Judge Kristin Munson is an elaborate green screen effect.
"They say that you're only as strong as your weakest link…that
When the Holechek brothers got together with some friends to make a YouTube mash-up of 300 and The Office, they had no idea what would happen. The five minute short became an Internet phenom, garnering over 4 million hits and an offer to turn their viral video into a feature film.
So is 305 a good movie or the "Numa Numa Dance" stretched to 80 agonizing minutes?
Facts of the Case
The East District branch of the Spartan army contains five of the most inappropriate soldiers Sparta has to offer: the blind, the chubby, the Persian. At Thermopylae, King Leonidas leaves them guarding a lonely goat path; a job even they can handle. They screw up; 300 Spartan warriors dine in hell.
Two years later, Claudius, Testicles (pronounced "testi-cleese"), Demetrius, Darryl, and Shazaam have gone their separate ways. When Persians kidnap Claudius hoping to get the key to the gates of Sparta, the four warriors set out to redeem themselves, save Sparta, and give a lot of direct camera interviews along the way.
It's inevitable that 305 is going to be compared to fellow 300 spoof Meet the Spartans, so let's just get this out of the way now. 305 is much different than Meet the Spartans. For one thing, 305 has a story. And jokes. Jokes that are funny.
With a character named Testicles, you'd expect 80 minutes of penis and/or gay cracks, but the Holecheks prefer to go the Mel Brooks route, which means an actual plot rather than potty humor and an endless parade of pop-culture references that were past their sell-by date when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. The directors gathered together a group of friends with a lot of improv experience, put them in front of a green screen with a basic script, and let them rip. The result is hit and miss, but mostly hit.
It's hard to tell what's a send-up of 300's green screen process and what is a result of the movie's own green screen limitations, and that's the way it should be. In fact, the cast has enough chemistry to make you forget that some of the interactions were pasted into the same frame weeks later. Even with nobody to bounce off of but the camera, Tim Larsen manages to reel off several funny interviews for his dungeon scenes. Other cast members took on multiple production roles, which makes for a tighter group. In addition to playing Testicles, Brandon Tyra was also a writer, fight coordinator, and sole stuntman, and Nathan Hopkins plays the Persian Emissary along with handling the visual effects.
Not content to stop at just the movie, 305 is crammed with extras, including three sets of cut scenes and three featurettes. There are also two commentary tracks, one with the directors and another with the six actors who played the Spartans and the Persian Emissary, but thanks to all the multitasking there's tidbits about most aspects of the movie. Both tracks have fun pointing out continuity errors and chatting about the production but the actor track is crowded and easily distracted. Despite their insistence that I switch over to the "better" actor track, I thought Daniel and David Holechek's commentary was actually funnier.
Much of the dialogue has been looped, but the 2.0 stereo is mixed well enough that you rarely notice, and the catchy end tune is still stuck in my head. The non-anamorphic picture has some artifacts and softness, but they originate with the movie and not the transfer. The only issue I have with the actual DVD is the menus. The audio, chapter, and bonus menus are designed to look like chiseled marble, but there's not enough shadow or contrast in the letters to make them legible until you've highlighted them.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
305 has its share of flaws, and if you're nitpicky, this is not the flick for you. The short's main gimmick, the mockumentary filming style, is dropped early on, and the interviews don't blend as smoothly into a conventional movie. The CG isn't perfect; actors in one plate sometimes move at a different speed from the rest, and the restaurant scene can't stand up to the fast-moving camera. Scripted moments are predictable and obvious and are basically there to set up the improv. A heavy guy lured into danger with food, the female lead secretly pining for the male? Ho hum.
305 isn't a straight-up parody of 300, so it holds up well, and with the short still available online, it's easy enough to check and see if its cartoon violence and tongue-in-cheek humor are for you. Is it a laugh a minute comedy classic? No, but it's worth a rental and if you like it, the extras make it worth owning.
The only thing 305 is guilty of is making a $30 million studio spoof
look like an even bigger waste of money.
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