Meet the Spartans: Unrated Pit-of-Death Edition
Watching Meet the Spartans is like being locked in the bathroom after clogging the toilet. Sure, you go into the bathroom with the right intentions, do your business (as unpleasant as it normally is), but the end result leaves you teary-eyed, on the cusp of losing consciousness, and fills your nose with the foulest, most disgusting and unbearable odor imaginable. This all happens before you find out that there is no plunger in the bathroom and the lock on your bathroom door, which you installed yourself, somehow got locked from the outside. Fine, maybe going to the bathroom isn’t that unpleasant, but Meet the Spartans is pretty damn close.
I am a fan of the parody (or spoof) genre of films. When done correctly, you get memorable films such as Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. You get funny films such as Hot Shots! , Top Secret! , Airplane! , Not Another Teen Movie, and This is Spinal Tap. These films are funny because they poke fun at other films, or genres of films, but maintain a coherent storyline that keeps you interested and laughing. Unfortunately for lovers of the parody film, there are two morons looking to tear down a film institution. Yes, I am talking about Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the idiots responsible for Epic Movie, Date Movie, and Meet the Spartans. These two worthless “filmmakers” believe that people find humor in making fun of pop culture and celebrities, yet there are, at most, two moments worth chuckling at in their 67 minute crapfest known as Meet the Spartans. It is a 67 minute movie (with 20 minutes of footage tagged onto the end when the credits are rolling)! There are cartoons and children’s shows that are longer and show more humor, intelligence, and wit than what these two jackasses have produced.
Meet the Spartans tries to be a spoof of the stylish graphic-novel-turned-film 300, but it’s really just a series of unfunny and unimaginative jokes that waste time in between Carmen Electra showing off her body or stripper-like dance moves. To try and describe the plot would be admitting there is one, which would also give the writers/directors of this film (the two nitwits listed above) credit for something positive, which I can't allow since I am actually taking time to review something that makes a coffee enema sound appealing. Let’s just say the plot has something to do with Leonidas (Sean Maguire) leading his 13 Spartans, including Kevin Sorbo, into battle against Xerxes (Ken Davitian).
The thing that puzzles me is this: If you’re going to parody 300, which has plenty of things to be parodied, why throw in all of the Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Shrek, Brangelina-baby-adopting, James Bond, Subway sandwich, American Idol, Happy Feet, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Oprah, America’s Next Top Model, Stomp the Yard, Bud Light commercial, Rocky, Ghost Rider, Grand Theft Auto, Transformers, and YouTube references when it has nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with keeping a story together. Why are these things funny? I understand the fact that the two people at the helm of this drivel want to remain timely in their references to the paparazzi-snapping numerous crotch-shots of celebrity skanks, but how do these moments fit into ancient Sparta? It doesn’t, which is why this film is pure, unadulterated crap.
I mentioned two moments worth chuckling at in the film. One is during a section of the film poking fun at the Matrix-like slow motion effects 300 used during its fight scenes. During the slow motion sequence, Leonidas uses a wet towel out to whip his adversaries instead of a spear, which is immediately followed by his use of the high school bully’s favorite move: the wedgie. It is actually a funny sequence, but it lasts all of 15 seconds - yet they feel obligated to have a 5 minute dance number reminiscent of You Got Served followed by a series of “Yo Mama” jokes rather than continuing with something that actually parodies 300. The other funny moment is when the Spartans go off to battle and instead of a manly march, they all join hands, skip and sing, “I Will Survive.” To be honest, if they made a straight parody with those moments, skipping all of the obvious "Paris Hilton is a whore" references, I could be recommending a decent spoof flick. Just because you have gay soldiers skipping into battle doesn’t mean there is a successful spoof of 300. Just because you decide to have the Spartans French kiss the men and high-five the women does not make a successful spoof of 300. It is throwing these things into a coherent plot – one that doesn’t include references to penguins’ balls or rectal functions, Elton John concerts, or insensitive remarks about Anna Nicole Smith’s death – about the actual movie you’re parodying, and then throwing in some unexpected, funny lines.
Unfortunately, the two people in charge of Meet the Spartans believe they have started a franchise of spoofs worth continuing. Somehow they continue to get studio backing as well as actors and actresses – like Maguire, Sorbo, Diedrich Bader, Method Man, and tons of terrible impersonators – desperate enough for a paycheck where they will show up for work every day and be humiliated by two people who have no right to be anywhere in public, let alone behind a camera of a major motion picture. If I were head of the studio, I would lock Friedberg and Seltzer in a room with nothing but two tiny chairs, a tiny table (preferably one used by a little girl for her Barbie dolls’ tea parties), a legal pad and a pen, and keep them there until one original, funny thought creeps into their tiny brains. Then, at least, we’d be spared another Crappy Movie, since they are incapable of thinking of anything original and/or funny.
If you’re into torture and your local dominatrix skipped town for a conference in Tulsa, there are some bonus features that may fill your desires as much as that burning cigarette being put out on your face, or the high heel being dug into your skin until you bleed – and these will be just as, if not more, painful than you could have ever imagined.
If you really like to live dangerously, watch the movie again – only this time, with the audio commentary from the cast and crew. Sure, you will be tortured by watching Meet the Spartans while hearing the voices of just about everyone involved in making the film yelling over one another, but at least that will drown out the sound of the gunshot when you decide you’ve had enough.
If you survived the audio commentary, maybe it’s time to test your knowledge of Meet the Spartans in the “Know Your Spartans Pop Culture Trivia Game.” There is no music playing, but when you answer a question right, you are treated with a clip from the movie where a celebrity gets kicked into the Pit of Death. If you get the question wrong, there is a little buzzer. At the end of the quiz, I was ranked a Persian – it said something on the screen as to why I was ranked that way, but it disappeared before I had time to write down what it was and, well, I didn’t have the patience to take the quiz again to see it again.
“Meet the Spartans: The Music” is just clips from the musical numbers performed throughout the film. Since the film sucked, chances are you will want to skip this feature, too. However, in “Preparing for Thrusting,” there is actually something funny that comes out of Kevin Sorbo’s mouth. He talks about how the guys from 300 claim they worked out all the time and looked great for the film, but he claims it’s nothing compared to the work he did for his TV show Hercules, and he could “kick all their asses.” This feature, when compared with the rest, really isn’t that bad, considering everyone interviewed talks about 300 and how much could have been done with the film. But, while it’s actually a sort of funny clip, it’s also depressing considering they really didn’t do all that much with the film.
The next feature is called “Tour the Set with Barinholtz.” Here is what you need to know about a man named Ike Barinholtz, who gives you the tour of the Meet the Spartans set: Half the time he’s in the film, he’s unrecognizable, either as one of the hideous prophets or the Bond villain. The only time you can actually tell it’s him, he plays Dane Cook - and he does so in a part in the film that comes after the credits begin to roll. Basically, you won’t know who he is or why he is giving a tour, therefore, you don’t need to take his crappy, unfunny tour.
The final feature is a gag reel, which I normally look forward to on most DVDs and would take a few lines to describe, but at this point the only thing I want to do is end this review, preferably by gagging the “filmmakers” with their own film reel. Dince that will never happen, I’ll just tell you that you’re better off wasting your money on an ounce of heroin that will slowly kill you over an hour and seven minutes.
Reviewed By: Jarad I. Wilk