The Starving Games (2013)
I feel like lambasting the duo of Friedberg and Seltzer has gotten to the point of beating a dead horse. I’ve been railing against their misbegotten sense of comedy (really just pointless and soon-to-be-dated pop-culture references) for years, declaring three of their terrible spoof movies as my worst film of that year. There is no love lost between me and these two men, and yet I feel the sense to restrain my ire when it comes to their latest, The Starving Games. It’s another witless comedy caper, this time using the popular Hunger Games series as its skeleton to hang its desperate jokes upon. These guys don’t know what parody is, don’t know the particulars of comedy and how to build and payoff a joke. It’s the same pattern of ineptitude that will never change. Yet while sitting through all 80 laborious minutes of Starving Games, I felt like Friedberg and Seltzer have come to the realization that the end is nigh for their spoof careers. This last movie didn’t get a theatrical release and the production values look chintzy even for them. They used to crank these lousy films out one a year; hell, in 2008 they gave us two. Now they’ve released two in the last five years. Usually they’ll pack a celebrity or, barring that, MadTV alums. Even those are absent. That’s right, even this movie couldn’t snag a MadTV alum or D-list celeb. Perhaps, as I’d long prayed, the public has grown sour on Friedberg and Seltzer’s misunderstanding of comedy and matured enough to realize that pointless references are not the same as parody. In all fairness, I did laugh two times in The Starving Games, both related to Diedrich Bader as President Snowballs. The lead actress, Maiara Walsh, displays a lot of potential. She’s a good comic actress, has a tremendous smile, a memorable face, and sturdy poise to slough through this mess. She deserves a better movie and more opportunities.
At this point, you know what you’re getting with Friedberg and Seltzer, and that’s all you’re going to get. However, I just looked online and discovered they have two movies scheduled for release next year, one a Fast and Furious parody (goody), and the other an honest to God spoof-free straight comedy. I’ll be fascinated to see what these two have to offer when it comes to non-spoof comedy, but their background fills me with equal parts dread and derisive excitement. Hey, it can’t be worse than InAPPropriate Comedy, could it?
Nate’s Grade: D