Reel Time: ‘Spartans’ relies on celeb spoofs, product placement

Reel Time: Spartans relies on celeb spoofs, product placement

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

“300” was considered by many to be one of the great “epic” movies of 2007. So when 2008 rolled around and the parody movie “Meet the Spartans” was released, you would think that this would be just as epic, if not even more

Unfortunately, “Spartans” disappoints greatly, even for those who have not seen “300,” and who may not understand the real story of what happened.

As far as the plot is concerned, “Spartans” does stick to actual events to a certain degree. Leonidas (Sean Maguire, “The Dukes”) leaves his wife, Queen Margo (Carmen Electra, “Scary Moive 4”) in order to fight against the Persian army and their leader Xerxes (Ken Davitian, “Borat”).

However, this is where the story starts to deviate from what actually happened and turns parody. The army of Spartans consists of less than 20 individuals, including a captain played by Kevin Sorbo, who some may remember as playing the titular character on the television series “Hercules” from the mid-90s.

The Spartans march onward and encounter a messenger sent by Xerxes who attempts to negotiate a surrender. This turns into a dance-off between the two sides, with the Spartans being declared the winners by a panel of three judges from the fictional television series “Dancing with the Spartans.”

When it is time for the epic battle, the showdown is not one you would have seen in the actual “300” movie. Among the tactics used in this battle are towel slapping and Leonidas giving a “wedgie” to one of the Persian soldiers.

During the battle’s climax, Xerxes stumbles across the Allspark, which “Transformers” fans will remember as the cube the Autobots and Decepticons were fighting over in that movie.

Xerxes himself becomes a Transformer, complete with a TV screen that plays YouTube, specifically Chris Crocker’s now-famous “Leave Britney Alone” video.

At the end of the movie, the characters all come back to perform “I Will Survive” on the “American Idol” stage.

For people who are obsessed with popular culture, this movie is perfect for you. “Cameo” appearances by Britney Spears, Kevin Federline, Paris Hilton, Ryan Seacrest, the “American Idol” judges, “Brangelina,” and Lindsay Lohan (all played by actors) run rampant throughout the movie, and references to films, television shows and video games such as “Shrek the Third,” “America’s Next Top Model,” and “Grand Theft Auto” are prevalent as well.

The movie also breaks the fourth wall during one scene, acknowledging it is indeed in a movie. There are several scenes where both sides bring a blue screen out onto the battlefield, saying they will digitally add more soldiers in to make themselves look like a bigger army.

Product placement is also everywhere in this film. There is literally a commercial for Gatorade at one point in the movie, and the narrator comments that Xerxes felt a chill down his back, but attributes it to having chewed Dentyne Ice gum. In the beginning, Leonidas eats a Subway sandwich, but complains that there is no mayonnaise on it, and there is a scene involving a coffee stand which looks as if it is spoofing Starbucks.

The movie is very tasteless. The writers apparently aimed the film at middle-school aged boys, because from the beginning until the end, the movie is filled with jokes involving flatulence and defecation.

Even more tasteless is the fact that the movie is blatantly sexist. The most apparent is by having Carmen Electra play Leonidas’s wife, and having several scenes involving her either scantily clad or jokes involving her body, including one scene where she dances in front of several older men as they throw money at her. Once she gets their attention, she asks them to send more troops.

The movie also has homophobic undertones. The way two Spartan men greet each other is by making out, and in the scene where Leonidas describes his attack plan, his description causes several characters to burst out laughing due to the suggestive innuendo of what he is saying.

So was this movie better than “300?” Again, I can’t say since I haven’t seen that movie. But I can tell you this; the next time a parody movie, whether “epic” or not is released, don’t expect to see me at the front of the line awaiting its arrival.