By Jen Chaney
Thursday, August 19, 2010; C02
Vampires suck? That's a matter of opinion.
But here's what inarguably, unequivocally does suck: "Vampires Suck," a painfully unfunny "Twilight" spoof that arrived in theaters Wednesday, at least a year too late to seem even semi-culturally relevant. ("This 'Twilight' phenomenon has gotten out of control! Vampire movies and TV shows are everywhere!" Hey, thanks for the news flash from 2008.)
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer -- the writer-directors who have participated in a parade of movie-genre parodies, including "Scary Movie," "Date Movie" and "Meet the Spartans" -- have set their comedic crosshairs on the most obvious of targets: the hugely successful film franchise based on the novels by Stephenie Meyer, all of which have already been dissected, debated and, yes, satirized ad nauseam. Before it even makes its first Team Edward/Team Jacob joke -- a gag that involves a bunch of tween girls bashing one another in the head with shovels -- "Vampires Suck" already feels burdened by the weight of the numerous "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and MTV Movie Awards sendups that have preceded it.
The plot, for lack of a better word, is a pastiche of moments from the first two "Twilight" films. Becca (Jenn Proske) -- the "Vampires Suck" version of Bella -- moves to a glum little Pacific Northwest town called Sporks -- the "Vampires Suck" version of Forks, Wash. -- where she listens to teen angst mixes on her iPod, engages in desperately awkward conversations with her single father (Diedrich Bader of "The Drew Carey Show") and eventually finds herself torn between Edward (Matt Lanter), a vampire who "looks like he's constipated" and sparkles improbably in the sunlight, and Jacob (Chris Riggi), a kindhearted werewolf who brings her balloon bouquets and is contractually obligated to remove his shirt every 10 minutes. Twi-hards will get all the in-jokes, from the riff on Edward's ability to swoosh speedily through the forest (an effort assisted here by the use of a Segway) to the ridiculous performance of "It's Raining Men" by the members of Jacob's cutoff-jean-shorts-wearing wolf pack. But they still probably won't laugh much.
As for non-"Twilight" fans, "Vampires Suck" does its due diligence by tossing in a few more general pop culture gags, riffing predictably on everyone from the Kardashians to Chris Brown. Again, nothing worth busting a gut over here, although perhaps the filmmakers deserve credit for their one show of restraint: No jokes in this movie have been made at the expense of Justin Bieber.
Another bright note: Proske's turn as Becca, in which the newcomernails the nervous pauses, frequent lip-biting and twitchy behavior that characterizes Kristen Stewart's portrayal of the perpetually conflicted Bella. Proske has clearly done her homework. She deserves better material, and so do a couple of the talented actors who (wisely) appear briefly in "Vampires Suck": Ken Jeong of "The Hangover" and Dave Foley of "The Kids in the Hall." These individuals know funny. And they should have known better than to spend time in a flick that wouldn't recognize funny if it came up and sank both of its fangs into its uninspired neck.
(PG-13, 82 minutes) contains sexual content, comic violence, language and teen partying. Area theaters.