By this point, we all know about Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer, the masters of crappy spoof movies. I’ve reviewed Meet The Spartans and Spy Hard, and in those reviews I explained why they suck as writers, with their films replacing satire with unrelated jokes only kind of tied to the main subject.
Recently, the two finally came out and did an extensive interview, explaining how they came to be, and how they took where they are today. Yes, we finally saw the SECRET ORGINS SELTZERBEG.
It’s really cool, showing of everything I wanted to know. In it, they pretty much say “fuck the haters, we do what we love”. That’s fine, but when you get THISD much hate, you have to realize how WRONG you are about comedy.
But I only bring that up cuz I know someone will bug me about it. It’s a good read though, just to see how they work. Their 2008 film “Disaster Movie” bombed, so we didn’t see them until 2010 with Vampires Suck.
We figured they would be back with a sad vengeance. However, they vanished again! Even with the rise of Craig Moss, (who may very well be worse,) we kind of wondered where Seltzerberg went to.
Well, it seems like they are finally going to the realm they deserve to be in : Direct to Video! That’s it, their announced and dreaded 2013 film ended up going VOD and is even on Netflix right now. Even with the money they made of of VS, they finally got banned to our TV/Computer screen than our Cinemas.
I was happy to hear that, but I was not happy to see them still working. The reviews for their latest return were ….what you expected. Most people hated it as much their other movies, though everyone kind of agreed it’s no Disaster Movie.
I knew I was gonna watch it somehow, someday. Then, as I said before, it popped up on Netflix. So, I watched. Now, I knew I would not do a real review on it because my previous spoof film reviews would make it pointless.
(Though I will do 2 that I thought were….special)
So, is Seltzerberg’s latest film an improvement over their works, or is their worst yet? Let’s find out!
This, is The Starving Games
In this spoof of “The Hunger Games”,we get the plot from that film which you can look up, as I am too lazy to copy and past the plot and change the names cuz the film did it for me. Okay, I’ll just shorten it:
In the future, the world is all corrupt and shit, because of these evil guys that took over. To prevent another rebellion from the little people. They make “The Starving Games”, where a teen tribute from each “District” must fight to the death, until there is only one winner.
Killing one of them each year will prevent rebellion because….reasons. Yeah, it didn’t make sense in the original either. Anyway, Long story short, archery badass “Kantmiss Evershot” and “Peter Malerky” end up being the Distract 12 Tributes, and now they must fight to the death.
So in words, the plot to The Hunger Games, only with dumb jokes thrown in. At this point, it doesn’t shock you that their format hasn’t changed. The question is…how bad is it? Well, it’s….bad.
But, much like Vampires Suck, it’s actually a SLIGHT improvement. See, that one was more focused on what it was trying to spoof, and a result it was better. However, that was still not a good spoof at all, and it was fairly sucky.
This is the same, to an extent. It’s not as focused on spoofing it’s target, but it is more focused on actual humor and there are less “CHARACTER WALKS IN FOR NO REASON” jokes. Though the VERY FIRST joke in the movie has Kantmiss hitting James Fraco’s Oz because…..that was a movie that existed.
I can’t really praise this in the way I could vampires suck, because there aren’t THAT many spoofs mocking elements from The Hunger Games, but instead we get more “General “jokes that mock things.
But it mocks those things better than in the other ones, so I guess that’s okay. I admit that of all their films, this made me laugh the most, even more so than Vampires Suck. However, the bad jokes are worse than the bad ones in that film.
As far spoofing the movie goes, like I said, it’s not all that great at it. The games start 20 minutes in, and a good chunk of the film is padding. It’s only 71 minutes long, even counting the pointless appearance by The Avengers. …Spoilers, I know but do you really care?
(The trailer spoiled it anyway. By the way, they mock Hawkeye a lot. Ugh, will that please die?)
There are points where they mock a couple elements, and exaggerate things. Like how transparently evil the Capitol is. For example, we first “President Snowballs” (HARDY HAR) In a Dos Equis parody, because those didn’t get old already.
It’s a dumb joke, but it shows him as “The most terrible man in the world” and the idea is kind of amusing at first. I actual liked the slam at the drink Dos Equis in there, because it was close to parody, even if it has nothing to do with The Hunger Games.
