Parody is not pretty
MEET THE SPARTANS Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Starring Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Kevin Sorbo, Ken Davitian, Travis Van Winkle 15A cert, gen release, 84 min NO PUN is too feeble and no gag too puerile for Meet the Spartans, an embarrassingly laboured attempt at comedy that failed to generate a single laugh at its Dublin media screening last week. I will admit to one smile: of relief, when the closing credits appeared.
Written and directed by the duo behind the equally wretched Date Movie and Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans is another of their extended spoofs on other films, this time drawing ineptly on 300 and its homoeroticism, and adhering quite slavishly to its narrative outline. Sean Maguire, a Grange Hill alumnus and minor 1990s UK pop singer, plays Leonidas, with Carmen Electra (from Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Scary Movie 4) as the queen.
As this tacky movie crawls along mirthlessly, it directs crude, nasty jibes at such soft targets as Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Not content with having the Spartans camping it up once to I Will Survive, they later offer an entirely unwarranted and unwelcome reprise. One character gets feline excrement on his face. There’s a flatulent penguin and oodles of blatant product placement.
The picture drops in pathetic send-ups of other films (Transformers, Ghost Rider) and US TV shows (American Idol, Ugly Betty). Assuming that their audience will be as stupid as their own movie, the writer-directors condescendingly explain every would-be joke. When a Sylvester Stallone “lookalike” appears, Rocky is emblazoned on the waistband of his boxing shorts. When Xerxes turns up, a comment is made that he looks “a lot like that fat guy from Borat”, to remind viewers where they last saw Ken Davitian, who plays Xerxes.
This dispiritingly uninspired effort hasn’t a trace of the wit or invention that went into such entertaining movie parodies as the Airplane! and Naked Gun franchises. There are nine months left in 2008, but Meet the Spartans already looks unbeatable for the citation of the year’s worst movie. The prospect of anything even more dire is an appalling vista.
Hey, he looks like that fat guy from ‘Borat’: Ken Davitian