Meet The Spartans

2008, Movie, PG-13, 84 mins


Title notwithstanding, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer's (SCARY MOVIE, DATE MOVIE, EPIC MOVIE) lazy, juvenile comedy takes no potshots at MEET THE PARENTS (2000). But they compensate with a barrage of "dude, how gay was 300" gags, interspersed with obvious digs at reality shows, c-list celebrities and other pop-culture detritus so dumb it hardly seems worh parodying.

King Leonidas (UK actor Sean Maguire) and his captain (the ever-game Kevin Sorbo) march a handful of Spartans to Thermopylae to face down the vast armies of Persian King Xerxes (Ken Davitian, identified with merciless pop-culture reductionism as "the fat guy from Borat), whose weapons include fierce stepping and lacerating "yo mama" snaps. Leonidas' slutty queen, Margot (Carmen Electra), remains behind in Sparta to get massages, deal with untrustworthy senator Traitoro (Diedrich Bader) and wow the elders with her short-short toga and stripper heels.

Apparently troubled by 300's heroic vision of buff, bronzed Spartans marching into battle clad in leather panties and beautifully cut red capes, Seltzer and Friedberg discharge their homosexual panic by reconceiving the legendary warriors as preening he-men with painted-on abs who greet other men with tongue kisses (why this shocks an emissary -- Method Man -- from the decadent court of pansexual King Xerxes is a minor mystery), hold hands as they skip off to battle, know all the words to "I Will Survive" and guard each other's rears with proprietary zeal. Which is, like, really funny if you're a normal, heterosexual guy, as long as you don't think too hard about why your favorite comic-book superheroes are built and dressed like gay pin-ups. The film's running gag involves Leonidas kicking various overexposed celebrities into the pit of death, including "Britney Spears" (Nicole Parker), "Tom Cruise" (Thomas McKenna), "Dane Cook" (Ike Barinholtz), "Ellen Degeneres" (Nicole Parker"),"Ryan Seacreast" (Nate Haden), notorious Idol contestant Sanjaya (Tony Yalda) and entire panels of reality-show judges, most of whom are carefully addressed by name lest viewers not get the joke. Xerxes morphs into a transformer. "Paris Hilton" (Parker again) appears as a hunchback and flashes her pixilated virginia, as do "Spears" (also Parker) and "Lindsey Lohan" (Emily Wilson). The musical number that runs during the closing credits funnier than anything that precedes it, which isn't saying much. The film's closing image -- "Sylvester Stallone" (Dean Cochran) voguing in a sparkly bikini a la Spear's unfortunate 2006 MTV Video Music Awards get up, is not. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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