Another joke (after The Rue stand in’s death) has District 12 getting pissed and trying to rebel, but the bad guys show an ad for an epic burger, which makes them forget what they were talking about. Using the capitol to spoof things like this, is almost an okay idea idea….until that ad goes on for WAAAAY too long.
So there are more attempt at “clever”ness, rather than spoofing the film’s tropes. I’ll talk about that aspect in a mnute, but I will say this did help give the film at indenity over their other films. However, we still get the same damn type of jokes we always do.
And they miss most of the solid opportunities they had. They do kind of spoof the Capitol changing the rules to fit the “love story” going on, but they don’t as much as with that as they could. They don’t spoof some of the dumber aspects of the plot.
Hell, there’s no Haymitch AND they never spoof the shaky cam! Come on, the latter would have been awesome! But of course, these guys don’t want to actually try jokes that make sense.
Instead, get ready for the jokes you expect. There’s a part where Kantmiss gets high for no reasons and sees herself and Peter as Navis, and they have “hair sex” because……the kool aid man is red.
By the way, before she sees Navi, she sees a double rainbow. A fucking Double Rainbow joke in 2013, seriously!~
Speaking of the internet, we get references to Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja (that one was kind of cool though), and of all things, Annoying Orange! In that bit, the orange makes bad jokes and Kantmiss kills him.
…..Well, at least this movie gave me that.
Another random references has Gandalf and some dwarfs walking in the cave where Kantmiss and Peter are hiding and Gandalf briefly feels up Kantmiss.
By the way, if you want to see the Primrose stand in, expect a running joke where she gets hurts, because Kantmiss said “Dale” would take care of her. Child Abuse: It’s hilarious!
In short, we get the same crap at various points. So even the few gems aren’t really worth it. I cringed fairly often with these crappy jokes, and as a result, this film is really only a small step forward.
There’s another running joke regarding the “love triangle’, which is more annoying than the actual one from Catching Fire. (The book, haven’t seen the movie yet).. They drag it out at first by having Peter volunteer for the games just to hit on Kantmiss, but then he turns out to be gay for this other guy, because LOL LAUGH AT THE GAYS.
This turns into a gag where Gale keeps hating on Peter, and this whole thing goes on for so damn long, it stops being funny. I like the idea of spoofing the love triangle, but they never do anything with that is funny. Might as well cut it out, really. By the way, there’s a part where Kantmiss and Peeta have wild sex that goes on forever.
As you can tell, they TRY some satire but it fails. Though again, it puts it above their other works. Oh, and there’s one joke where Snowballs say he got the idea for The Starving Games from Battle Royale.
Cuz that didn’t get fucking old awhile ago!
But let’s get back to my actual positive comments about the film .The acting is actually pretty good.
Well, kind of. The supporting cast is just there and they don’t save the jokes. But 2 people were good: Maria Walsh, who plays Kantmiss, and …Diedrich Bader, who plays “Snowballs”. Yes, Bader is in ANOTHER Seltzerberg movie.
And once again, he’s good in it, for the most part. He is clearly having fun as the obvious villain and he gives us some of the better jokes. But after awhile, he gets less to do and his materiel gets worse. But he gets credit for at least trying for the most part.
As for Walsh, she’s fairly charming as our Katniss, and she is honestly the best of the “Seltzerberg leads”. Though honestly, most of the time, the main lead isn’t THAT bad. Kal Penn was okay in Epic Movie, whoever played Leo in Meet The Spartans was pretty good considering the materiel he was given, and the Bella in Vampires Suck was a solid Kristen Stewart Stand in.
The only exception is Disaster Movie. I haven’t seen Date Movie but i’ll assume that Alsyon Hannigan is the lead and she is the best part. But back to this movie, she doesn’t exactly try to copy Jennifer Lawrence but instead she brings her own charm to the part.
She does have the “I’m aware I’m in a spoof” thing that even Not!Leo and Not!Bella lacked, but she rises above her materiel either way. She doesn’t SAVE her bad jokes but she does escape the film with some dignity.
But mostly because her last line was BADASS….yet still kind of dumb. I’ll spoil it since you shouldn’t watch this flick anyway: At one point, the Rue stand in tells Kantmiss that, if they become the last 2 standing, she is gonna kill her.
