“I am hesitant to call [The Starving Games] a “spoof,” as that would, by definition, require it possess some sort of humor…”
With the recent transformation of San Francisco to Gotham City to deliver a dream for a Make-A-Wish child and the most recent release of the Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer “comedy” The Starving Games, this has been quite a good week indeed.
Yes, it’s true. I am celebrating the roll-out of the latest cinematic carbuncle from the talent-challenged writing/directing team. It’s not the film itself, but the format in which it was released that is cause for jubilation — straight to DVD and On Demand. Granted, the film never being made in the first place would be downright orgasmic, but we have to start with small steps here.
Yes, The Starving Games, which, if you have an education beyond that of a third grader have most likely guessed, is based on the popular The Hunger Games, and timed to ride the coattails of its sequel. I am hesitant to call it a “spoof,” as that would, by definition, require it possess some sort of humor, irony or satire. The fact that this gets dumped on video is a hopeful sign that audiences are finally beginning to tire of this sort of street-vendor-knockoff style of filmmaking; but it is particularly sweet knowing that their previous Avatar-based project, called The Biggest Movie of All Time in 3D, has simply vanished off the radar altogether. Not much is known why, but that is probably because no one bothers to ask and will merely happily accept it as a gift from a just and kind universe.
By providing a singular source as its target, one might think it would offer them an opportunity to perhaps narrow their focus. In the past their films have been little more than an amalgamation of genre hits. Equally lazy films of this ilk at least had attempted witty wordplay with its titles (such as 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It).
Once again, though, the title The Starving Games demonstrates just how high their aim at humor truly is. They apply to their source the same moldy approach they have to every other film in their cancerous canon: take a familiar scene, throw in marginally similar (and marginally talented) actors, make a vague pop culture reference and end with a bodily secretion and/or dick kick.
Maiara Walsh plays Kantmiss Evershot (see what they did there? I sure hope so, because that’s the apex of humor), who inhabits the same dystopian world of its namesake source. Here, they decide to toss in references that will lose their shelf-life before you finish this sentence: Tim Tebow (who’s not even signed any more), the 2010 Youtube meme of “double rainbows,” LMFAO (on hiatus since last September) and the Youtube series Annoying Orange (which is probably most comedically akin to the Friedberg/Seltzer style).
They also manage to dust off gags for Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Expendables, The Avengers and an extended send up of Avatar (perhaps desperate to use footage from their previous aborted project. None of it has a reason to be, both in the context of the film or its mere existence in a more existential sense.
Technically, the film has the production value of what can only be called “community theater chic” with scenes that leave impressions much the same way a garden slug does in its wake.
But, again, I can’t help but feel just the slightest bit giddy at the fact that backers may perhaps be pausing before allowing these two to vomit their product in theaters. There are two more projects of comedic homicide still in the pipeline from these two, but if this one begins to wither on the Redbox vine, perhaps they will serve as the final nails in their career coffins.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me just bask in this faint glow of this non-release that serves as a victory for cinematic humor.
Review by Rob Rector, Lead Entertainment Writer