|Meet the Spartans|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jason Friedberg|
|Narrated by||Robin Atkin Downes|
|Music by||Christopher Lennertz|
|Edited by||Peck Prior|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$84.6 million|
Meet the Spartans is a 2008 American parody film written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. The film is mainly a parody of the 2006 film 300, although it also references many other films, TV shows, people and pop cultural events of the time, in a manner similar to previous films that Friedberg and Seltzer had been involved in such as Scary Movie, Date Movie and Epic Movie. The film stars Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra and Kevin Sorbo.
Meet the Spartans opened at #1 in the United States and was a box office success.
The film opens with a Spartan elder inspecting three babies. The first, an ugly, talking baby ogre (Shrek the Third), is abandoned to die for its deformity; while the second, who is Vietnamese, is adopted by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The third, Leonidas, is accepted as a Spartan for his already-present muscular physique and prepared for kinghood through brutal training. An adult Leonidas (Sean Maguire) is cast out into the wild, survives the harsh winter, and hunts down a gangsta penguin (Happy Feet). Returning a king for his inauguration wearing a penguin skin hat, Leonidas sees Margo (Carmen Electra) erotically dancing and asks her to marry him, to which she responds by giving him the combination to her armor-plated chastity belt.
Years later, Leonidas is training his son when Captain (Kevin Sorbo) informs him that a Persian messenger has arrived. Accompanied by the Spartan politician Traitoro, the messenger presents Xerxes' demands for Sparta's submission. After growing angry with both the messenger's disrespect and finding him making out with his wife, Leonidas kicks him into a pit. Despite Traitoro's advice that the messenger's guards are now needed to convey the actual message, Leonidas kicks them in as well, along with several other people he simply dislikes, such as Britney Spears (Nicole Parker), Ryan Seacrest, and the American Idol judges. Resolving to face the Persians, Leonidas visits the prophets and gives them medicines such as Neutrogena as their price for their consultation. They advise him that he should consult the Oracle for any advice. The Oracle, Ugly Betty, reveals that Leonidas will die should he go to war.
After reaching a decision while spending the night with his wife, Leonidas meets the soldiers assembled for his departure to Thermopylae, and finds that only thirteen were accepted in the army due to stringent requirements. Among them are Captain, his son Sonio, and a slightly unfit Spartan named Dilio. Once at the Hot Gates, they encounter a deformed Paris Hilton (also played by Parker), who tells Leonidas and the Captain about a secret goat path above the Hot Gates that Xerxes could use to outflank the Spartans. When she asks to be made a Spartan soldier, Leonidas rejects her as unqualified due to her inability to use a spear correctly. Leonidas and his platoon soon face off with Xerxes' messenger and his Immortals, beating them in a dance contest before driving them off a cliff. Xerxes (Ken Davitian), impressed, personally approaches Leonidas and attempts to bribe him with a trip to the Palms Hotel and Casino. Leonidas declines, and the Spartans face the Persian army in a "Yo Momma" fight, which the Spartans win, but Dilio has his eyes scratched out and wanders away.
Hilton decides to betray the Spartans and reveals the location of the goat path to Xerxes in return for various gifts and for having her deformed hump removed. Xerxes meets the twelve remaining Spartans and the war begins. Meanwhile, back in Sparta, Queen Margo has several confrontations with Traitoro, as he is the vital vote in sending more troops to assist her husband. Following her address to the Council, Traitoro publicly betrays the Queen. The Queen then battles Traitoro in a parody of Spider-Man 3 and defeats him using a dust buster. With Traitoro's deceit exposed, the council is united with the queen.
At the Battle of Thermopylae, the Persians introduce their secret weapons, Ghost Rider and Rocky Balboa, who kills Sonio with a decapitating uppercut. Captain avenges him with Botox poisoning before being struck down by Xerxes. Leonidas pursues Xerxes and plays Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas. Managing to find the "Transformer Cube", Xerxes uses it in a car to become Xerxestron and shows off his powers to access the "Leave Britney Alone!" video on YouTube. However, Xerxestron accidentally trips on his extension cord and falls on Leonidas and the surviving Spartans, killing them. The blind Dilio eventually returns to Sparta to tell of Leonidas' final moments. A year later, Dilio leads a larger Spartan force to defeat the Persians, but the blind warrior ends up going the wrong way. They end up in Malibu, where they knock Lindsay Lohan down as she is leaving rehab again.
Meet the Spartans opened at number one at the US box office, grossing $18,505,530 over its opening weekend, narrowly edging out fellow newcomer Rambo, which was briefly parodied in the credits of this film. The film dropped 60.4% in its second weekend grossing $7,336,595 expanding to 2643 theaters while ranking fourth at the box office. The film grossed $38,233,676 in United States and Canada and grossed $45,787,889 Internationally, adding up to a Worldwide gross of $84,021,565.
The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports a 2% approval rating based on 48 reviews, with an average score of 1.86/10. The critical consensus reads: "A tired, unfunny, offensive waste of time, Meet the Spartans scrapes the bottom of the cinematic barrel."Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 9 out of 100, based on 11 reviews — indicating "overwhelming dislike" and being the worst received film by the directors on the site.
One reviewer for The Sunday Herald in Scotland, UK gave the film a score of 10 as did Ireland's Day and Night while an Australian newspaper review described it as being "as funny as a burning orphanage". The Radio Times said "After enduring the torturously unfunny Date Movie and Epic Movie, one could be forgiven for concluding that the art of cinematic parody was in terminal decline. This latest installment in Friedberg and Seltzer's franchise hammers a final nail into the coffin with an utterly atrocious collection of imbecilic skits... it's junk-food cinema at its worst. One cringes to think what future cultural historians will make of it... and us." In London, The Times reviewer Wendy Ide suggested that the producers of the film were not aiming for 'laughs' but "a simian grunt of recognition from an audience that must have been practically brain-dead to fork out £10 to see a film that can't even master the concept of out-takes?"
Most of the film's criticism consisted of not having many actual jokes and instead having an over-reliance on pop culture references. Several recurring gags were criticized for being overused, such as throwing various celebrities down the Pit of Death or the ambiguous sexuality of the Spartans.
On January 21, 2009, the film received five nominations for the 29th Golden Raspberry Awards: Worst Picture (jointly with Disaster Movie), Worst Supporting Actress (Electra), Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off, or Sequel.
The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on June 3, 2008, in an "Unrated Pit of Death" Edition and a PG-13/theatrical release of the film. The theatrical cut does not include extras but includes widescreen and full screen versions on one dual disc. A "ruder & cruder" version was later released in the UK on August 18.
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