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MEET THE SPARTANS

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Ken Davitian, Kevin Sorbo
Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 87 Minutes
Release Date: June 3, 2008

“It’s a beautiful death.”

“It’s actually not that attractive.”

Film *

Ever since they unleashed the cinematic atrocities Date Movie and Epic Movie, critics and moviegoers alike have agreed about one thing; the writing/directing team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer need to be silenced permanently. But since their movies happen to be made on the cheap, and make money in theaters, we probably won’t see this happening anytime soon. That is, of course, unless the brain dead target audience for their movies develops brain cells and ignore their next release.

And yet, and I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but I did get quite a few chuckles out of their latest spoof effort, Meet the Spartans. So yes, it is funnier than Date Movie and Epic Movie combined. But at the same time, that’s like saying drowning is a much better way of death than being hacked to pieces.

Why did I laugh? I can’t really explain, but there would be points in the movie where a sight gag worked on me. I’m willing to bet, judging by how awful those last two movies were, that these successful gags happened by accident.

What surrounds the few funny bits in Meet the Spartans is the traditional, and quite sickening, formula that Friedberg and Seltzer are famous for at this point. We get a parody of a specific movie or genre, the main target this time around is 300, but mostly what we get are a series of references to areas of pop culture which have absolutely no business being in a spoof movie.

And as for 300, well other than an abundance of gay jokes we basically are treated to the same movie all over again. Leonidas (Sean Maguire) is trained from childhood to become the mightiest warrior of his time. Only, instead of leading a band of 300 men, he is stuck leading only 13. Pretty clever joke, huh?

But what mostly kills the flow of so-called jokes in this movie, as it did in the past two movies, is the notion that the movie spells out every reference as if the audience were mentally challenged. The voice over narration from 300 is now used to inform us that when Leonidas’ wife, Queen Margo (Carmen Electra) unleashes a venomous fury; it’s just like that of Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3. And to top it off, it also has the nerve to tell us that Xerxes looks a lot like the fat guy from Borat, when any moron on the planet could figure that out for themselves.

Add in some inexplicable references ranging from Paris Hilton to Britney Spears (weren’t they already poked fun at in the past two movies by these idiots?), and that’s Meet the Spartans in a nutshell. But it doesn’t end there, as the movie just throws in jabs at the likes of American Idol, America’s Next Top Model Dancing with the Stars and even the MTV show Yo Momma. As I write this, I picture a future book titled “The Death of Cinematic Creativity” by authors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, followed by another surefire bestseller, “The Directors Who Made Uwe Boll Look Good”.

But I won’t lie, I did laugh briefly on more than one occasion. Some of the physical gags got a chuckle out of me, and I did laugh during a lengthy scene involving a jab at Grand Theft Auto. I also found it a bit clever to hear Kevin Sorbo, who plays the captain of the army, yell out, “I’m going to go all Hercules on your ass!” before going into battle.

However, don’t let those moments inspire to even want to see this piece of crap. In fact, if I could sum up this entire movie in two words, it would be “SKIP IT!”. What Meet the Spartans illustrates once again is that if a spoof movie doesn’t carry the name David Zucker anywhere in the credits, don’t go anywhere near it.

Video **

As cheap as the movie looks, the anamorphic picture provided is heavily pixilated mainly due to the fact that this is a screener copy version from Fox, and thus won’t reflect the quality of the actual release. But what I saw was mainly a lackluster picture, loaded with compression and pixels, as I’m used to seeing with these screener copies.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix is serviceable enough. The sound quality delivers when it comes to physical gags and music playback. Dialogue delivery is also well handled.

Features **

This Unrated release from Fox, dubbed the Pit-of-Death Edition, has got the basic level of extras…nothing too extravagant. We get a cast and crew commentary track with writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, as well as cast members Sean Maguire, Kevin Sorbo, Nicole Parker and Ike Barinholtz. Also included is a Know Your Spartans Pop Culture Trivia Game, Meet the Spartans: The Music (which basically jumps to scenes in the movie with featured songs), two featurettes, “Prepare for Thrusting” and “Tour the Set with Ike Barinholtz”, and a Gag Reel and Trailers.

Summary:

It’s truthfully not saying much when I say that Meet the Spartans is a tad bit better than the past works of hack extraordinaires Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Like Date Movie and Epic Movie, it’s a sad, pathetic excuse for a movie that isn’t worthy of your viewing.

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