“Shit ain’t personal, it’s just business”
It was stupid/ But at the end, Peter suggests the whole “eat berries and die” plan from the book/movie. I can’t remember if they did the change the rules back to the 2 winning thing, but I do remember this: Peter and Kantmiss seem like they are about to either eat the berries, or both win.
But then Kantmiss appears from behind and kills Peter,.
/’Shit ain’t personal, it’s just business”
Just the way it’s done is kind of badass. Also, this is where the movie ends…kind of .The Avengers show up for no reason because they “Show up at the end of every movie”. …Eh, that’s almost funny.
Anyway, I’ve lost track of the actual review. Point is, the main chick is good, even if it means I won’t be watching Cory in the House for awhile. Or anything Bader is in, for that matter.
Now, I said this film has it’s funny parts. Those parts come from the best, yet at the same time, oddest part of the time. See, The Hunger Games is a commentary on our culture, and how screwed up we can be. The games are like Roman Gladiators meets reality TV.
You think a Seltzerberg spoof would miss that point and just see the film as teen crap. But, actually no! They take the commentary aspect and expand on it so that it becomes a source of humor!
For example, during the first scene with “Dale” and Kantmiss, she talks about how they have a horrible show that is explostivie or something.
“The Starving games?”
“!6 and Pregnant”
On top of that, many bits with the villains show actual satire on our culture. There’s a running gag where Sienna has various company logos shaved into his beard, as he is a “marketing whore”.
The factt that Capital very much represents the executives in charge of our worst TV shows, is a running joke in the film.
“We replaced Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher, and no seemed to give a shit”
Now, these jokes are usually kind of amusing. It’s REAL satire and as I am not exactly fan of the stuff they are mocking, I kind of liked that. But even while I was watching it, I kind of questioned it.
Why? Seltzerberg films ARE A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHAT THEY ARE DAMMNING!
There’s a bit where they have halftime cheerleaders, and they say “more gratuitous T&A coming up”. This “joke” goes on for too long and it’s treacly like the “sexy dance” bits in Meet the Spartans and Epic Movie.
Sorry, but SAYING it’s gratuitous doesn’t make it nay less gratuitous. And that means the movie is hypocritical. It is mocking our culture, yet it is perfectly example of how dumb our culture is getting.
One of the main jokes is that in this, The “Starving” games are done like a sporting event, with snarky hosts, halftime, replays and so forth. This is used to mock those cliches and while it works, sometimes it gives us overly long jokes.
One bit turns into a real life version of Ow, my Balls, and it it is in no way tongue in cheek. As much as I like the attempts at satire, it feels like Seltzerberg has no idea they are an example what they are mocking.
You could argue this is them wising up, and it makes them the perfect duo tor this project (Much like Micheal Bay tackling excess in Pain & Gain) but it doesn’t work. Friedberg and Seltzerg are no Micheal Bay.
You can internet that any way you wish.
So yeah, the best jokes in the film end up being it’s biggest downfall. Only Seltzerberg could pull that off. And…I think i’ve covered everything interesting, in terms of good and bad things.
As a whole The Starving Games is everything you have come to expect from this team. It’s bad because it fails to be a decent spoof of a film that is easy to mock, and it is swarmed with crappy jokes and pointless references. However, it is one of the better Seltzerberg films, thanks to 2 good performances, less references, and some clever jokes.
It’s bad, but in a very typical way. But unlike Scary Movie 5, this deserves hatred because it is just….not good. The film itself is more of the same, only slightly improved.
It’s funny how they got worse until they reached the ultimate low known as Disaster Movie. Then they reset with Vampires Suck, which was their best work yet, and then their next film was also better.
That’s how bad DM was. It made them go back to Spy Hard levels of “Meh”….Either way, this movie still sucks.
Yes, 30 Nights was worse.
On another note, Seltzerberg already has a new out. It’s called “Best Night Ever” and it’s…not a spoof! Yes, really! It’s a found footage film in which some women who head out for a night of drinking and insanity.
So…it’s Project X meets The Hangover meets Spring Breakers. It sounds…like a spoof movie without the actual spoofing part.
Not much of a change. But hry, it could be good? What does a typical review of it look like?
I’m gonna to review that someday, aren’t I?