Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: Meet the Spartans

Credentials: 2%, Certified Rotten ( / 2.6 out of 10 ( / 9 out of 100 (

Plot: The hyper-stylized, sepia-toned retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae… retold by two hacky dingbats.

Why it stinks: I’m not one to brag, but in case you weren’t counting, I’ve now sat through three alleged spoof movies from the minds of Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer in the last year. Three. To some of you out there, all that makes me is a guy with far, far too much time on his hands. But to a much larger and more interesting group, that fact makes me a hero. Like Marie Curie zapping herself with endless amounts of radiation just to see what it does. That’s me, bubba. Zapping myself with Friedberg/Seltzer “jokes” and gauging my reactions for the good of all mankind. I can only imagine the grim fate that awaits me when my body and mind inevitably rebel against me for the torture I’ve subjected them to.

                Anyway, I’ve sat through a few of these things so I feel confident in saying that “Meet the Spartans” is the laziest thing Friedberg/Seltzer have thus far scrawled their names on.
                Let’s clear the air right from the start: If you’ve seen “300” then you’ve seen “Meet the Spartans.” Friedberg/Seltzer lift very nearly the entire freaking plot of “300” for their movie. And if you’re a connoisseur of their “work,” you know these guys usually just steal jokes, so this taking a whole plot thing is at least breaking new ground.
                Hell, at least we get some good pop culture gags and celebrity cameos to help us along on our journey through a plot most of us found dull and predictable when we first saw it under the title of “300.” Right? Don’t hold your breath, chickadees.
                Mostly what we get are references to game shows and several full length remakes of actual commercials. Apparently Friedberg/Seltzer weren’t making enough money hawking their wares to America’s dumbest, most easily manipulated and most free-spending age group (teenagers). Curses, someone must have taught Friedberg/Seltzer the meaning of the phrase “product placement.”    
                How else can you explain why the Spartans all start chugging Gatoraid in slow mo after a battle? There’s no joke. It’s just sweaty people drinking Gatoraid. In slow mo. It’s just a commercial. And it’s not just sports drinks, we also get commercials for Dentyne Ice gum, Budweiser and Hooters.  
Also, Friedberg/Seltzer seem hell bent on referencing every reality/game show currently on the air when they shot the movie. “America’s Next Top Model,” “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Deal or No Deal.” All mentioned. Not a single joke as far as the eye can see.
                One last thing before we get to the Quick Thoughts. While Friedberg/Seltzer are learning about new things like product placement, how’s about someone teach them the meaning of the word “subtlety?” I mean my God. We get it. You two geniuses---along with everyone else on the planet--- noticed that the over-the-top masculinity in “300” was sorta kinda homoerotic.  
                But that doesn’t mean you need to have the Spartan men in your movie greet each other with passionate tongue kisses (the women are greeted with high fives) and skip hand in hand down the street with each other while singing “I Will Survive.”
                 That doesn’t even count as “spoofing” anymore. It’s more like beating a dead horse with another dead horse--- while a third and very, very ill horse watches in horror.

                Quick Thoughts 

                --- 2 minutes in, one vomit joke down. Good to get that first one out of the way.
                --- 5 minutes in, first diarrhea joke out of the way. Boy, I was starting to sweat bullets waiting for this one. Making your captive audience wait five whole minutes, Friedberg/Seltzer!?! You monsters!
                --- I’m beginning to think the only reason Friedberg/Seltzer keep making these movies is to keep Carmen Electra employed. Like some sort of horribly unfunny, untalented employment fairies.
                --- The one good thing about these movies? Being reminded of what TMZ was talking about at the time they came out. In this case: Britney Spear’s meltdown and Paris Hilton. One second thought, make that “Another reason these movies suck?”
                --- Do we need a four minute dance sequence? In a comedy movie? Really?!? It’s not even funny dancing, just regular ol’ dancing.
                --- Rest easy, America.  We can celebrate the one hour mark of this nightmare with our first CAT POOP JOKE (Oprah shouting)!
---  Poor Kevin Sorbo… poor Kevin Sorbo

There it goes, “Meet the Spartans,” bumblebee tuna.