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Je n'aime pas dans les vieux films américains quand les conducteurs ne regardent pas la route. Et de ratage en ratage, on s'habitue à ne jamais dépasser le stade du brouillon. La vie n'est que l'interminable répétition d'une représentation qui n'aura jamais lieu.

Meet the Spartans (2008) - Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer!

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Tonight we watch movies made in Hell.

*Okay, currently on the IMDB’s bottom 100 list at #99 (as of this writing),  at #25 on RT’s list of the worst of the decade and . . .

*Okay, to give you a roundup of all the worst movie lists this one has appeared on would be to spend way too much time on something that I think we can all accept on faith.  Pretty much everybody really hated this movie. 

*Anyway, Friedberg & Seltzer are behind this travesty.  You might remember them from Spy Hard, Scary Movies 1 – 4, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, etc. 

*Yes, quite the versatile pair, these two.

*Obviously, watching Meet the Spartans has changed me forever, because as soon as I typed the above line, I instantly thought of what a great testicle joke that would be. 

*Because, see, Meet the Spartans is composed entirely of testicle jokes, gay jokes and violence against children. 

*Okay, after that great teaser I bet you can’t wait!  So, let’s get started here.

*So, the film opens with a village elder taking a baby out to the Baby Pit or whatever that thing is called.  He unwraps the blanket around the baby to reveal that it is in fact a Shrek Baby.  The Shrek Baby speaks in an absolutely unholy Mike Myers impression and then proceeds to spew green vomit all over the village elder for at least thirty seconds. 

*Oh, it’s going to be that kind of movie.  Let’s keep a running count of bodily fluids, shall we? 

*Also, vomit jokes should really be kept to under ten seconds, I think.  Unless we’re talking about Stand By Me. 

*The village elder unwraps another baby and, the narrator informs us, “If the baby was Vietnamese, Brangelina got first dibs.”  A pair of moderately attractive people in sunglasses appear and take the baby. 

*Oh, it’s going to be that kind of movie.  Let’s keep a running count of idiotic pop culture references, shall we? 

*Leonidas is born and stamped with the seal of approval on his, obviously plastic, buttock. 

*When next we see him, Leonidas is a young lad and he’s punching his grandmother in the face so hard her false teeth fly out.  I am not even kidding.

*When next we see him, he’s being played by Sean Maguire, has braces and, according to the Narrator, is being “tortured” for reasons not entirely clear.  He is tied to a chair and Ike Barinholtz is doing his worst Mads Mikkelson impression.   By the end of the scene, Barinholtz is spewing blood in sort of Monty Python tea party way from his cheek area (did Mikkelson ever actually do that?  I don’t think so). 

*That’s right.  A Casino Royale parody.  Why?  I don’t know. 

*The scene wraps up with Barinholtz putting dog food on Leonidas’ testicles and turning a terrier loose on them.  I swear to God, I’m not even kidding. 

*You should see the fake testicles they have hanging down through that chair.  Well, no, actually you shouldn’t, but they’re on screen for like two minutes in this scene.  They’re like covered by a robe or something, but still, that’s just grotesquery.  Why would I want to see that on the big screen?  I ask you.

*In our next scene, Leonidas must struggle to survive in the snowy wilderness.  A penguin dances, he remarks the penguin has happy feet, the penguin starts talking in a sort of hip hop minstrel show dialect and knocks Leonidas down.  The penguin makes Leonidas kiss his little furry ‘snowballs’ and then craps in his mouth. 

*Jesus God.  These people should probably be hospitalized or something. 

*Leonidas returns; he, having killed the penguin with a harpoon, has now become a man and, I guess, the King.  I wonder if he told them he pleasured the penguin sexually before he killed it.  I bet not.

*Carmen Electra is introduced, sucking a lollipop as that one hip hop song plays.  You know the one.  The one they always play. 

*It should be noted at this point, that while I really hated this movie, I actually really enjoyed the commentary.  On the commentary, Friedberg, Seltzer, Sean Maguire, Kevin Sorbo, Barinholtz and Nicole Parker all sort of waxed hilarious about, essentially, what a disastrously bad movie it was and how much fun they had making it anyway.  They all seemed rather likable surprisingly. 

