Friedberg and Seltzer

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.

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Friedberg and Seltzer

Somehow the news that spoof-teurs Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg are churning out yet another piece of their trademark low-hanging fruit with a Fast and Furious send-up called Superfast had so far eluded me, at least until THR posted a casting notice about the film’s newly-minted leads. Friedberg and Seltzer’s brand of parody doesn’t work for me (and never has), simply because their kind of amalgamation has never struck me as particularly smart or inspired. It’s dartboard filmmaking, scripts seemingly put together by way of a flying stick that determines when, where, and how various recent films get crammed into one “script.” Parodies can work, and work well – see Hot Shots, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, or MacGruber for proof positive of that – but only if their enjoyment is not determined by how familiar you are with the films they are spoofing. Take a look at the features parodied in Seltzer and Friedberg’s Date Movie, which Wikipedia lists as including My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Seven Year Itch, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Hitch, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Kill Bill, King Kong, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, When Harry Met Sally, Along Came Polly, and The Princess Diaries – this film was dated before it even hit the big screen (Along Came Polly? Really?). Basically, if a spoof isn’t funny on its own, it’s not funny. Friedberg and Seltzer’s films are not funny. They are, however, profitable.

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As we all know, making stale jokes that have already been made by everyone else is the key to comedy. That’s why Carlos Mencia was so popular. Spinning that same theory into box office cash (albeit not huge piles of it) Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer plan on hitting audiences again with a spoof on Avatar called The Biggest Movie of All Time 3D. Cutting. Edge. Instead of taking the easy, cynical view, perhaps it would be more advantageous to hope for the best here. After all, Friedberg and Seltzer have produced their fair share of movies by now, and even though they’ve fallen into a formula that works for them, maybe they’ve learned enough along the way to craft something that works for a broader comedy audience. Perhaps they’ll populate the movie with long-form humor as well as cultural references and easy jokes. Mayhaps they’ll use their expertise to go in a startling direction just as audiences thought they had them pegged. Peradventure this movie would be their coming out party as two of the most adventurous filmmakers of our modern time. See? That’s how it’s done. Feel free to leave your best Avatar jokes in the comment section. [Coming Soon]

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Thanks to the talents of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the label “spoof” has lost all respect in the cinematic world. Often credited as “two of the writers of Scary Movie” (both as a joke and warning sign), Friedberg and Seltzer devolved the spoof film using an arsenal of pop culture references, bathroom humor and non sequiturs. Keeping it classy was never the goal. While their rampage through genre and cultural phenomena may never end, spoofing doesn’t have to live with shame either. Plenty of filmmakers have figured out ways to satirize the movie world and tell their own stories at the same time — it’s the movie-going public that’s afraid to use the dreaded s-word. Let’s suck it up and admit the truth: these ten films are hilarious, well-made and spoofs through and through:

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published: 04.18.2014
A
published: 04.18.2014
B+
published: 04.17.2014
B-
published: 04.17.2014
D+

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