A few weeks ago, upon discovering known and universally panned parody
filmmakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer were making a parody of
the popular franchise The Hunger Games, I sent out a message on Twitter
I thought would be seen as encouraging to some. It read, "Encouragement
to young filmmakers: whatever you're writing now is infinitely better
than the new parody film The Starving Games. Soon after sending the
tweet, I received a reply from the film's official Twitter reading,
"Great! We're working on The Starving Games 2!" The fact that the
PR/marketing campaign for the picture needs to reply in a smarmy way to
negative feedback online about their film shows about as much maturity
on their part as the film at hand. Unsurprisingly, The Starving Games
is another miserable endeavor of a parody movie, directed by Jason
Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same men who have brought you Date
Movie, Epic Movie, Vampires Suck, among other installments of the dead
parody genre. That's right, I'm referring to the genre as dead now.
Consider my reviews of A Haunted House and Movie 43 (which I'll throw
in the same genre since it revolves around many self-referential skits
and lampoons A-list actors) the genre's funeral service and this one a
visit to its gravesite. What has happened to a genre so promising and
so filled with life? The simple answer is it has been reduced to what
appears to be a cinematic competition between writers to incorporate as
many pop culture and movie references in one film as possible. In the
first few minutes of The Starving Games, we are annihilated as viewers
by the abundance of references thrown at us, as if it's a commercial
break on Television in mid-December and we're trying to decide on what
toy to buy our children. The Friedberg and Seltzer formula is to have
no continuity, no logic, and no wit in their story. Just clobber
together every successful film character, pop culture icon, current
celebrity, etc into roughly eighty minutes and string it along with a
loose plot and hope someone laughs (or enough sales come through to
cash a large check).
As inferred by the title, the film is one long parody of the popular
book/film franchise The Hunger Games, with the protagonist of Katniss
Evergreen now under the name "Kantmiss Evershot," an inept archer who
now must fight for her life in the game where her and another opponent
must kill one another in The 75th Annual Starving Games. The winner
receives an old ham, a coupon for a foot-long sub sandwich, and a
partially eaten pickle. The person who sits through this film in its
redundant, eighty minute glory gets nothing but a shorter amount of
time left in their day.
With all the disgustingly unfunny references, I'm glad this film was
shot, edited, and completed before Miley Cyrus and the "twerking"
phenomenon became mainstream. If I had to witness something of that
caliber in a film that already breathlessly tries to include the
"Gangnam Style" musician Psy, the whole Avengers squad, Harry Potter
and his friends (who are told to get out of the film because their
franchise has ended), and the cast of action movie legends from The
Expendables, I would've probably given up.
The reason why I resist discrediting or shattering the likely large
egos of directors Friedberg and Seltzer is because, well, why bother?
They have found a formula that pays big money and have capitalized off
of the lowest common denominator of wit and intelligence there is in
the cinematic world. I am anticipating reviews of The Starving Games
that consist of death threats, comments about the devolution of humor
because of the directors' films, and remarks of their worthlessness
because of their filmography. Reviews of their films have become as
predictable as the films they make, so why bother attacking them? All I
can say is be grateful this one is confined to a video-on-demand
released and a very limited theatrical release, as opposed to their
other films which garnered wide releases. Let's hope their window of
release just becomes smaller and smaller over time.
The Starving Games and films like it don't make me angry anymore. They
just make me sad. It makes me upset to see films like these gain an
audience of young teens who are already experiencing shorter attention
spans thanks to Television and the internet. I'd let my twelve year old
child watch the original Halloween before a film by Friedberg and
Seltzer. Or, better yet, the original Airplane! or The Naked Gun
series, both starring the gifted comedy actor Leslie Nelson. Those
films worked because they spoofed their own genres and didn't try to
incorporate every current celebrity and movie figure that has rose to
prominence since their last film. There is no reason anyone should see
The Starving Games, but, oh, people will.
Run and tweet that.
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Brant Daugherty, and Cody Christian. Directed
by: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.