They are back. Like the horror movie icons that just will not die, the director/writer tandem of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are back. If you are lucky enough to have not heard of the two, both Friedberg and Seltzer are known around has hacks, who have essentially killed the spoof genre in its tracks. With some of the lowest reviewed films of all time like Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Vampires Suck, and Meet the Spartans, the two have made some of the laziest comedies of all time, that have all scored less than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a dreadful score for any film to have.
So why do these two continue to get opportunities in the industry? Well, somehow their efforts make good money at the box office. Their films are cheap to make, meaning that even a small gross gives the two enough funds. Somehow, they have done very well with this formula, with all of their directorial efforts aside from Disaster Movie disgustingly making over 80 million dollars worldwide. After a three year hiatus, the two are back, and with Starving Games may have somehow made their worst feature film yet.
Largely spoofing The Hunger Games, The Starving Games follows Kantmiss Evershot (get it), who has volunteered herself to battle in this year’s Hunger Games.
Finding positive attributes about this film is nearly impossible. Perhaps the best thing to be said about the film is that it’s not really offensively bad. Sure, this movie falls flat on its face, but it last does not make fun of race, gender roles, and sexuality like other spoof flick InAppropirate Comedy. The fact that this movie’s best quality is the fact that it did not do something bad enough should be a tell-tale sign of what you are getting into here.
Also, there was one scene I chuckled at, or maybe I was just clearing my throat after a big gulp of water. Technically, there was a chuckle, so let’s just give the movie a slight benefit of the doubt here.
Perhaps the funniest part of this movie is the production of it all, or lack there of. This movie does not even look respectable, resembling a high school production more and more by the minute. The lack of production value is even more noticeable when the film that it is spoofing has such big and grand production designs, while this film’s looked like they were done at the last minute on the set.
The best instance of this to me, which had me dying in laughter, is with the train. In Hunger Games, the tributes took a bullet train to their destination, which looked great. Admittedly, you’d expect a drop in quality with this being a spoof film after all, but Starving Games attempt at capturing this was dreadful, with it instead being a cheap looking bus with signs on it that were literally falling of the thing. It’s such a glaring error, and the fact any filmmaker could ignore that is kind of embarrassing.
Sure, the material here is bad, but the performances surely do not help. Maiara Walsh has largely been the star of failed sequels or spin-offs, like Mean Girls 2 and the Zombieland television show. Here, Walsh certainly gives an earnest effort, but really struggles overall. Walsh puts a great deal of energy into the role, which is admirable, but her delivery often felt awkward and stiff.
The supporting cast was even worse, lacking any sense of effort or sincerity. Actors like Brant Daugherty, Cody Christian, and Diedrich Bader all are even more stiff, and really don’t put in any effort into their roles. It’s obvious from the start that most of the cast involved is just in it for the money.
Starving Games is about 83 minutes long officially, and feels like an eternity. It is obvious that when one is not enjoying a movie, it will feel slower, but this film in general just suffered at pacing. It’s apparent from the start that Friedberg and Seltzer do not have enough material to really make a feature film, and they pad the film out significantly. The padding of the running time with unnecessary scenes slowed the film down significantly.
Speaking of padding running time, I decided to crunch the numbers on Starving Game’s actually running time. The film ends at the 69 minute mark, and then is followed by a good 10 minutes of bloopers before the credits. Not only that, but there is a montage segment that is at least 4 minutes recounting events from the first half. That means Starving Games is really only 65 minutes long, which is embarrassingly short for any film. If you do not have enough material, just don’t make the movie!
Perhaps the most aggravating quality about this film, and all of this duo’s films, is that their jokes are on rapid fire. Within a minute time frame, the two write in around two to three jokes. After awhile, it just feels like the movie is trying way too had, and you get joke overload. When the movie just keeps on throwing jokes in your face, over and over again, it just grew to be tiresome to me.
This is where the duo really fail as directors. Both fail to let a joke really have the time needed to hit, instead they just kind of throw a joke out there, and within seconds forget about it and move on to a new punchline. A lot of classic comedy takes time to really build up to the jokes, and that is what makes the payoff far more rewarding. Sure, rapid-fire comedy can work, but this film is lacking the major factor in making that work.
Starving Games is just not funny, at all. Not only that, but it’s extremely lazy. Like other Friedberg and Seltzer films, Starving Games basically just references different films and pop culture, and expects you to make the joke for yourself. These two need to learn that referencing something is not funny, or a joke at all. A reference is the first step, after that, you have to develop a joke that parodies what you reference. That is how parody works, and these two still do not understand that!
Starving Games is the latest lazy, uninspired, laugh-free flick by Friedberg and Seltzer, showing that these two still really don’t care about filmmaking, but making money. At least it’s not as bad as InAPPropriate Comedy.
Take a Drink: for each reference to a movie or pop culture.
Take a Drink: for each dud of a joke.
Do a Shot: When the movie ends, congrats on surviving!