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Meet the Spartans

There's nothing funny here--only sad. Sad in the sense that enough people will see Meet the Spartans to warrant a continuation of this franchise. And until that next spoof comes, there will not be a worse movie. It's just not possible.


To say that Meet the Spartans is a spoof of 300 is to suggest that there is some semblance of a storyline mocking that the 2007 blockbuster epic; I refuse to give it that much credit. Rather, this movie is a lame-ass excuse to randomly throw jabs at pop culture and, in extreme emergencies, "advance" the "plot"--which only really makes fun of 300's subtexts, not its story. It all starts in ancient Sparta, where a young Leonidas (Sean Maguire) is groomed to defeat the evil Xerxes (Ken Davitian, "the fat guy from Borat," which is essentially how the movie introduces him) and the invading Persians (led by Method Man). But really, Spartans is all about the atrociously unfunny parodies that litter its not-brief-enough 80 minutes: Transformers, Stomp the Yard, Happy Feet, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty, Anna Nicole, Britney, Paris, homosexuality, bodily functions--they're all spoofed here! A truly groundbreaking concept, indeed.


Formerly up-and-coming British actor Maguire (England's EastEnders) must've thought a lead role, no matter how bad the movie, would beget bigger jobs in the near future. Oops! Didn't he ever hear of Adam Campbell, the like-minded bloke whose biggest role since headlining Date Movie was last year's Epic Movie? In short, actors looking to break out should not be tempted by crap like this. It's the same story: Maguire can obviously act, but he makes a complete fool of himself in the process and now must give his career time to recover. He only bears a slight physical resemblance to the actor he's parodying, Gerard Butler (when heavily bearded), and otherwise spends the movie uttering the worst possible lines when not subjecting himself to scenes so mortifying that they're like some kind of Fear Factor for Actors. Elsewhere, the usual D-listers pop up for a shot at regaining quasi-relevance. Carmen Electra, now a veteran of this franchise--lucky her!--plays Leonidas' wife and is leaned on for nothing more than her hotness. Which is more than can be said about everyone else, from a clearly desperate-for-work Kevin Sorbo (Andromeda) as one of Leonidas' 'yes' men, to Method Man, whose heretofore-horrible film résumé just got worse.


Whereas Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's Scary/Epic/Date Movie spoofs might've bore the "this probably wasn't as easy to come up with as it seems" tag, Spartans looks like something from a script they found in the garbage can at a middle school: Not only is it pure trash unworthy of being released, but the "jokes," if you will, were seemingly written by and for 13- to-14-year-olds. Not one second of the movie is even implicitly deserving of a snicker; instead, it's actually antagonizing to watch, as Friedberg and Seltzer bombard us with scene after scene of the shallowest material ever committed to celluloid. This is the absolute dreg of cinema, the lowest of the low, not to be confused with "lowbrow," which would be an unfair compliment in this case. Spartans even fails miserably in trying to make fun of the few pop-culturisms that deserve it, and the least the writer-directors could've done was hire actors who physically resemble the celebs they're spoofing! Friedberg and Seltzer are just utterly allergic to originality: Obviously you don't expect the story to be original, since it's all a rip-off to begin with, but they can't even spin any of it into a single original gag. And they're so lost during the few non-spoof scenes that they resort to the dreaded pratfalls. Seriously, these dudes make Uwe Boll look like Orson Welles.

Bottom Line rated this film 1/2 star.