By Jacob Montgomery (Texas)
For the record, I’ve had the luck and the good sense to stay away from the movies of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, up until this point. However, because I’m a movie masochist and want to be well rounded in different levels of filmmaking competency, my streak finally ends. However, while I’m certainly not unfamiliar with their work, I am familiar with their style, as I’ve seen in countless reviews and clips online.
This film doesn’t seem to understand what makes a spoof funny. Its humor is incredibly mean spirited, to the point where it becomes almost unbearable to watch at times. The film doesn’t actually say anything topical, new, or interesting about the series it’s spoofing, with jokes that are DOA, and any jokes that might have potential to work, fall flat, are extended to the point where it becomes tedious, or are stolen from something else. There’s even a scene that shamefully steals a joke from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and they somehow managed to make it unfunny. The problem with the jokes as a whole is that because the movie looks so cheap, we don’t feel like this could be a real world, so the jokes don’t work. In old Mel Brooks spoofs that obviously couldn’t exist in reality, they did have the appearance of being in reality, which made it all the funnier and unexpected when the surreal humor kicked in.
This film, on the other hand, has no internal logic; at one point they even screw up the name of the games, calling it The Hunger Games instead of The Starving Games. The film’s jokes are so obvious; you can see them coming from a mile away, with not even a hint of a subversive nature. And the jokes that you can’t see coming don’t even make sense. There are even jokes that contradict the universe that they’ve “created” here (I put “created” in quotation marks, because that word implies that there was thought put into this).
Basically the film worked like this; add in a reference that will date the movie rapidly, some terrible slapstick, and a reaction shot of people watching the games. Lather, rinse and repeat. Among these referenced included The Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Avatar, Two and a Half Men, The Expendables, Double Rainbow, Annoying Orange, and even Fruit Ninja of all things. And I haven’t even gotten to the shameless product plugs that are literally everywhere. I’ll give them some credit that some of their references actually seem to be based on things that are older than what Friedberg and Seltzer are used to, so at the very least they are attempting to stretch themselves.
I was willing to give this film some credit, because it actually seems to be more focused than their previous attempts, and I did laugh occasionally (4 times if you want my exact figure), however the film still misfires a lot, is not even the slightest bit cohesive, and has a mean spirited tone that leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. It may be a step up in quality for the writer/director duo, but that’s like saying a bank robber isn’t that bad of a guy because he doesn’t litter.