*At this point in the commentary, Ike Barinholtz queried “Where would she get a sucker in ancient Sparta?”  Either Friedberg or Seltzer said, “Dude, they were just talking on cell phones.”  Kevin Sorbo owned the whole thing by deadpanning, “And also . . . talking penguin.  So . . .”

*It was odd; you put those six people in a room together with a microphone and they can be funny.  Give them money, a script, a host of actors and a theatrical release . . . and they can’t be.  How crazy is that?

*So, then we flash forward to Leonidas and his son, Leo Jr. training in the courtyard.  The kid is probably ten or something?  And the entire point of this scene is to beat us over the head with how hilarious it is when an adult inflicts physical pain on a child.

*At one point, Leonidas breaks a chair over his head. 

*Kevin Sorbo, Hercules himself, shows up to tell Leonidas that a Persian emissary has arrived.  Sorbo’s character is named only as the Captain.

*Captain and Queen Margo watch as Leonidas chases his son with a chainsaw.

*I’m not even frigging kidding. 

*Sean Maguire deadpans on the commentary, “I remember thinking we might have gone a little too far with that one.”  Everyone cracks up. 

*Okay, there were, if I’m recalling them all, three or four times I sort of snickered during this movie.  Well, actually one of them was a straight up laugh.  Not a big one, but a real laugh.  I’ll be sharing these moments as I come to them. 

*The first snicker comes at this point in this bit of dialogue.

*CAPTAIN:  Ah, yes, I remember when my father used to beat me.  QUEEN:  He was training you to be a man.  CAPTAIN:  No, he was an alcoholic.

*It’s essentially Sorbo’s line reading that got the laugh, though it is a moderately funny line.  Sorbo is by far the best actor in this movie.

*Dare I say the ONLY actor?

*Sorbo gets the best moment on the DVD extra features, a bit where he’s supposed to be teaching Barinholtz some combat moves.  Then after a few moves, we cut to Barinholtz on the ground and Sorbo shaking him and ultimately straightening up and sort of sheepishly saying, “No pulse” and then sort of quickly striding away.  It’s a brilliant bit of comedy. 

*I must admit that the commentary during this scene is particularly great as the participants delight in pointing out how obvious it is that in the long shots, Leonidas’ son is actually be played by a “little person.”  At one point, I think during the chair breaking shot, someone points out the Leo Jr. has five o’clock shadow. 

*So, anyway, the scene ends with Margo, Leonidas and the Captain all peppering the little kid with paintballs.  Just because. 

*So, they go to meet the Persian ambassador and Leonidas frenches him and establishes that in Sparta, men greet men with “open-mouth tongue kisses” and greet women with “high-fives.” 

*During this scene, Electra is mugging painfully behind Maguire’s back, flirting with the Persian emissary, if by flirting we mean suffering unbearable facial spasms.  Again, this could have been funny if done properly.  As it is, it’s just humiliating. 

*The Persian emissary, by the by, is played by Phil Morris, who you might remember as Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld. 

*Whoa, Jackie Chiles was only on SIX episodes of Seinfeld?  Incredible how iconic that character became.

*So, Leonidas says, “Let’s talk over here by the Pit of Death,” which got a small, at least half non-derisive, snicker.

*Okay, so the Persian emissary accompanies Leonidas and about a hundred other people to the Pit of Death.  Maguire screams, “THIS IS SPARTA!” and we cut to the Persian’s face being absolutely blasted with spittle.  Okay, see, that’s funny.  Because, yeah, Butler was just . . . God, there are no words for how over the top he was. 

*So, he kicks him in.  Then he kicks in the emissary’s sidekick.  Then he kicks his other sidekick in.  Then he kicks Britney Spears in.  Then he kicks Kevin Federline in.  Then he kicks Sanjaya Malakar in.  Then he kicks Randy Jackson in.  Then he kicks Paula Abdul in.  Then he kicks Simon Cowell in.  Then he kicks Ryan Seacrest in. 

*I mean, holy God.  Get a grip. 

