I'm always relieved when I don't have to review a film like Meet the Spartans, because it's such a writing challenge. What do you say about a movie that's intentionally bad? Thankfully, Slate's Josh Levin is up to the challenge, skewering the film riotously in a new piece. The first part of his reportage is focused on the length of the film, which he declares is less than what other reviews are telling you -- he clocked it with his watch and says that it's no more than a hour and three minutes from opening to closing credits, well below feature length, and asks "Isn't it massive consumer fraud to charge $10.50 for a barely hour-long movie?" Levin then goes on to declare that the co-directors of the film, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, are not even worthy of being compared to The Wayans Brothers, Uwe Boll, or "a bear who turns on a video camera by accident while trying to eat it." Friedberg and Seltzer are "evildoers, charlatans, symbols of Western civilization's decline under the weight of too many pop culture references."
What seems to irk Levin most are the directors' basic misunderstanding of what constitutes humor, since they more or less have impersonators walk on screen and just stand there. Again, I haven't seen this film, but I think I have a general understanding of what he's getting at, since movies of this stripe seem lately to rely more and more on the reference itself to be funny rather than to do anything funny with it. "If you'll indulge me for a second," Levin writes, "I will pause to crack up Friedberg and Seltzer: 'Paris Hilton.'" He also fumes at the movie for having the actors call out the names of the people its impersonators are supposed to be impersonating, in case we don't get it. "The filmmakers betray their lead actor by having him shout 'Paris Hilton!' or 'Dane Cook!' every time one of the film's copious celeb impersonators makes an appearance," Levin writes. "Meet the Spartans dares to presume that it's smarter than the people watching." I don't think he liked it, do you?
For more, check out Scott Weinberg's take on the film.