Craig Mazin who wrote, produced and directed 'Superhero Movie' is pretty much a guy's guy. He walks into a room and greets everyone with a handshake and a smile, cracking jokes; he's a guy I would want to go have a beer with while watching a college basketball game on a Sunday afternoon mostly because you know he's going to entertain you during the commercial breaks. 'Superhero Movie' spoofs such classic comic book heroes as Batman, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and Superman.
Originally David Zucker, one of the Producers of 'Superhero Movie' intended to make an original comedy in the world of superheroes and not a spoof. "David and I see eye to eye on this. We love the idea of a Naked Gun approach to this where you are spoofing a genre, but you have an original character and an original villain and there is an original plot. There are scenes that are not direct parodies of other movies. That was our intention and I think through the process of working with a studio we got about half way there. Our initial intention comes through in some things. There was some pressure and I understand this as spoof has evolved from the time of 'Airplane'. You know everyone says 'Airplane' never spoofed a movie when in fact 'Airplane' spoofed a movie so closely that they actually had to give Arthur Haley credit. It spoofs a movie called Zero Hour almost word for word sometimes. I like that. Here we can concentrate on one movie. I'm not sure we succeeded how we wanted to, but the movie makes us laugh and we'll settle for that."
As clearly someone who is a fan of the spoof movie genre Mazin doesn't think all spoof movies are good. "I think as a fan of the genre things have gotten bad out there. There is always a pressure. I think studios think that what makes spoof movies good is the amount of movies you can make fun of in seventy minutes, but in the case of Meet the Spartans forty minutes. Not that our movie is an epic. Yea I think something has gone weird. Meet the Spartans I feel those guys are more pop culture reference movies. Some of its movie, some of its television, some of its music and some of its new stories. I mean we would always throw in a little thing like in this movie we threw in Tom Cruise. I'm more of a fan of traditional spoof. The genre is more driven by a younger audience and I think the fun for them is seeing the familiarity. I may be quickly growing out of date with what's spoof, but I think the genre needs help."
So what does Mazin look for when writing a spoof? "We do watch the movies to extract the moments that we think could parody and spoof, but before we ever put a movie in we kind of know if it will work or not. The basic criteria are is it a good movie, do people like it, is it serious, is it earnest? If it is a good, earnest movie that people like, parody it, spoof it because that's what they want. They like seeing the movies they love being made fun of. We did it with great success with 'The Signs' and 'The Ring' and 'Spider-Man' does it very well. 'Spider-Man' was a really good movie and 'Spider-Man 2' was a really good movie. They had a romance, which always plays great in these movies like a real romance in a traditional sort of way. I've always tried to sell a romance even though the characters are moronic they really do love each other, which makes you fear for their children?"
A blu-ray version is in the works and a DVD cut has just wrapped. "I've seen the movie in super awesome high def, but I kind of want to see what it will look like on my TV. I don't even have a blu-ray player yet, but I will and I am kind of excited to see how it translates. The effects look great on high def. because they are created digitally and they don't have to go to film. Everything is very definitive and there is a sharpness to it."
As for the DVD, what can we expect? "We'll certainly have a commentary. One thing I want in a DVD and maybe I'm a nerd, but I want to throw up some script pages to show how they evolved because we go far off field in some places. I always wanted to show how scenes evolved and we have a ton of storyboards. Also because it's a superhero film we have all these great costumes we never got to use stuff like that."
There have been a lot of technological changes in filmmaking in recent years. Would Mazin be interested in working on something in 3-D? "I was reading about it in the DGA magazine and a really cool article about a symposium that they just did with Jim Cameron and Steven Spielberg. I want to see it. For comedy I am just a little worried. You don't want people to be paying attention to anything other than the jokes. That's why South Park to me is very representative of how one should approach something, broad comedy like we do. It's the most crude animation ever. I think that's one of the reasons it's great. You aren't looking at anything fancy there. You don't need anything fancy. Is it funny? Does it make you laugh? With 3-D, if I did a broad comedy it would be cool, but if I were to do some other kind of film I would definitely consider it. I'm sure everything I'm saying now was said seventy years ago by some guy who said color would never catch on, but I'm curious how it evolves. I don't know if audiences want 3-D. Let's see if they want it."
'Superhero Movie' is rated PG-13; was that rating a challenge for filmmaker Mazin? "This film in its funniest state was rated R. I don't think fairly; we had to make some cuts that hurt. Apparently two balloons having sex gets you an R rating. They don't have mouths or anything. Smooth cylinders, but apparently an oral sex position in balloons is an R. So the nice thing is that people can see that on the DVD. I personally think the cut we have on the DVD should be rated PG-13. If I were to do an R rated spoof I would want to take advantage of it, but it's not me. I love nudity, but the idea of filming nudity seems strange or at least with a crew."
The casting process for any film can be an arduous one so what was the process like for Mazin? "Casting these movies is really hard. First of all you have to find actors who can commit to doing these parts as if it's not a comedy. It's a tricky thing to do. Any actor wants to help, that's their craft, take these words and make them better. We almost say ignore the words, ignore the fact that you said something absolutely ridiculous. You have to find actors who have the personality who can commit to that, but also funny. It's hard to find. It was a really exhaustive search, but man did I get lucky. I mean what a great cast. I was hoping 80% of them would be cool. I could deal with like 20% dicks, but they were all cool. I got friends out of this. Drake is fantastic, Sara is fantastic, Leslie we have worked with before so he is part of the family, and Marion was wonderful. Tracy Morgan what a delight. Regina, we worked with, we bring back people that we know are in our world, in our little repertory movie."
Is there a sequel in the works? "I don't know. This is really exhausting. Maybe one will be fine." As for the Scary movie franchise, "I think the studio may be planning that. I just can't do anything with the number five on it, that's just my deal."
So with 'Superhero Movie' being released on Friday does Mazin have anything in the works? "Well my wife told me I had to take the month off, so I am taking a month off. There is a little something I might be writing for Bruckheimer. Beyond that I need to take a little bit of a break. It's been an exhausting year so I purposefully did not line anything up. I just want to sit back and see what happens."
In the meantime you can see what happens in Mazin's film 'Superhero Movie' when it opens today.