In this Hunger Games spoof, Kantmiss Evershot must fight for her life in the 75th annual Starving Games, where she could also win an old ham, a coupon for a foot-long sub, and a partially eaten pickle.
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Set in the most depressing corner of a postapocalyptic future, our heroine Kantmiss Evershot (Maiara Walsh) volunteers to take her manipulative younger sister's place in the seventy-fifth annual "Starving Games." In doing so, she must leave behind her smoldering just-a-friend Dale (Brant Daugherty) and team up with the geeky baker's son Peter Malarkey (Cody Allen Christian) in a fight for her life. But wait, there's more! She could also win an old ham, a coupon for a foot-long sub at a six-inch price, and a partially eaten pickle! In The Starving Games, Friedberg and Seltzer's sixth cinematic spoof of box-office hits, the prolific parody duo has its sights trained on the adventure blockbuster The Hunger Games! It's all the laughs and half the calories as they sling dozens of cock-eyed, barbed arrows at sci-fi, action and fantasy films from The Avengers and Oz the Great and Powerful to pop culture characters and celebrities like Harry Potter and Taylor Swift. Written by
A few weeks ago, upon discovering known and universally panned parody filmmakers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer were making a parody of the popular franchise The Hunger Games, I sent out a message on Twitter I thought would be seen as encouraging to some. It read, "Encouragement to young filmmakers: whatever you're writing now is infinitely better than the new parody film The Starving Games. Soon after sending the tweet, I received a reply from the film's official Twitter reading, "Great! We're working on The Starving Games 2!" The fact that the PR/marketing campaign for the picture needs to reply in a smarmy way to negative feedback online about their film shows about as much maturity on their part as the film at hand. Unsurprisingly, The Starving Games is another miserable endeavor of a parody movie, directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the same men who have brought you Date Movie, Epic Movie, Vampires Suck, among other installments of the dead parody genre. That's right, I'm referring to the genre as dead now. Consider my reviews of A Haunted House and Movie 43 (which I'll throw in the same genre since it revolves around many self-referential skits and lampoons A-list actors) the genre's funeral service and this one a visit to its gravesite. What has happened to a genre so promising and so filled with life? The simple answer is it has been reduced to what appears to be a cinematic competition between writers to incorporate as many pop culture and movie references in one film as possible. In the first few minutes of The Starving Games, we are annihilated as viewers by the abundance of references thrown at us, as if it's a commercial break on Television in mid-December and we're trying to decide on what toy to buy our children. The Friedberg and Seltzer formula is to have no continuity, no logic, and no wit in their story. Just clobber together every successful film character, pop culture icon, current celebrity, etc into roughly eighty minutes and string it along with a loose plot and hope someone laughs (or enough sales come through to cash a large check).
As inferred by the title, the film is one long parody of the popular book/film franchise The Hunger Games, with the protagonist of Katniss Evergreen now under the name "Kantmiss Evershot," an inept archer who now must fight for her life in the game where her and another opponent must kill one another in The 75th Annual Starving Games. The winner receives an old ham, a coupon for a foot-long sub sandwich, and a partially eaten pickle. The person who sits through this film in its redundant, eighty minute glory gets nothing but a shorter amount of time left in their day.
With all the disgustingly unfunny references, I'm glad this film was shot, edited, and completed before Miley Cyrus and the "twerking" phenomenon became mainstream. If I had to witness something of that caliber in a film that already breathlessly tries to include the "Gangnam Style" musician Psy, the whole Avengers squad, Harry Potter and his friends (who are told to get out of the film because their franchise has ended), and the cast of action movie legends from The Expendables, I would've probably given up.
The reason why I resist discrediting or shattering the likely large egos of directors Friedberg and Seltzer is because, well, why bother? They have found a formula that pays big money and have capitalized off of the lowest common denominator of wit and intelligence there is in the cinematic world. I am anticipating reviews of The Starving Games that consist of death threats, comments about the devolution of humor because of the directors' films, and remarks of their worthlessness because of their filmography. Reviews of their films have become as predictable as the films they make, so why bother attacking them? All I can say is be grateful this one is confined to a video-on-demand released and a very limited theatrical release, as opposed to their other films which garnered wide releases. Let's hope their window of release just becomes smaller and smaller over time.
The Starving Games and films like it don't make me angry anymore. They just make me sad. It makes me upset to see films like these gain an audience of young teens who are already experiencing shorter attention spans thanks to Television and the internet. I'd let my twelve year old child watch the original Halloween before a film by Friedberg and Seltzer. Or, better yet, the original Airplane! or The Naked Gun series, both starring the gifted comedy actor Leslie Nelson. Those films worked because they spoofed their own genres and didn't try to incorporate every current celebrity and movie figure that has rose to prominence since their last film. There is no reason anyone should see The Starving Games, but, oh, people will.
Run and tweet that.
Starring: Maiara Walsh, Brant Daugherty, and Cody Christian. Directed by: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer.
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