Meet the Spartans
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
with Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Kevin Sorbo, Ken Davitian, Diedrich Bader, Jareb Dauplaise, Travis Van Winkle, Method Man, Jim Piddock, Nicole Parker, Dean Cochran, Crista Flanagan
release US 25.Jan.08, UK 21.Mar.08
08/US Regency 1h24
Meet the Spartans
This is Sparta! Elektra, Maguire and Sorbo

davitian bader method man
Meet the Spartans The makers of Date Movie and Epic Movie clearly haven't learned from their mistakes. This is yet another parody that simply can't keep us laughing.

The plot is lifted directly from 300: When threatened by the ruthless King Xerxes (Davitian), Leonidas (Maguire) assembles an army of 10 Spartans with airbrushed abs, including his loyal sidekick Captain (Sorbo), Captain's son Sonio (Van Winkle) and the chubby Dilio (Dauplaise). Meanwhile back home, Leonidas' wife Margo (Electra) is holding down the fort against the traitorous Tratorio (Bader).

Spoofing a movie that's already ridiculous requires either an extremely clever approach (Galaxy Quest) or a relentless scattershot of jokes (The Naked Gun). But these filmmakers believe that merely recreating the original is inherently funny. It isn't. And neither is just throwing in random pop-culture references. Within the first five minutes, the film namechecks Shrek, Brangelina, James Bond, Happy Feet and Subway sandwiches, all while indulging in a dimwitted rehash of 300.

It must have been a fun atmosphere on set, because the cast goes for broke. Maguire has the Gerard Butler thing down pat, Sorbo actually tries to create a character and Electra vamps like nobody's business. Sure, there are a few gags that induce chuckles, and at least the filmmakers take the mickey out of 300's overwhelming homoeroticism. But most sequences are deeply uninspired and go on far too long, such as the pointless Stomp the Yard/You've Got Served dance-off. And the filmmakers show contempt for their audience by over-explaining even the simplest jokes.

There's also the problem that most of the references will be completely lost on audiences outside America, as they come from TV adverts or game shows. The Britney-Paris-Lindsey jokes were stale a year ago, the extended American Idol pastiche never works, and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gag was funnier in Blazing Saddles 36 years ago. I won't even go into the appallingly lame Spider-man, Rocky and Rambo segments. Or the 10-minute pad-out sequence in the middle of the credits, in which the filmmakers insert gags that are even weaker than the ones in the actual movie. Like the rest of the film, they really should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

cert 12 themes, vulgarity, language, violence 3.Mar.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall