The Starving Games (2013)

(On Cable TV, May 2014) Every so often, I’m tempted to check out the latest Friedberg/Seltzer “comedy” just to check that this writing/directing duo is still operating at the lowest possible level. The Starving Games confirms that, yes, they are still all the way down there. Showing no measurable improvement over their streak of laugh-free comedies, it features the usual crude humor, meaningless pop references, cartoon violence, cocked-head reaction shot in lieu of a laugh track and lazy re-creations that have marred their previous efforts. It’s meant to be a straight-up feature-length parody of The Hunger Games, but no thought has been spent trying to comment upon the original source material or going further than simply aping the work of better creators. This time, however, Friedberg/Seltzer’s effort seems shoddier than usual: The Starving Games has a visibly lower budget than their previous efforts, and even the bare 70-minutes running time (padded with nearly a quarter-hour’s worth of bloopers and credits) feels endless. There are a few chuckles out there, but not as many as you’d think from even a low-budget parody film: I had more fun watching even the not-so-good A Haunted House. The sole bright spot is Maiara Walsh in the lead role: despite the terrible role, she throws herself in her performance with energy, and remains unexpectedly captivating throughout. Otherwise, there really isn’t much to say about The Starving Games: it’s empty even by the standards of dumb comedies, and only finds a purpose by being filler in-between better things.

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