Meet The Spartans review

We did actually contemplate spending as much time and effort on reviewing Meet The Spartans as the makers did on writing and shooting it. However, if we'd done that, we'd have had to stop the review somewhere in the middle of the cast list. To call Meet The Spartans a sickening, calculating attempt to part stupid American teenagers from their money is only part of the story. It's perhaps the worst film ever made. It's certainly the worst thing I've had to sit through in 14 years of reviewing. The temptation to review it in words of one syllable, so the makers and the target audience can understand, is tempting and more than feasible. "It's a pile of shit." See? Easy. And if we were to do that, we could use the time spent reviewing this pile of shit to go and watch something that, in comparison, is a work of comedic genius: Norbit, say, or Lady Godiva. However, we've built the Screenjabber reputation on thorough analysis and constructive criticism, hence even the "cheap" option would require more than dismissing Meet The Spartans as a pile of shit because, in truth, it's a pile of lazy, cynical, desperately unfunny shit.

Genre-wise, this 300 mickey-take falls into the pile of misjudged parodies, a la Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie etc. Actually, not only does it fall into that particular pile, it sinks rapidly to the bottom. There isn't a single gag that works and most of its targets are painfully outdated. After Leonidas (Maguire) has kicked the Persian Emissary into the pit of death, for example, he's then faced with Britney Spears (Parker, who generally deserves better than this) who, get this, isn't wearing panties. Oh the hilarity. Will it ever start? After dispatching Spears, he then kicks the American Idol judging panel into the pit. Happily they stop here, although there's yet more equally crap pit of death gags — George Bush, Dane Cook, Ellen — over the interminable end credits. Worst of all, the quality of the lookalikes is so poor that they have to explain who each target is. Mad TV's Parker is generally the exception — her Paula Abdul is excellent, ditto Ellen, and the Britney's pretty good vocally — but these aren't exactly difficult or original targets. By the time they get to Paris Hilton (as a pantie-less hunchback) and Lindsay Lohan (pantie-less and leaving rehab) you figure they might as well have made a joke about other topical, relevant targets. Vera Lynn, for example. Or Richard Nixon.

The makers clearly think that by giving characters silly names, making them fight Rocky Balboa or having King Xerxes (Borat's Davitian) turn into a Transformer they're the new bearers of the comedy torch lit by Airplane. They're not. Airplane hit its targets by playing it straight and allowing the humour to arise (mostly) naturally from the situation. In Meet The Spartans, the comedy is shoehorned in — in spectacularly embarrassing fashion — and everyone involved seems to be playing their roles with a cheery wink, clearly acknowledging that they're in a comedy. There are two problems with that. First of all, the knowing air undermines any potential the humour might have had. Secondly, as we've already established, Meet The Spartans isn't a comedy. It's a steaming great pile of lazy, cynical, desperately unfunny shit. Hell, the only reason we've given it no stars is because the software won't allow us to give negative scores.

When we see a film we like — Juno for example, or the forthcoming In Search of a Midnight Kiss — we want to get behind it and celebrate. Seeing those films early feels like a blessing and a cause for celebration, a chance to endorse something we love and to shout our recommendations from the rooftops. Reviewing Meet The Spartans feels like falling on a grenade. We've met them, they're crap, stay away. Neil Davey

SECOND OPINION

"Hey dawg, yo momma is so stoopid that she laffed while watching Meet The Spartans." Yes, this is a film that considers THAT height of humour. A film that can't even make a fart joke funny. (And we all know that fart jokes and talking dogs are ALWAYS funny, don't we kids?) A film that makes Schindler's List look like Seinfeld. A film so mind-numbingly banal that I would rather have my left testicle gnawed off by a rabid hyena than sit through it again. A film written by morons who are SO lazy and unfunny and unclever that they can't even come up with joke names for the characters they are supposed to be parodying. So the two main characters from 300 — Leonidas and King Xerxes — are cleverly called Leonidas and King Xerxes in Meet The Spartans. Hello, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, if you're reading this (or having yo mommas read it to you) ... let's see, how about Leotard and King Jerkses? See? It's not really all THAT hard, is it?

As Neil stressed above, this is truly the biggest, steamiest pile of shit that Hollywood has ever released in the name of comedy. Have these guys never seen a film by Mel Brooks, or the Abrahams/Zucker crew, or Matt Stone and Trey Parker? Meet The Spartans plays like it was written by 14-year-olds. In crayon. And aimed at an audience of 7-year-olds who haven't been potty trained yet. Newsflash, guys: reshooting a bunch of scenes from somebody else's film and throwing in a few outdated pop-culture references and digs at reality TV shows that nobody outside the US has seen is NOT the way to go about making a film. And Hollywood studio suits, if you're reading — please don't give these two braindead fuckwits any more money to make this sort of shit again, OK? The world is in a bad enough state as it is. Stuart O'Connor

meet the spartans 2008 movie embed

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

Stuart O'Connor

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