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Case Number 26921: Small Claims Court

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The Starving Games

Ketchup Entertainment // 2013 // 83 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 31st, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle is wasting away to nothing.

The Charge

All the comedy, half the calories.

The Case

The Starving Games is a parody of the hit film series The Hunger Games. That is literally all you need to know and all I care to write about the "plot" (hint: there is none) of this celluloid; I refuse to give it enough credit to call it a movie.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Those two names should send shivers down the spine of laughter lovers everywhere. They are to comedy what spontaneous, bowel shaking diarrhea is to a cozy lakeside picnic. I have had the displeasure of seeing many of the duo's films, including Meet the Spartans, Date Movie, and Vampires Suck, all of which were beyond unfunny. Critics have reviled them and, as each film has been released in theaters, audiences smartened up and began abandoning them until their films began popping up as direct-to-DVD bombs.

Like everything Friedberg/Seltzer touches, The Starving Games is grossly DOA.

There are many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many (small breath) MANY reasons why The Starving Games doesn't work. The most important is that the film is jam packed with random pop culture references, not jokes. Friedberg and Seltzer think that you'll laugh just because they referenced a famous movie character or scene (or often, just the movie trailer). So, instead of setting up a joke and adding a punch line, the filmmakers just throw a reference to Harry Potter or Transformers at the screen in a desperate hope that you'll be amused. To Friedberg and Seltzer, it's funny because Hey look! You recognize the thing we're referencing! Here's another reference you'll recognize without doing anything funny with it! Silliness without an ounce of context is comedy in a vacuum.

Sadder still is the fact that the things Friedberg and Seltzer are parodying aren't iconic or important, but often pop culture flash-in-the-pans that will be long forgotten by the time the decade closes out. The song "Party Rock" by LMFAO. The TV show Big Brother. The Annoying Orange. While there are references to more popular, long lasting touchstones, the filmmakers seem to be years behind the curve. It's 2014 and they're just getting around to an Avatar reference? That was five years ago! Do they not realize that Oz The Great and Powerful isn't on the forefront of anyone's mind anymore? And don't even get me started on Honey Boo Boo and Chuck Norris. Note to the filmmakers: If you aren't going to be funny, at least try to be timely. They can't even get that right.

The actors are all forgettable; it's impossible to watch and not wonder, "Why in the name of everything that's holy did they agree to star in this movie?" Maiara Walsh (Mean Girls 2) is the main lead Kantmiss (haha…get it? it's a twist on the name "Katniss"!), and while she has some of Jennifer Lawrence's mannerisms, she has none of her spunk, talent, nor charisma. The Drew Carey Show's Diedrich Bader plays the Donald Sutherland role, which tells you how terrible they cast this movie. There may have been other D-list celebrities who popped up, but I honestly don't remember nor do I really care. Watching The Starving Games is like witnessing an outtake reel of the struggling improv actors who couldn't get a spot on the Second City main stage.

The Starving Games is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. The transfer looks sufficiently colorful and clear, without any major defects or instances of dirt or other imperfections. Honestly, the movie is so bad that even if this transfer was in 3D and the characters could sit in your lap, I couldn't have cared less. The soundtrack is presented in a decently engaging Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. The track features some surround sounds and directional effects, but generally speaking it's a mostly front heavy audio mix. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, as well as English subtitles.

Bonus features include a thankfully short making-of featurette and the film's theatrical trailer.

I try not to quote other film critics, but it's hard not to channel the late, great Roger Ebert when I say I hated, hated, hated, HATED this movie. It's not funny. It's not cute. It's not amusing. It's not clever, interesting, original, well constructed, or relevant. This is disposable entertainment that passed its expiration even before its release date rolled around. Once upon a time, when life seemed so much sweeter, filmmakers actually tried to make parodies that got you laughing (check out any Zucker Brothers movie for proof). There was real effort put into clever jokes and sharp, pointed wit. I cannot sufficiently convey how abysmally bad The Starving Games is. Avoid this movie at all costs.

The Verdict

This is the absolute worst movie of the year, and it's only the end of January. Yuck.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 15

Perp Profile

Studio: Ketchup Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Bad
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Trailer


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