Movie Review for Meet the Spartans (2008)

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Review #605 of 365
Movie Review of Meet the Spartans (2008) [PG-13] 84 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $5.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Colorado Center 9 & IMAX, Denver, CO
When Seen: 25 January 2008
Time: 3:15 pm
DVD Release Date: 3 June 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Directed by: Aaron Seltzer (Epic Movie) • Aaron Seltzer (Epic Movie)
Screenplay by: Jason Friedberg (Epic Movie) • Aaron Seltzer (Epic Movie)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Sean Maguire ("The Class") • Carmen Electra (Epic Movie) • Ken Davitian (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) • Kevin Sorbo ("The O.C.") • Diedrich Bader (Balls of Fury) • Method Man ("The Wire") • Jareb Dauplaise (Epic Movie) • Travis Van Winkle (Transformers) • Ike Barinholtz ("Mad TV") • Jim Piddock (The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising) • Nicole Parker ("Mad TV") • Crista Flanagan ("Mad TV") • Hunter Clary ("Jimmy Kimmel Live!") • Thomas McKenna (debut)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to read the spoiler points for Meet the Spartans
Better than their first epic film spoof appropriately entitled Epic Movie, co-writers and co-directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg unleash their slimey mayem this time focusing their spoofery around one of last year's most artistically forgotten films, 300, with their version called Meet the Spartans. Oh, and they target two other things: reality TV show hosts and celebrities that cannot seem to stay out of the news for trying like Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, Mr. and Mrs. Jolie, and Lindsay Lohan. Some things to know prior to settling down with a full combo meal: there's going to be a lot of slime spewed, there are going to be gross out jokes filled with squishy slime stuff, and some make-up transformed lepers are going to lick a young woman's cheek. Those are just givens in the Selt-berg screenplays. The story? The story follows the same story as 300, pretty much frame by frame, but with wider latitudes on the actual historical representations, as in pretty much everyone has a cell phone, and more pointed homoeroticism as in the way Spartan men greet each other is with open mouthed kisses and women with a high five. Young Leonidas (Sean Maguire in a shaggy beard and dyed coal black hair) becomes king after a wintry battle with a human-sized version of Mumble the penguin.

In working to perfect this genre and own it, this is Seltz-berg's best attempt yet....well below the average mark.
He returns to his palace to be greeted by a Persian Emmissary (Method Man) whom informs him of the God King Xerxes's intentions to overrun and usurp Spartan law with his million man army. Of course, he ends up down the bottomless pit along with a whole host of other annoying celebrities who just happen to be hanging around near the Spartan hole. With his trusty Captain of the Guard (Kevin Sorbo) and his army of 12 other men including the Krispy Kreme®-devouring Dilio (Jareb Dauplaise) and the Captain's son, Sonio (Travis Van Winkle) he sets out to fend off an attack by Xerxes as foretold by the oracle. He leaves behind his queen Margo (Carmen Electra), son Leo Jr. (Hunter Clary), and a wicked senator planning to take over in Leonidas's absense named Traitoro (Diedrich Bader).

Some 'inspired' if not downright clever spoofs were to cast Ken Davitian (the fat man from Borat) as Xerxes rather than a 8-foot tall ambisexual giant. Davitian couldn't possibly make Xerxes less appealing. Next was the plan to have the 13 Spartans do mostly battle with the Persian armies in the forms of competitions seen in other movies such as the Stepping of Stomp the Yard or a comedy face off of insults like on "Last Comic Standing". These parts were actually decently funny in the context of realizing, of course, that this was intended to be fairly low brow spoof from the get go. Lastly were the constant flow of celebrity look-a-likes, some so bad you could only tell who they were when they were identified, usually by Leonidas, by name. The best of these had to be Nicole Parker's many roles: Ellen, Britney Spears, and Paula Abdul and Ike Barinholt's Dane Cook and James Bond villain—the cast of "Mad TV" collectively spoof the appearance of so many of their rival "SNL" actors ridiculous cameos in too many comedies. Ironically, Carmen Electra, who's been a few too many of these spoof now to force one to wonder if she is spoofing or not anymore, really does a decent job with this relatively non-spoofy role. Likewise for Kevin Sorbo who spends much of the film looking actually quite dignified. Sean Maguire, however, really owns this film in some surprisingly good ways. First, something about the costume, hair, and beard change a man. It happened to Gerard Butler in the real 300 and it happens to Sean Maguire here. You almost cannot believe it’s the same person. Maguire makes the character work because he absolutely takes himself as seriously as Butler did. He never wavers, never loses it, not even when the men are holding hands skipping off to battle two by two. Just guessing, but there must be a great gag reel floating around out there somewhere for there's no way these actors kept a straight face during many of the takes. It would have been torture. In working to perfect this genre and own it, this is Seltz-berg's best attempt yet. They still suffer from over-do-it-itis, but their concept of the craft seems to be getting 'smarter'. The jokes and stabs are a bit more relevant and ironic beginning a slight approach more toward real satire and away from Not Another Teen Comedy. One still has to wonder what these guys would produce if they sat down now and really worked on their own film with their own characters and ideas? Maybe it would be better than their spoofs.

While better than their previous few films, Meet the Spartans, would rank well below the average mark.

Image created using Spartanizer from the website for the film Meet the Spartans. To make your own Spartanized scene click here.

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Cast Members
Sean MaguireCarmen ElectraKen Davitian
Kevin SorboDiedrich BaderMethod Man
Jareb DauplaiseTravis Van WinkleIke Barinholtz
Jim PiddockThomas McKennaCrista Flanagan
Aaron Seltzer
Jason FriedbergAaron Seltzer
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Review-lite Meet the Spartans (2008) [max of 150 words]
It's 300 from the guys who brought you Epic Movie, Date Movie, and Scary Movie 4. What more needs to be said?

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