories subbing for serious news -- as in items headlined "Drugs Win Drug War" or "Frederick's of Anchorage Debuts Crotchless Long Underwear."

The Onion was doing fake news way before it got cool on The Daily Show.

So what happened? First green-lit in 2003, the Amazon Women on the Moon-like collection of sketches fell into a stew of Hollywood clich & eacute;s -- new writers, new directors, a new distributor. This month it finally hit video stores -- all 76 minutes of it, complete with the usual assortment of jokes about Blacks, old people and cripples. But what can be hilarious (in an oh-so-very-wrong way) in print lands with a thud on film -- not even Steven Seagal as a particularly focused action hero can save it.

Or maybe it's all a bone-dry joke on how bad a based-on-a-newspaper, straight-to-DVD release would be. If you watch it as a carefully orchestrated parody, so utterly and intentionally bad that it skewers the entirety of Hollywood, maybe it makes some kind of inspired, Onion-worthy statement on the singular idiocy of our dumb century.

But I just wanted to laugh. (Unrated)

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