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Comic Book: The Movie
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by Scott Weinberg

"An affectionate (and often rather amusing) look at the comic book geeks."
4 stars

Say what you will about the various types of fanboys out there, but one thing seems fairly certain: the geeks do know how to laugh at themselves.

Ask any hardcore Star Trek fan if they mined some giggles from that goofy Trekkies documentary, or if any of us crazed movie freaks had a good time when Kevin Smith poked fun at us in his Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. To be a devoted and passionate fan of a certain medium sometimes means sometimes sacrificing your dignity, whether you choose to dress up like Darth Vader at the opening night of Attack of the Clones or you plan to don your 35-pound Klingon costume at next weekend's comic book convention.

See, the movie geeks and the comic geeks and the sci-fi geeks and the Tolkien geeks know full well that those "not in the know" may point and giggle, but these geeks are having too good a time in their own collective fantasy world to even notice. Plus every once in a while one of their own will deliver a movie that accurately depicts (while poking a little good-natured fun) at the world of uber-geekdom. It doesn't seem too surprising to learn that one of the better homages to Fanboy Obsession would come from one of the modern era's reigning geek-heroes: Mark Hamill.

Yep, Luke Skywalker himself, it turns out, is a huge comic book aficionado in real life. Using his knowledge of, and passion for, the comic book universe, Hamill set out to deliver a sort of Spinal Tap-esque mockumentary set in the world of Superheroes and the Nerds of Love Them.

Though much of Comic Book: The Movie is a generally shapeless and scattershot affair, the bulk of the plot goes like this: Hollywood is planning a big-budget adaptation of the classic "Captain Courage" character. Not surprisingly, the studio suits aim to 'modernize' the character so as to make him more exciting to today's younger audience. After learning that his beloved superhero is about to undergo a garish facelift, comics enthusiast Bob Swan (Hamill) sets out to help the filmmakers see the err of their ways.

Swan manages to finagle some interviews with the likes of Bruce Campbell, Stan Lee and Kevin Smith (which represent some of the movie's best moments) and even gets hired on as a creative consultant for the newly-retitled "Codename Courage" movie. All of this is merely an admittedly flimsy framework on which to hang a decent amount of solid (and often seemingly improvisational) comedy bits about the enthusiasm displayed by the comic nuts.

Indeed the flick's final third act seems to take place entirely at the San Diego Comic-Con; the whats and the wherefores of the upcoming "Codename Courage" flick becomes all but inconsequential as Hamill and his crew wander through the con, desperately hoping nobody will yell out "Hey, it's MARK HAMILL!", thereby ruining a perfectly good faux-documentary sequence.

When Comic Book: The Movie works, it does so for two specific reasons, both of which can be directly attributed to Hamill himself. The director and his goofy little movie A) clearly know a whole lot about comic books and the movies they've spawned, and B) obviously have a lot of affection for those who spend their days (and, yes, their cash) poring over comic books, action movies, Star Trek reruns - or whatever it may be that gets their geeky little hearts pumping. It's not nasty enough to be a truly satisfying parody, but Comic Book still succeeds, albeit in intermittent fashion. One wonders what a movie like this would look like if a comic-book neophyte (or even a comics-hater) had approached the subject.

Plus, there's an entire second disc of material, much of which will prove invaluable to geeks of all varieties: there's a raucous full-length cast commentary, an hour-long "Behind the Voices" panel that features many of the most famous voice-actors working today, several featurettes on the movie's production, deleted scenes and extended interview segments, trailers and a few more goodies. So if you're already a fan of the movie, thank Miramax for delivering a curiously overstuffed DVD package!

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originally posted: 05/19/04 10:15:53
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User Comments

3/17/15 Dane Youssef A fun "mockumentary 4 stars
10/12/05 John Campbell Well worth a look! Most entertaining and full of surprises! 4 stars
8/05/05 Steve T Tries a little to hard to be funny, but entertaining none the less. 3 stars
12/01/04 tatum Often funny 4 stars
6/03/04 Angel Captures the passion of fandom without mockery. 4 stars
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  27-Jan-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jan-2004



Directed by
  Mark Hamill

Written by
  Mark Hamill

  Mark Hamill
  Billy West
  Joseph I. Burns
  Roger Rose
  Jess Harnell
  Lori Alan

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