*Hilariously, we will see during the cut scenes under the credits that he also kicked in Tom Cruise, George W. Bush, Dane Cook and Ellen DeGeneres.  I wonder why they cut them.  I mean, once you top ten times on the same joke, you might as well just go ahead and do all fourteen.  It’s not like ten is more subtle. 

*I must say when he kicks Britney Spears in there is what is one of the most hilarious bad special effects I’ve ever seen of Britney slowly falling into the pit, still talking to K-Fed. 

*And God, they ripped it up on the commentary.  I must say, bad as the movie was, I applaud their whole hearted ability to basically just laugh at how terrible it is. 

*I’m forced to admit that Nicole Parker does a good Paula Abdul.  Also a very good Ellen DeGeneres.  Parker was part of that whole bit back when MadTV was actually better than SNL.  It had Nicole Parker and Stephanie Weir, two deeply brilliant comedians. 

*Her Britney is really annoying though.  Of course, Britney is really annoying, so . . .

*Also, the whole Tom Cruise impression is basically a two second shot of some guy grinning and saying “Leonidas” and then you only see him from behind.  So, yeah, that was pretty terrible.  

*During this whole thing, Diedrich Bader shows up as Traitoro.  Yeah, like that. 

*At one point, he gets rather exasperated and finally snaps, “Stop.  Stop.  Stop.  Oh, stop. Oh, stop kicking people into the Pit of Death.”  Which would be funny, except it’s too true. 

*Also, Sanjaya, as he’s kicked in, screams, “I’m not gaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy.”  Which is, yeah, way to be on the cutting edge of the humor. 

*Okay, so they end up finally, finally, finally, God finally leaving the Pit of Death.  Leonidas visits the prophets of which Ike Barinholtz is unrecognizable as the head prophet.

*Leonidas outlines his battle plan which of course requires him to draw things that look like penises in the sand and say things like, “I’m going to take them from the rear,” and “Then I’ll reach around to the front.” 

*Penises?  Penii? Penisauri? 

*The prophets, perhaps alone of all God’s creatures, find this hilariously funny. 

*There’s an Ugly Betty spoof here and the head prophet licks a girl’s eye and then sticks his tongue in one of her nostrils. 

*WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO SEE THAT

*Leonidas is then seen standing buck naked in his window in the moonlight.  Well, all praise to Sean Maguire for going for it, I guess.  We get a full on butt shot.  I suppose, you know, it’s his artistic integrity.

*We then cut around front to see some girls walking by and giggling about him looking like a Ken doll and then we get a shot of . . .

*OH HOLY WHAT THE WHAT IN THE FRIGGING MOTHER OF A WHAT THE FRIGGING HELL

*Okay, so there’s a shot of a sort of weird little nubbin thing between his legs that is just incredibly disturbing.  I sort of got a little vertigo when that happened.  I say again, WHO wants to see this?  It even grosses out the people on the commentary and then Nicole Parker sort of sadly says, “Yeah, I didn’t really get that.”

*You and me both, kid. 

*He goes in and talks to Queen Margo and they pull up a review of Meet the Spartans on AICN to figure out how history will remember him. 

*Which, yes, one could actually believe that Knowles would indeed review a movie hundreds of years before it was even possible for it to be made.  I totally buy that. 

*Then follows a great scene spoofing the sort of idiotic sex on display in many of these kinds of movies.  It turns out that he’s actually bench pressing her, not having sex with her.

*On the commentary, Maguire does a great riff about how all of his stuff for this scene was actually shot alone; so, basically he’s writhing orgasmically while people film it.  All by himself.  Very funny little riff he does. 

*Microsoft Word would like to correct ‘orgasmically’ to ‘orgasm ally.’  Nothing like a good orgasm ally, am I right?  Am I right? 

*So, anyway, the next morning Leonidas heads out to meet his three hundred only to discover that there are actually only thirteen of them.  There’s the token fat guy amidst all the chiseled body builders.

*Leonidas and the Captain do their frenching thing and then the Captain pulls a strand of nasty hair out of his mouth.  Hilariously, on the commentary, Friedberg says the MPAA made them pull that to get a PG-13 rating.  When it’s obviously BEARD hair.  I wonder who has the filthy mind here.

