Moldy jokes should have been left in the Attic (Peninsula)

Meet the Spartans

on February 02, 2008 by Chad Greene
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Gather ’round and learn of the ancient Greek tragedy of Electra—Carmen Electra, that is. “Ancient” because, even though Meet the Spartans opened today, it’s nothing more than a collection of moldy jokes that should have been left in the Attic (Peninsula).

Remember how people giggled over how “gay” the Spartans’ leather jockstraps were when 300 came out—in March? Remember how people made less-than-tasteful jokes about Anna Nicole Smith when she died—in February? Remember how people complained about how annoying caterwauling contestant Sanjaya Malakar was on American Idol, until he got voted off—in April?

Even if that still seems like ripped-from-the-headlines humor to you, an excursion into Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s Sparta—where men greet each other with open-mouth tongue kisses and poke each other in the backs with their “swords” when they charge into battle on piggyback—is ill-advised for anyone even a bit tolerant of homosexuality. Sketching out his strategy for the Battle of Thermopylae, Leonides (Sean Maguire) declares, “I’m going to take them from the rear … then I’m going to reach around … and take them from the front.” The actors on screen next to Maguire snicker, but no one in the auditorium at an opening-day screening in Los Angeles made a sound.

Later, after winning a step-dancing battle against a troop … um, make that troupe of Persians led by Method Man (it makes no more sense in context, I swear), a narrator offers up a tribute to Leonides in the form of a “Buttmeister Real Men of Genius” salute to “you, Mr. Warmongering Latent Homosexual” that concludes with the toast “this ‘Butt’s’ for you.” Which is supposed to be funny, because “Butt” is short for “Buttmeister,” like “Bud” is short for “Budweiser.”

And then Rocky attacks the Spartans. And then Ghost Rider attacks the Spartans. And then Leonides’ queen (Electra, Friedberg and Seltzer’s not-so-lucky charm from Scary Movie, Epic Movie and Date Movie) turns into Venom and does battle with a traitorous Spartan senator named “Traitoro” (Diedrich Bader) who turns into Sandman. And then Xerxes (Ken Davitian, of Borat naked-wrestling-match infamy) turns into a Transformer—a Transformer with a screen displaying Chris Crocker’s “Leave Britney Alone” YouTube clip imbedded in his chest.

And therein lies the true tragic flaw of Meet the Spartans: Lame jokes can be seen on YouTube within days—even hours—of whatever pop-culture event that inspires them. Why wait a year for the movie?

Distributor: Fox
Cast: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Ken Davitian, Kevin Sorbo, Diedrich Bader, Method Man, Jareb Dauplaise and Travis Van Winkle
Directors/Screenwriters: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
Producers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer and Peter Safran
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language and some comic violence
Running time: 84 min.
Release date: January 25, 2008

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