‘The Starving Games’ Trailer Doesn’t Have Enough Dumb Pop Culture References

The Starving Games

It seems best to convey reactions to the latest trailer for Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg’s newest Hollywood send-up, The Starving Games, by way of emoticon, simply because Friedberg and Seltzer seem like the emoticon equivalent of filmmakers (silly, useless, faddy, and devoid of actual emotion). That said, the best emoticon to describe this trailer is :/. Frankly, we’re disappointed in its flaccid attempts to integrate punchy pop culture references into its Hunger Games rip-off narrative. This trailer doesn’t even branch out beyond its “source material” until 36 seconds into its 2:27 runtime (and that’s not even for a spoofy moment, just a weird character break from their fake Katniss Everdeen). What the hell, parody dudes?

Given our recent ripping of Seltzer and Friedberg’s career, it seems strange that we’d bemoan the lack of cheap shots in this latest trailer, but if those two can’t cobble together a film entirely made up of better pieces from better films, television shows, memes, and the like, no one can. The genre is dead. Even they aren’t amused anymore. When you need to start adding in animated Angry Birds for no good reason, it’s time to hang up the spoof mantel. Hollywood will mourn.

But, until that final death knell, please enjoy our (sadly slim) comprehensive breakdown of all the cultural (and otherwise) references in the latest trailer for The Starving Games. Feel free to let us know any we might have missed.

0.00 This thing is pure Hunger Games references until it’s over a fifth of the way over. Weirdly, all this fake Hunger Games stuff looks really good. Turns out, you don’t need a bunch of money to recreate an impoverished city-district. What a world!

0.35 The first “break” isn’t even for a pop culture reference, it’s just for some cheap humor. Is it sad that we still expect more from Friedberg and Seltzer?

0.49 Cool, we’re resorting to popular prank call monikers now.

0.56 We have a Taylor Swift heart, people! A genuine pop cultural reference!

1.09 Wedgies. Because nothing says “pop culture send-up” like a prank that was never actually pulled on anyone in high school (if you were actually the victim of a wedgie in high school, we apologize profusely).

1.12 An actual moment of humor, centered on the camera crew following Fake Katniss during the Fake Hunger Games. Consider it a nod to reality TV. We’ll take it.

1.18 Shoutout to every award show thank you speech ever. Fine.

1.20 Tebowing. TEBOWING. This trend was over before it began.

1.29 …sex tapes?

1.32 3D movies. At least this isn’t in 3D. Right?

1.39 Random trolls and wizards. Harry Potter? Lord of the Rings? The Hobbit? No one knows – and no one cares.

1.45 LMFAO. A band that no longer exists. The memory of their pants, however, will live forever.

1.49 If you haven’t already turned Siri off on your iPhone, you’ll probably find this sequence to be quite amusing. Godspeed to you.

1.52 Told you there were Angry Birds. Not even Star Wars branded.

1.57 Fruit Ninja, because what this trailer needed were more references to dumb computer games. Guys? Farmville would have been better. Candy Crush, maybe?

1.59 …sports. That’s broad.

2.02 Avatar, probably because it’s a law that any parody film needs to have some Avatar references.

2.05 And, with one “Gangnam Style” reference, The Starving Games is instantly hopelessly dated. Don’t they make these things in a weekend? How is this not current?

2.14 The Avengers. You know what, The Starving Games? Fine. You win. You don’t have nearly enough fun, clever, or interesting cultural references here, but you’ve got The Avengers, which places you in the company of just about every other spoof made in the last year.

The Starving Games will open on November 8th. Goody.

Kate is an entertainment and culture writer and editor living in New York City. She is also a contributing writer for,,, Vulture,,, The Dissolve, Screen Crush, New York Daily News, Mental Floss, and amNY. Her previous work can also be found at MSN Movies, Boxoffice Magazine, and She lives her life like a French movie, Steve.

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