*Captain gets off the best joke in the whole movie; I snickered at this one too.

*Captain introduces Leonidas to his son:  “This is my son, Sonio.” 

*Which is at once both so brilliant and so stupid that I couldn’t help but laugh.  I’m sorry; they actually got me on that one. 

*There follows a horrendous spoof of America’s Next Top Model where Sonio is chosen to be Sparta’s Next Top Warrior.  The Tyra Banks impersonator, by which I mean ‘standard issue black woman who can snap her fingers and act like a beeyotch’ slaps herself on the behind and her . . .

*OH HOLY SWEET BUDDHA!

*Yeah, we get a horrifying closeup of this awful wrinkled behind with pimples all over it.  WHY?  WHY?!  WHY THE HELL?!?! 

*Also, I hope Tyra kills them all. 

*So, then all the Spartans form up in pairs, and, holding hands, they SKIP out of Sparta, singing I Will Survive. 

*You know, I Will Survive is actually kind of a great song, removed from the kitsch that it’s become married to over the years. 

*So, the Spartans skip into the Hot Gates and set up camp.  No sooner have they arrived than Hunchback Paris Hilton arrives, essayed by Nicole Parker AGAIN.  Small reason is given for Paris Hilton having developed a hunch on her back and her one arm having grown grotesquely long and rubbery. 

*Pressed on the issue of what happened to her, Paris replies, “You know, just this whole prison thing and all that.”  Right because that’s what happens when people get thrown in prison; they turn into hunchbacks. 

*Anyway, there’s a tremendous amount of painfully banal sexual innuendo involving spears and stuff.  You know the drill; like the worst James Bond innuendo ever.  Like Die Another Day. 

*So, come the Persians and they’re dressed up like the Wu-Tang Clan and led by Method Man.  Oh, good, accuracy.

*I mean, sure anyone with any taste at all loves the Wu. I grant you that.  Yes, they were pretty great.  Yes, nothing is better than a clever reference to the Clan.  But is this really a clever reference?  Persians . . . Wu-Tang Clan . . . both obviously sound not American, ergo they connect . . . I mean, what? 

*So, then Leonidas pulls on a knit cap and proceeds to stomp the yard. 

*God, I loathe myself. 

*So, see, this is a legitimate insight, though certainly not an original one.  Action sequences in action movies are much like musical sequences in musical movies. 

*In both types of movies, you have a plot and also the need to occasionally pause for these sort of divorced sequences, be they musical or action (or in the case of other kinds of movies, sexual).  At their best, these showcase sequences are visually stunning and choreographed, but also they somehow progress the narrative or reveal some emotional truth. 

*At their worst, they’re noisy and bombastic and somewhat unwatchable, being rather corny. 

*So, yes, in many ways, a movie like 300 has more in common with a movie like, say, Singin’ in the Rain than you might at first think.  Action sequences and musical sequences fill the same purpose in a film; this is particularly obvious in bad films of either type.

*You know, like the action suddenly stops for a completely disconnected song or an action sequence that doesn’t really accomplish anything. 

*So, by replacing the action sequence with a dance sequence . . . well, that’s an insight.  Certainly this isn’t original with me or with them; one reads extensively of this kind of structural analysis. 

*Of course, the dance sequence then proceeds to go on for something like twenty minutes.  See, this would be a bad example.

*It ends with Leonidas breaking his whole head off his body and then putting it back on to snappily say, “You got served.” 

*Seriously.  Who says that anymore?  Well, who said it in the first place?  Buncha losers. 

*Then they dance the Persians off the cliff in a nicely done visual effect that really mirrors the similar cliff shot in 300.

*Of course, in this version, they’re . . . dancing them off the cliff.  I just . . . man.

*Ike Barinholtz muses on the commentary, “I haven’t seen so many Persians get fucked up since last night at the Skybar.”  Which he’s obviously been saving for at least two days.   But, hey, great line.  I laughed.

