I’m getting a deeply referenced, self-tilting, performance-art vibe from those James Franco-and-Anne Hathaway Oscar promo spots. It may as well be faced — these guys aren’t going to be that funny.

They’re obliged to be “out there,” of course, and do whatever they can, but I’m sensing very little to come in the way of machine-gun panache, nervy Billy Crystal-like broadsides, and/or Steve Martin-ish stingers. They’ve obviously decided to be the anti-Ricky Gervais duo. If you’re not willing to be cruel, what’s the point?

They’ll probably be “amusing,” okay, but all night long the invisible left-to-right crawl at the bottom of the screen will read “well…what’d you expect?” In a 2.24 Gawker piece titled “An Oscars Problem: Anne Hathaway Is Not Funny,” Richard Dawson wrote, “This is going to be a disaster. ”

Hathaway’s Madonna-as-Evita spot has me especially concerned. She’s imitating Madonna with the low-rent New Jersey accent and the “boom boom”…right?

From Gervais’s website, a sampling of Franco and Hathaway’s opening patter:

Franco: “I’m James Franco.”

Hathaway: “…and I’m Anne Hathaway.”

Franco: “You probably know me from 127 Hours where I play a man trapped in an enclosed space who decides he would rather cut his own arm off than stay where he was. Now that sounds ‘way out’ but wait ’til half way through this fucking ceremony and you’ll start to identify with him.”

Hathaway: “And I’m the new Catwoman. The first white woman to play that role since Michelle Pfeiffer. I want it to be an inspiration to all white people everywhere. Your dreams can come true in Hollywood too.”

Franco: “It’s a daunting task hosting The Oscars but we’re not alone. Presenting awards tonight will be a string of Hollywood legends and some other actors who have a film out in March or April.”

Hathaway: “Usually they hire comedians to host the Oscars, but tonight, instead, you get us!”