Disaster! (2005) / Animation-Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content, including some aberrant situations, and for violence, gore, language, and brief drug use.
Running Time: 82 min.
Cast (voices): Jim Cummings, Glenn Morshower, Danny Mann, Steve Mackel, Jeannie Elias, Heather Capps, Isaac Singleton Jr., Glenn Takajian, Matt Sullivan, Motley Crue
Director: Roy T. Wood
Screenplay: Paul Benson, Matt Sullivan
Review published September 24, 2006
The tagline for Disaster! reads, "In space, no one can hear you fart". While this line is an obvious spoof of the tagline for Alien, it also doesn't hold true, as we hear the characters in the film fart and fart and fart again. In fact, it's hard to remember a scene where someone doesn't fart. If there is, it's only because they are engaging in some other activity, such as drooling, puking, defecating, copulating with animals, or getting disemboweled. Soon enough, you'll come to enjoy the moments of flatulence, as at least that act doesn't involve bodily fluids or waste material splashing across the screen. Consider yourself warned; it's that kind of movie.
At its core, Disaster! is a very scatological spoof on the Bay/Bruckheimer blockbuster Armageddon, incorporating smaller bits and pieces of other well-known disaster films along the way. The plot concerns the discovery of a planetoid heading straight for Earth, which would surely destroy civilization as we know it upon impact. The government, working with the space agency known as ASSA, hire on the services of Harry Bottoms, one of the world's leading volcano experts, to head up a mission into space to stop the planetoid, with assistance from other disaster specialists.
Looking at the credentials of the writing and directing team, you won't find any previous experience in feature filmmaking. After watching the entirety of Disaster!, I wasn't surprised to find that director Wood, former contributor to "MAD-TV", had made a previous animated short film called "Star Trak", which had the "Star Trek" crew traveling to help the Turds on Uranus. It is abundantly clear that Wood has not matured in terms of what he finds funny since he was about nine years old. There isn't much more to the film than some very redundant gags of a crudely sexual, grotesquely bloody, or disturbingly gross variety. Most people will probably recognize Wood's graphically gory work from the popular MTV series, "Celebrity Death Match".
Although it was in production at the same time, it doesn't help the film's reputation that the premise of this film is nearly identical to that of 2004's Team America: World Police, another animated adult spoof on the Bruckheimer style of filmmaking. If you've seen that film, you have already experienced much of how Disaster! plays out, except they've snipped out all of the political aspects in order to showcase more scenes of sex, decapitations and pooping. Some people found Team America to be a funny, crass satire, but Wood, Benson and Sullivan might attract a similar reaction from others because of how equally disgusting it is willing to be, and not due to the topical content. It seems a decided effort that they are trying to make a similar film that would put all others to shame as far as how depraved they are willing to get, as if involved in a juvenile game of "what's grosser than gross" with its more creative competitor. If there's a movie in the future that will try to be more repulsive than Disaster!, they might have to hand out barf bags at the ticket office.
Giving the film a bit of credit, the animation is actually pretty good, as are the special effects, so from a technical standpoint, Disaster! doesn't quite live up to its name as a film. It is certainly energetic, and some of the spoofing isn't terrible in small doses, but the real problem is the cumulative effect of all of the shamelessly tasteless humor. I'm no prude; I find sex, poop and fart jokes as funny as most guys do, but as used here, it seems merely a device used to instill laughs when there are no other jokes to be explored. The campfire scene in Blazing Saddles remains one of the funniest and most memorable in any comedy, but can you imagine how unfunny that scene would be if Mel Brooks had exposed us to a half-dozen scenes of flatulence jokes leading up to it?
Disaster! will probably have a cult following among people who love anything that wallows in vulgar, immoral envelope pushing. It is excessively rude and crude, so if you are of a mindset where everything you find funny has to more to do with how far things are willing to go in terms of bad taste more so than truly clever or original wit, perhaps you will enjoy Disaster! much more than I had been able. The most mystifying aspect of the film among a great many is in trying to pin down just what demographic this movie is shooting for, as it is far too juvenile for most adults, and far too adult for most juveniles.
©2006 Vince Leo