Review: Meet the Spartans

Essentially the same plot as “300”, but with a dyed Sean Maguire standing in for Gerard Butler’s Spartan King Leonidas, Carmen Electra standing in for Lena Headey, and Oswald from “The Drew Carey Show” (Diedrich Bader) standing in for Dominic West as a duplicitous Senator named Traitoro (uh-huh). Oh, and Borat’s fat friend (Ken Davitian) plays the much less androgynous, but much weirder Xerxes, leader of the enemy Persian army Leonidas leads his troops against. Kevin Sorbo turns up as Maguire’s trusty man-at-arms, and Paris Hilton (played by Nicole Parker) is the film’s version of hunchback Ephialtes(!). No I haven’t got the foggiest, either.

Especially lame 2008 spoof (of predominantly “300”, a dopey enough film to begin with) from the writer-director team of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (“Date Movie”, “Epic Movie”) has barely any giggles in it, though there are a tonne of product placement gags, gay jokes (‘I'm assembling an army of 300 to go to war with Persia. I'm going to take them in the rear, then I'm going to reach around, and I'm going to take them again from the front.’- Ho, ho. Incisive wit, there), and random popular culture references throughout (Britney, “Ugly Betty”, “Heroes”, the final episode of “The Sopranos” etc.) The only funny things on show here are a dead-on vocal impersonation of David Wenham for the narration, and a dead-on (if inexplicable) Ellen DeGeneres impersonation by the aforementioned Parker, whose Paris Hilton is actually pretty terrible. Otherwise there’s a terrible “Idol” parody (Parker’s Paula Abdul is awful), a chastity belt gag stolen from one of Mel Brooks’ worst movies (“Robin Hood: Men in Tights”), the singularly unfunny Electra, loads of gay jokes (Hand-holding Spartans?), a rather grotesque and unfunny “Casino Royale” parody, and a horribly overlong dance sequence. Dance sequence, you ask? Well yes, you see, instead of bloody battles, the Persians and Spartans face off in dance competition. No joke. Really, it’s no joke, because jokes are supposed to be funny and that’s just stupid. Hugh Grant-ish Maguire tries hard, but this is desperate stuff. Sorbo doesn’t even seem to realise he’s meant to be in a comedy, which isn’t surprising given how fatuous and cheap “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” tended to be (Sorry, I preferred “Xena”).

Hmmm, maybe “Date Movie” wasn’t so bad after all (whilst “Epic Movie” comes across like “The Naked Gun!” in comparison). Terrible, and really quite insulting, actually. Don’t these guys realise that their films are going to be viewed years later for future generations who will have no idea what to make of any of these cheap pop culture references? But then, why did audiences flock to crap like this? Maybe future generations will have an answer, because I don’t.

Rating: D-


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