Notzilla (2020) [REVIEW] | The Cringe Is Approaching The Generators!

While parodies of giant monster movies aren’t that uncommon, rarely they are made as full lenght features, even more in the last decades, it’s easier to see movies about the making-of monster movies in the past, sometimes even going as far as narrating the circumstances (often a bit fictionalized) of movies that were never made, like Nezura from Daiei, which was canned and eventually led to the company creating Gamera, the fanged turtle friend of all children.

This is one of the more recent attempts, in this case lampooning the Showa era Godzilla films, and i’m surprised i had to discover this while surfing certain catalogues, you’d think more people would be covering a Godzilla parody made in the year the King Of Monster was supposed to fight King Kong again, but apparently no. Sure, it was an indie project made on a low budget, but still…

It almost pointless to go over the plot in this case, but let’s do a quick rundown.

A japanese scientist accidentally releases a giant monster in the United States, and then has to save both the kaiju and Cincinnati before a crazed nuclear physicist destroys them. Also, the monster hatches from an egg and grows larger when it consumes beer.

Look, i have a profound respect for comedy, as it’s hard to make, arguably is the kind of cinema that usually ages faster than any other genre, and i appreciate it even more since the feature length spoof/parody is a lost art, as modern internet age humour is basically a sub-category of quantum physics, with how incredibly fast a new joke or type of meme lives and die, 99 % of the times discarded after 2 weeks as people simply get bored faster of it and move on to another one.

And it’s clear the actors knew exactly the type of movie they wanted to spoof, but this feels like an overblown sketch in a webshow about cinema, with the kind of writing you would see in a Nostalgia Critic skit.

I’ve red that comparison and i thought it was just plain cruel to say… but then i watched the movie and i can’t really disagree, the writing is really bad, really cringy, and with the usual gaggle of over-borrowed movie lines, mixing oldies like “We’re Gonna Need A Bigger [Noun]”, the Airplane one, with even older stuff like confusing “hi/hay” with the japanese scientist, and a mix of modern memes, as they really did put in the script “keikaku means plan”. SIGH.

And to be fair, i’ve seen webshows with better writing, even Ninja Mission Force works way better with his comeding dubbing over stock footage of classic movies, the low budget props, the Godfrey Ho style ninja fights of people in colorful ninja jumpsuits, complete with headband labelling if the character is good or evil. Heck, even that episode of Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole when Ken Joung dubbed every character and walked around in an Asian Stereotype-Zilla costume was miles better in every way.

I do like some of the visual jokes here, like the huge command board having a button for “coffee” and “velociraptor”, the “notzilla” biological chart-kids color book. They’re the best part, but i wish they put the same care and effort into the dialogues instead of just kidding themselves that because the dialogue was bad, full of plain references and often dated, it HAD to be funny. What’s even more frustrating, is that sometimes the dialogues can be kinda of amusing, but a good 70 % of the time ….aren’t.

The routines are flaccid and weak, the running jokes tiresome, and overall is so juvenile and unfunny you’ll end up wishing you were seeing some of the fake joke posters instead, like Attack of The 60 Foot Woman With A College Degree.

It’s a shame, because the team behind the movie obviosly knows these movies very well, and the jokes conceptually make sense, from obvious fake toys purposefully not even trying to pass as real cars or tanks, the kung-fu style diction of the english speaking japanese scientist emulating the old cheesy dubs of japanese movies, the lampant use of rear-projection like in the early Gamera movies, the parody asian character apologizing to everything for the tiniest things, the american scientist being extra american and extra 60s, the deliberatly awkward acting and exposition.

But it doesn’t really work too well, despite some cute moments like the baby Notzilla puppet (complete of visible zipper)or some of the practical jokes actually landing (like the “female scientist in-training” shaving her legs on the elevator, random enough but cute), but rest assured, this movie’s biggest problem isn’t of budget, isn’t of acting, it’s not even a case of the team behind knowing fuck all about the subject matter (clearly not), but it’s one of writing, a fatal one in a comedy.

It’s not a complete disaster, it isn’t, but it’s not good at all, at times it works but mostly it’s just plain cringy, and it doesn’t help that the premise feel thin for a 30 minute film, let alone a 75 minutes one (with 4-5 minutes of credits).

Sound like a short movie, but in my experience it was hard even getting halfway through it, felt like pulling teeth, so i continuosly paused it to do something else, made some tiny progress, rinse and repeat. I really wanted to like this one, i tried to, but i didn’t, and i can’t really recommend it to anyone.

Mileage may vary, obviously, but this one reminded me of The Lost Skeleton Of Kadavra, which also had much better actors deliberatly acting badly and a more senseless plot, even if it’s similar, in how it wanted to be deliberately like bad movies of the time, but was too successful and the result was this alienating thing that it’s both a perfect recreation… and an imperfect one, as it succeds in being bad too much it comes off as a boring, very calculated farce, almost anti “anti-humour”.

It’s an interesting proposal and i respect the attempt at a spoof movie of this kind in this day and age, at the very least, even if don’t recommend (AT ALL), as it’s more interesting to talk about, cherrypick the visual gags that can fit into a screenshot, than actually funny to watch for more than 5 minutes.

Personally, i don’t think that even a Rifftrax treatment could make this one funny.

Didn’t like it. Really wish i did.

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