Dork of the Rings (2006) – By Duane L. Martin

 "One spoof to rule them all!" That’s what the quote on the top of the front cover says. It’s funny that the quote comes from Peter Lyon who made the swords for the Lord of the Rings movies, because this movie really is a double edged sword. I’ll get to all the reasons why in a moment, but first I’ll fill you in a bit on the story.

Basically, and this is the extremely simplified version of the story, an evil source of all merchandise that is cheap and irresistable called Dork Mart is attempting to take over Muddle Earth with its chain of stores. Frudo Buggins possesses the ring of circular credit, and he must journey to Lardor to destroy it to close Lord Mauron’s bank account. The ring of circular credit in this case not only makes you out of phase and invisible when you wear it, but it compells you to buy all manner of ill crap from Dork Mart, forcing you into severe and uncontrollable debt. Most of the fellowship characters from the Lord of the Rings troligy are spoofed in this film as well, and they accompany Frudo on his journey.

Now, when you make a spoof of a popular film that has been spoofed many times before already, there are two requirements. First, it must be really well done so as to stand out from the other spoofs and actually give people a reason to watch yet another spoof. Second, it must have a really good story with good actors to drive the first element home and pull people into the movie itself rather than having them sit there constantly going over the elements being spoofed in their head and trying to remember how they were in the original movie so they can get a laugh out of it. This is distracting to many people to say the least. So how does this movie measure up on those two fronts? Well here’s where the double edged sword part comes into play…

Everything about this movie screams double edged sword. For the most part, the CGI work is beautifully done and appropriate to the scenes it’s used in, and yet there are at least a couple of scenes where it’s really cheap looking. Actually, the well done CGI in this film really surprised me and I was rather impressed with most of the work done in this film.

Then there’s the story. While amusing in some ways, I didn’t feel pulled into it at all, and in fact found myself at various times having to forcibly keep my attention focused on the film because various scenes either became boring, unfunny or generally fell apart. Again, this wasn’t the case throughout the film, but I found myself in this situation quite often. I think it came down to trying to pull off too many jokes in a scene without focusing on the continuity and flow of the scene itself. There was one joke that I thought was really awesome though. Martha the Stewart has this big black guy for a bodyguard. Legoblocks the Elfis says that he doesn’t look like any of the other races on Muddle Earth, and the guy says, "That’s because I’m the Tolkien black guy." I was laughing at that one for quite a while. It was a really clever joke that worked well.

Next we have the settings, and we find ourselves in the same boat yet again. While some of the scenes were out in the woods in really beautiful locations and had a real fantasy feel to them, toward the end the whole thing started feeling cheap, as much of it took place at the mall where Arogant the Wrangler was supposed to be king and was trying to regain his throne. These scenes bring me to the next issue. The costumes.

Some of the costumes in this movie were really well done and clever, like the throbbits all looked really good and Arrogant and Femowen looked great as well. (Victoria Floro who plays Femowen is really hot by the way. Nothing to do with the review, but I just thought I’d mention it.) Where the costuming really suffered was on the Dork Mart employee monsters. They were extremely cheap and looked really bad. Why spend so much time and effort on making some people’s wardrobe and costuming so great and then slack on the dork monsters?

The sound in the movie was generally really good. The dialogue was dubbed after the fact though, which in and of itself was a double edged sword. You could hear everything clearly, yet the fact that everything was dubbed made it sound like the voice track was in a different space than the characters. To be honest, if I had to choose between having it sound more natural and being able to hear everything, I’d go with the after dubbing every time. It’s a little odd sounding, but I hate when I can’t hear the dialogue in a film. It just ruins the whole experience.

Lastly, we come to the performances. Again, some were great and some weren’t. Bryce Cone as Frudo, Victoria Floro as Femowen and Jesse Limon as Boredandqueer (who has one absolutely hilarious scene) were all really good in their roles, but the real stand out for me had to be James Flannery as Frudo’s friend and traveling companion Ham Mangee. Flannery brought a naturalness and likability to his character that belied his limited acting experience. With such a natural talent, the sky would be the limit for him if he should choose to pursue acting as a full time career. On the flip side, we have Sean McCormick who played Gimpi the Dweeb. The whole time I watched him and listened to him talk all I could think to myself was that he reminded me of Bruce Vilanch from Hollywood Squares in a bad wig. The whole character was annoying and added very little to the story. Another casting decision that detracted from the film were the Dorks from Dork Mart. They were mostly just regular folks as well and sort of gave the movie an air of falling apart during the big battle scene toward the end. Getting quality actors to play those parts, maybe even volunteers from the theater program at the local college would have greatly improved the quality of those battle scenes and made them look less hokey.

There’s a lot more I could talk about, but you get the idea. The film itself weighs in at 100 minutes (way less than the movie it spoofs) and comes in a two-disc set that includes a lot of great bonus features including a behind the scenes featurette, a thing showing the director schmoozing at various conventions, a music video, another featurette including Cliff Broadway, Kiran Shah and Justin Long as well as many other great features. It really is a full package.

One spoof to rule them all… Well, to be honest, looking back on it, I guess for now it is, because it literally is the best and most well made Lord of the Rings spoof I’ve seen. Sure it has it’s problems, but when you look at all they accomplished in this film regarding the look of it, the effects, some of the good fighting scenes, some of the really great performances, etc…, this generally really was a well done film. If you’re the type of person who enjoys a good spoof, then you’ll really enjoy this film. If not, then you should probably find something else to watch. I find that many people are either one way or the other, so whichever way you are personally, go with it.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.dorkoftherings.com.