Xerxes: Enough of this superflous videogame violence!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
The genre of parody is one that constantly gets a bad name as in recent years numerous filmmakers have attempted to “parody” various genres and movies and have failed miserably. Among these filmmakers have been Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg. These two did well in writing Scary Movie with four other writers but clearly the whole was greater than the sum of its parts as since then the two have released numerous unfunny spoof movies. And this parody of Zack Snyder’s 300 is one of them.
The story is that King Xerxes of Persia (Ken Davitian) is sending his massive army to attack Sparta thus Leonidas (Sean Maguire) along with 13 other men rise up to defend their home.
The best thing about the art of parody is that it takes the tropes of whatever movie or genre it’s trying to satirize and plays with, twists them, and pays homage to them in its own unique way while still coming back to the heart of the source material in the end. To the movie’s slight credit there is one joke about how one of the councilmen known as Traitoro (Diedrich Bader) is spelling out his treachery and how everyone is completely oblivious to it. It’s a nice jab at 300 and other movies that make it completely obvious as to who the villain is the moment they make their appearance given the lack of subtlety. Outside of that each scene of the movie only has either a horribly extended gay joke, multiple pop culture references to anything that was popular around the time whether it made sense to do so or not (and more often than not the case was clearly the latter), and numerous unsubtle product placements. None of the jokes involving these things are the least bit funny and shows that the writing is completely lacking in wit or originality. If you were to take out any of the pop culture reference the story of this movie would pretty much be the same as the original. The product placements in particular make this movie a complete sell-out as virtually every scene is sponsoring some sort of brand. The movie is only 84 minutes long but it feels far longer given how long the “jokes” tend to stretch out. Even the jokes themselves the movie feels the need to spell them out for the audience taking what little comedic appeal they had.
It’s hard not to feel bad for the actors involved in this, as they really have nothing given to them that could make this movie the least bit appealing. Sean Maguire as Leonidas tries to parody Gerard Butler’s pompous take on the character but given the horrific writing for the movie overall it’s hard to get invested in any of it. All the actors are capable of fulfilling what is given to them but the meaningless direction and terrible writing doesn’t allow any of them to give little level of appeal.
Meet the Spartans is a horribly written movie that has no idea how to do proper parody and is not the least bit funny in what it tries to provide. And yet somehow this movie turned out to be a financial success. It talks down to any audience it tries to speak to thinking that people will only flock to it because it because the painfully obvious references. There are many movies and TV shows that understand the art of parody and comedy a lot better. This is something to look at in how not to do either of those things.