The Watcher - Drawn that way

Hamill dorks out in Comic Book: The Movie

Luke Skywalker has a beef with Hollywood. Or rather, his true identity Mark Hamill does. In the bizarre mockumentary Comic Book: The Movie (Miramax Home Entertainment), Hamill explores the conflict between the comic world's hardcore devotees and the come-lately movie studios that are repackaging classics to cash in at the box office.

In Comic Book: The Movie, Hamill assumes the role of Donald Swan, the self-proclaimed No. 1 fan of comic books. His favorite superhero is Nazi-fighting Commander Courage, but the character has been revamped as Codename: Courage for a new movie produced by Trendy Studios. Codename: Courage's sexy new image includes an arsenal of weapons, terrorist enemies and a buxom sidekick named Liberty Lass, who replaces the original male sidekick Liberty Lad.

When Trendy Studios asks Swan to be a consultant for the movie, he accepts the position but plans to get the studio to scrap the new hero and embrace the original Commander Courage.

When Swan and a Trendy Studios rep head out to San Francisco's comic convention, Comic Con, to film a mini-documentary for Codename: Courage's DVD extras, things get downright confusing. We're talking about a mini-documentary within a mockumentary here, folks. Extraneous characters start muddying up the story, like Ricky, the chronically stoned, skirt-chasing cameraman, who seems to be in the movie just to do random impressions.

To be fair, the impressions are good. Ricky is portrayed by Jess Harnell, better known off screen as the voice of "Animaniacs'" Wakko. In fact, the whole cast is a crew of talented cartoon voices, including Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) and Daran Norris (Jimmy Neutron). Even Hamill starred as the voice of the Joker on "Batman, the Animated Series." But good voices need good scripts, and this movie is largely improvised. Rather than play off each other smartly like the cast of, say, Best in Show, these actors are constantly talking over each other or cutting each other off.

Hamill dorking out over comics is the bright point of Comic Book: The Movie. His love of the quirky world shines through the low-budget lighting. He offers enthusiastic history lessons and interviews cult icons (including Stan Lee, Kevin Smith and Bruce Campbell) that are best enjoyed if you use the scene selector to skip though some of the unbearable Comic Con scenes. But really, anyone familiar with comics may be better off skipping this DVD entirely and waiting for the big-screen releases of Hellboy in April and Van Helsing in May.

Does anyone else get the impression that America is brimming with over-confidence after watching the "American Idol" auditions? Every season it blows my mind how many tone-deaf teens traipse into the audition only to be devastated when Simon Cowell declares, "You are the worst singer I've ever heard."

Are these hopefuls serious when they belt out lyrics with less melody than flatulence? Finally, thanks to one Atlanta "singer," I have attained enlightenment. Yes, they are serious. This young singer walked in front of the table of judges, ripped away her pants and announced she would perform a song from Flashdance. She thrashed around in leg warmers and shouted lyrics that sounded like she was calling for help. The judges righteously flogged the poor girl. She demanded back-up singers and synthesizers. She demanded to go to Hollywood. She left crying. On the way out, a friend began to comfort her and said, "I know you're talented," and angrily pushed the cameras out of the way.

Her friend straight lied to the poor crying girl — right to her face! This so-called friend allowed her deluded comrade to get clowned by judges in front of millions of Americans. Friends aren't supposed to let you make a fool of yourself. A friend tells you when you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe or broccoli between your front teeth. But above all else: Friends do not let friends who can't sing audition for "American Idol."