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Friday, January 25, 2008

Meet the Spartans

Okay, so when I first started writing this column a couple of years ago I decided I would make it a point to always find something nice to say about the movie I saw that week no matter what it might be. After all, hundreds of people worked on whatever the project was, so apparently there were people out in the world who were committed to bringing this effort to the theater even if it seemed to have no redeeming value of any kind.

Which brings us to Meet the Spartans. If it were left to me alone, I’d compare a viewing of Meet the Spartans with waterboarding. At least half of the time you’d think you were dying and the other half you’d be wondering if you’d ever escape. Now you must understand that I am far from the target audience that the makers of Meet the Spartans were trying to reach, so my opinion in this matter doesn’t mean squat. I’m not a teenage boy, and I can’t even play one on tv. Probably not on the radio either.

Meet the Spartans is aimed at twelve and thirteen year old boys, the type who giggle at the word “chubby” when it has nothing to do with being overweight, those who can spend their entire month’s allowance on computer sites without ever unlocking their bedroom door, and the type of boys who actually believe they can convince their mothers that Carmen Electra (Cheaper by the Dozen 2) is a terrific thespian on a par with Meryl Streep and that they and their friends’ only interest in seeing her in Meet the Spartans is to see how well she handles the role of a classical Queen of Sparta, equating it somehow with Medea, but making sure not to stretch it too far so that none of their Moms will suddenly want to come along.

Of course anyone who actually has ever seen Carmen Electra must already realize that she has only two enormous talents and they are holding up her dresses. She can probably barely spell Medea yet alone memorize it. Still, she does a great job at what she is asked to do, which is primarily look like a slut, and that is a lot of what
Meet the Spartans requires of her. Other than wearing skimpy outfits, bending over seductively, showing as much skin as is humanly possible without rendering an R rating, and talking breathlessly about sex, she has nothing to do but cash her paycheck and go home.

Meet the Spartans is a spoof on last year’s hit movie 300, but without the cleverness of the original or the skill of those actors. Instead, it is a lot of lame jokes, or at least they are lame to anyone over 16 who has heard or seen them before. Sure, there are topical references to other current movies like Stomp the Yard, Shrek the Third, Transformers, and Borat, and a way too long reoccurring bit with the judges from “American Idol”, along with some terrible celebrity impersonations, featuring everyone from George W. and “Ugly Betty” to Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and KFed, but it is nothing more than strung together with a hundred or so dumb and dumber gay jokes.

It never ceases to astound me how teen boys can supposedly be so homophobic with their seemingly never-ending litany of epithets directed at one another that challenge each other’s sexual preferences, yet they love movies like this that are chock full of overt homosexual content. The soldiers of Sparta make it a point to greet one another with open-mouthed kissing while the men and women of Sparta simply “high five” their salutations. I will admit that even I was surprised when tv’s former “Hercules” Kevin Sorbo (Avenging Angel) showed up in this sad little comedy as the Captain of the Spartan Army and even he was swapping tongue with hunky King Leonidas (Sean Maguire; tv’s “The Class”). The whole army has embraced an “Ask, I’ll Tell” approach to soldiering. It seems like everywhere you look in this movie you’ll find any number of men caught in many erotic poses with one another, and even in death they manage to have their heads buried in one another’s crotches or their faces shoved is some other orifice. Hey, this is a high class production and it is all about the cracks, wise and other. After all, this is from the writers of Epic Movie, Date Movie, and the Scary Movie series, which just proves the law of diminishing returns. In this case, with every new genre the writers (Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer) attempt to mine for jokes, they get less and less original results. Fortunately for them though, people keep having kids, so there will always be another generation of naïve tweens who will laugh at every fart and “fag” joke they can drag out and put on film for a very long time. God help us all.

I’d recommend dropping dvds of this movie over Iraq as our own weapons of mass destruction. Okay, so watching the movie may not actually kill any Iraqis, but those who watch it will lose 84 minutes of their lives that they’ll never get back, just like I did, and if watching this is not proof that “War is Hell” then I don’t know what is. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

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