Comic Book: The Movie Movie Review

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27 years after his appearance in Star Wars, Mark Hamill makes his directorial debut in a movie about... comic books? In this mockumentary, Hamill is just about the only actor who isn't playing himself. Instead, he's Don Swan, a comic book collector and store owner who is asked to consult on a Hollywood film about his favorite comic book character: Commander Courage. Hamill rounds up the usual comic book crowd (folks like Stan Lee and Kevin Smith, who wouldn't dream of missing an appearance in a film about comic books), plus manages to work in appearances from Hugh Hefner, Ray Harryhausen, Jonathan Winters, and Donna D'Errico, among others.

Swan gets a camera crew to tail him to Hollywood -- where Commander Courage, a supposed WWII era patriotic hero -- has been reinvented as Codename Courage, a ninja-like fighter of terrorism everywhere. But quickly he's on to the San Diego Comic-Con convention, where the bulk of the film takes place. It's hard to tell where the staged stuff for the movie ends and the fanboy ga-ga stuff begins: Among the countless shots of scantily clad fanbabes, costumed kids, and hugs with random convention exhibitors and fans there's a semblance of a story. Basically that involves Swan trying to convince everyone he meets that the old Commander Courage is better than the new Codename Courage (including a scene with Hamill and Stan Lee on a panel at the convention. Just don't think about it too much or you'll start to ask yourself just why Swan would be sent to this convention in the first place. It works only in the sense of putting the characters into oddball situations, but it's got little to do with anythig in the plot.

Shot on video (and in less than a week, it seems), Comic Book is a quickie and low-budget affair. The sound is rough and the pacing is erratic, but real comic book fans won't mind. I'd wager most of them will be busy watching to see if they were caught on camera at some point during the filming. There's some insidery humor sprinkled throughout the film as well. My wife even laughed a couple of times.

Straight to DVD, the film comprises two discs, with tons of extras on offer. Hamill and others chime in for an audio commentary, and outtakes and featurettes expand on Smith, Bruce Campbell, and Hefner's appearances in the film.

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Comic Book: The Movie Rating

" OK "

Rating: PG-13, 2004


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