I get it. The Hunger Games is kind of silly if you look at it from the outside. The clothing and hairstyles that the rich people have, the character names, etc. — that’s all kind of funny and ripe material for a parody. The problem is that the people providing the parody in this case, The Starving Games, are Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who have previously directed Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, and Vampires Suck. I list their list of titles because the snickering you’re doing as I read them is more laughter than The Starving Games can generate.
Here’s how these films work: The basic plot is used from one movie — 300, Twilight, The Hunger Games — and everything is made silly. The parts that were already silly are accentuated. For instance, the lead in this film is named Kantmiss Evershot (Maiara Walsh), which is probably the least humorous play on “Katniss Everdeen” that’s I’ve heard to date. Gale is now Dale (Brant Daugherty). Peeta Mellark is now Peter Malarkey (Cody Christian). Note: These are supposed to be funny.
The film hits most of the important notes of The Hunger Games, despite the main portion of the film only running about 70 minutes. The rest of its 90-minute running time is filled with a gag reel and the credits. There’s no time spent for character development or an explanation of the plot or the universe, but then there isn’t any need. The film requires that you watch The Hunger Games before it, otherwise there’s absolutely no point.
Now, before you go rent The Hunger Games — or stream it, because where are the rental stores? — I’d like to point out that there’s no reason to see The Starving Games anyway. I mean, I’ll advocate for you to see The Hunger Games any day of the week, as I still believe it’s a very enjoyable movie, but it’s not worth watching just to do your homework before seeing its spoof. The Starving Games is so devoid of laughs that you’re better off forgetting about its existence.
And, no, it’s not “so bad it’s hilarious” or even “so bad I can get friends together and rip into it for laughs.” It’s “so bad it probably will ruin the careers of anyone who was in it or watches it.” It is devoid of humor and joy. There isn’t a single moment of it in which laughter might start to come from your mouth hole. And if you just laughed at “mouth hole,” I’d like to make mention that it’s in a class above the jokes of The Starving Games. Any joke you can think of in your head right now is better than the highlight of this movie.
Do you know how uncreative The Starving Games is? It has a whole seen joking about Avatar. Avatar! We’re in 2013 (although the film’s copyright says 2012, which means its 2013 release is to capitalize on Catching Fire)! Who is so stuck in the past that they’re still making fun of Avatar? Friedberg and Seltzer, apparently. And they’re not even making fun of the parts of Avatar that you should parody. It’s lame and incredibly unfunny.
I’d ruin the rest but there’s nothing to ruin. There are pop culture references and references to other movies. You will recognize most of it because the film goes for the broadest of audiences. That apparently involves corpses and soon-to-be-corpses put closer to the ground by virtue of having watched this sad excuse of a film. The internet tells me that The Starving Games cost an approximate $4.5 million to produce. I hope it doesn’t make back its budget and its filmmakers never work again. That money could have fed a ton of people. Instead, it will just put people off their lunch for a couple of days.
I’ll be the first to admit that my taste in comedy isn’t exactly the greatest. I laughed a great deal at two recent “failures,” Your Highness and That’s My Boy. Most people hated those. That should make me a perfect target for this sort of movie, shouldn’t it? I didn’t even hate Vampires Suck. For shame, I know. But this movie doesn’t even hold a candle to those. It’s most comparable to The Hangover series, which I consider the worst trilogy in film history, except even the first two of those got a single laugh out of me thanks to Mike Tyson. The Starving Games doesn’t even have one.
A good cast could not have saved The Starving Games. The writing has to be at least kind of okay in order for any of the jokes to work. The best acting in the world would have made this movie even sadder. The only actor of note is the lead, Maiara Walsh, if only because she was on Disney shows a few years back. She might have decent comic timing but it can’t show through here thanks to the atrocity that its filmmakers called a screenplay.
There isn’t a single moment worth watching The Starving Games for. There isn’t even a single scene or line that is worth checking out on YouTube. If you pay good money to see this movie you are financing evil. Pure evil. An evil the likes of which hasn’t been seen since … May 2013, when the third Hangover got released. There are no laughs in The Starving Games and even the most devoted film masochists will be disappointed by its waste of money and time.