*Then it’s back to Sparta for Queen Margo to get a massage that involves her servant sort of doing all kinds of horrible things to her.  You know, like leaping into the air and disappearing for like thirty seconds and then falling on her and breaking the table.  I mean, good Lord, this is awful.  Oh, yeah, also, she’s going to visit Traitoro in order to get him to . . . you know what, screw it, you saw 300. 

*So, a parody of that whole, “You’re not going to enjoy this” scene only with like way more premature ejaculation jokes.

*This scene also ends with Queen Margo saying, “I have crabs.”  And then we cut to a shot of someone’s panty clad crotch COVERED in crabs crawling around. 

*I mean, did we NEED THAT DID WE NEED THAT TO SEE CRABS CRAWLING AROUND A WOMAN’S PRIVATE AREA I MEAN COME ON

*That’s what you call a rhetorical question, folks. 

*So, then Xerxes shows up and, the Narrator assures us, “He looked a lot like that fat guy from Borat.” 

*That’s sort of the kind of work they do in movies like this.  Rather than miss the one or two people who will be watching Meet the Spartans having not seen Borat, they slap on that idiotic narration to drive the joke home with a jackhammer. 

*So, he enters, rips off a nipple (long story), opens a hole in the rock wall to reveal the set of Deal or No Deal so he can bargain with Leonidas and basically let’s see where was I going with this sentence.

*The next fight between the Persians and Spartans involves a bunch of ‘teens’ in ‘cool’ clothes having a “Yo Mamma” contest with the Spartans. 

*You know that thing about them having that whole insight about action sequences and musical numbers?  Yeah, that was most likely entirely accidental. 

*So, Queen Margo goes before the council and the council is composed entirely of men in their sixties and seventies who, as Margo enters, say things like, “I’m gettin’ a chubby” and “Boner alert, boner alert!” 

*I feel my humanity just draining out me right now. 

*So, anyway, Traitoro betrays Queen Margo by saying they shouldn’t send help to Leonidas.  This makes Queen Margo so angry . . .

*Okay, listen closely now.

*This makes Queen Margo so angry that SHE TURNS INTO THE BLACK VENOM SPIDERMAN!!!!!!!

*I think I literally slapped myself in the forehead at that, I have to say. 

*So, of course, suddenly Traitoro turns out to be made of sand and they have this whole fight in front of the Council.  Just randomly, he turns out to be made of sand.  What a coincidence. 

*By the way, when Margo supposedly punches through Traitoro, it is just incredibly obvious that she has literally just put her arm on the other side of him. 

*Yes, it’s the old ‘hold something under your arm and pretend it went through you’ gag.  More suited to backyard war games than, you know, theatrical movies, but whatever. 

*So, she knocks Traitoro around until he is just a pile of sand.  A cat wanders in and poops on the sand.  The sand whirls around and Traitoro returns with cat poop all over his face. 

*You may think I’m making this movie sound worse than it is.  I’m not. 

*So, Paris Hilton goes to Xerxes and we get the sort of token “hot girls all over kissing each other” scene.  For some odd reason, there are also two dogs having fairly violent sex. 

*I know you don’t believe me, but I swear it’s true.  One of them is sort of howling. 

*This is sort of anti-porn.  It’s so sort of violently anti-sexual.  I mean, so obviously degrading and stupid and horrible. 

*Anyway, of course, Paris betrays Leonidas by telling Xerxes about this secret goat path.  In return, she asks that Xerxes lance her hump. 

*Do I need to tell you that he flies across the tent in an explosion of pus?  No, of course I don’t. 

*Ike Barinholtz on the commentary, falling back on an old standby: “Can you imagine Ken Davidian surrounded by all those beautiful girls?  He must have been really hungry.”  Oh ha.  Oh ha ha ha.  Oh ha ha ha ha ha!  CAUSE HE’S FAT SEE

*So, the final showdown.  The best moment is when Xerxes states that he has thousands of soldiers behind him and the camera pans to two guys running in with a blue screen. 

*So, yeah, this is just terrible.  At one point, the Persians bring in Rocky Balboa in chains and release him.  He punches Sonio in the face and his head flies off.

*Ghost Rider shows up.  Yes, GHOST RIDER!  And they put him out with a fire extinguisher.

