Vampires Suck

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In “Vampires Suck,” the “Twilight” spoof by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the Bella character points out the Cullen family and asks a classmate about them. The classmate says:

Their skin is ice-cold, they feed on human flesh, and they all sleep in coffins. Maybe they’re Canadian.

In my own “Twilight” parody script, widely disseminated on the Internetz in 2008, the classmate in the same situation says:

They avoid direct sunlight, they don’t eat food, they sleep in coffins in a graveyard, and holy water burns them. I think they’re Canadians.

I am comforted to know that while Friedberg and Seltzer cannot produce actual humor themselves, at least they know a good joke when they see one.

It looked for a while like we’d seen the last of these two paralyzingly untalented writer-directors. After a 30-month span in which they released “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” “Meet the Spartans,” and “Disaster Movie”, they were silent. “Disaster Movie” made considerably less money than the others had. Perhaps the market for broad, derivative pop-culture spoofs had dried up.

Ah, but then along came “Twilight.” It’s almost as popular to hate that franchise as it is to love it, so Friedberg and Seltzer knew they’d have a built-in audience. Plus, it’s an audience that’s generally too young to remember (or know, or care) that this spoof comes from the same people who made some really, really awful comedies a few years ago. It’s making fun of “Twilight”? Sold!

“Vampires Suck” actually does represent a step forward for Friedberg and Seltzer. Their past atrocities have been embarrassing mishmashes of lame references to whatever was current. “Disaster Movie,” for example, was only barely a spoof of disaster movies; it also included “jokes” (under certain broad definitions of the term) about “Juno” and “Sex and the City,” plus “impersonations” (see previous parenthetical) of easy targets like Dr. Phil and Amy Winehouse. “Vampires Suck” is surprisingly restrained. Apart from momentary (and unfunny) references to “Alice in Wonderland” and “Dear John,” it focuses almost exclusively on parodying the plots of “Twilight” and “New Moon.”

In other words, it achieves the basic minimum level of narrative competence. Break out the champagne!

Still not funny, though. People have been cracking jokes about glittery vampires and shirtless werewolves for almost two years — eons in pop-culture time — and “Vampires Suck” doesn’t come up with any new ones. Much of the dialogue is written after the fashion of the old MAD Magazine movie satires, where the characters vocalize their thoughts matter-of-factly — a style that works when it appears in dialogue bubbles in comic books, not when it’s coming out of the mouths of real people. Many of the gags refer to specific elements of the “Twilight” films, to the extent that if you haven’t seen those movies (and have the people who hate “Twilight” the most actually seen them?) you won’t get the joke.

Also, an awful lot of the gags are related to punching someone. The only jokes that are lazier are the ones involving bodily functions, of which there are also several.

I will say this, though. Jenn Proske, who plays the Bella character, does a respectable job of mimicking Kristen Stewart’s mannerisms, like biting her lip and pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. Where Matt Lanter and Christopher N. Riggi, as the Edward and Jacob characters, merely try to pull off a physical resemblance, Proske actually does an impersonation of the character. Her performance is so close to what a real actor would do in a real spoof that I’m surprised Friedberg and Seltzer didn’t burst into flames when they saw it.

D- (1 hr., 20 min.; PG-13, some profanity, a lot of vulgarity and innuendo, brief nonsexual nudity, comic violence.)

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