*When they shoot him with the extinguisher, Ghost Rider falls to the ground, screaming “Stop drop and roll!  Stop drop and roll!”  Which is what you’re supposed to do when you’re on fire, not when you’re NOT on fire.  Idiots. 

*On the commentary, either Friedberg or Seltzer remarks on Nicolas Cage being “really crazy or so I hear.  Well, actually, I probably can’t say that.”  I cracked up.  Kudos for letting him say it. 

*Then Leonidas runs over to a car (!!) that’s driving past (!!!) and yanks the driver out.  He gets in and starts bopping to some tunes (!!!!) and then the graphics turn into a GTA like thing (!!!!!!) and he starts hitting people with a crowbar and then he gets a machine gun (!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and starts shooting people and then Xerxes runs and gets in the car and then he turns into a Transformer (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) with a YouTube window in his chest (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!#!#!#########) and it plays that Crocker dude that was always crying about leaving Britney alone (*dies*) and then he trips over his own cord (*rots*) and falls on all the Spartans and everyone is dead (*returns to life with a shout of joy!*). 

*On the commentary, the directors talk about what a great sport Chris Crocker was to let them use his “Leave Britney Alone” video and how he didn’t mind at all.  Yeah, right, well, he IS an attention whore. 

*Meanwhile, the fat Spartan has returned to Sparta with the penguin beak (remember?!).  Leonidas sent him to take his love to Margo and, since the fat Spartan has been blinded in the Yo Mamma fight, he decides to feel up Carmen Electra all over the place since, you know, it’s his one chance.

*And, yes, I did indeed say that someone got blinded in a “Yo Mamma” insult contest.  I’m not even getting into that. 

*And then the fat guy returns to face the Persians again and he leads the charge, but since he’s blind, they end up in L.A. and they run over Lindsay Lohan as she comes out of rehab. 

*And this Lindsay Lohan person . . . this is like the worst likeness I’ve ever seen with an impression.  She looks nothing like her. 

*Well, previously, we had seen a crotch shot of Britney (blurred of course) before Leonidas kicked her into the Pit of Death and then we got another one when Paris Hilton showed up.  And now, as Lindsey Lohan Lite flies through the air, we zoom in on a third. 

*Stay classy. 

*And now, with this three hour epic behind us, we . . . SIXTY-FIVE MINUTES?!?!?!?!

*So, then we get the entire cast doing a big dance number on the American Idol set to I Will Survive. 

*And here, in fact, is the biggest laugh in the whole movie, at least for me.  Nicole Parker, yet again, shows up as Britney.  She stumbles out in a bikini and does a drop dead rendition of that astoundingly painful VMA performance, you know, pre-comeback.  And, man, it is perfect.  Her bit of the song only lasts a few seconds, but she’s really quite perfect. 

*The credits begin.  Ike Barinholtz remarks, “And I think we still have at least an hour to go.”

*Close.  Plenty of cut scenes under the credits.  This leads, hilariously, to people being credited before they actually appear in the movie. 

*George W. Bush Look-a-like?  What the . . .

*And then, five minutes LATER, he finally shows up.  That kind of thing. 

*You know, it would have actually been much funnier had Leonidas sort of welcomed Bush as a kindred spirit.  You know, the whole big war thing.  But no . . .

*When I first saw this movie on my list, I instantly came up with the line I posted above as my sort of title for this review, “Tonight we watch movies made in hell.” 

*Off the top of my head, I came up with that.  These guys . . . they had money, time, writing experience, a cast of dozens . . . what do they come up with?

* “Tonight, we dine AT HOOTERS!”  And then the Hooters girls come in and they all start eating wings.  I frigging swear to God.  I’m legitimately a better comedy writer than these guys are.  The end.  Hooters.  Swear to God.  I mean, really?

*Well, let’s just pretend none of this happened. 

*As things wind down, the writers/directors discuss their next project and what it might be.  A good pitch from Kevin Sorbo, I think, “Movie Movie.”  “Because it could be anything.”  You know, I almost don’t doubt it. 

*Well, thus ends one of the most violently unpleasant film watching experiences I’ve ever had.  Good riddance. 

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