I had always intended to do more Double Features, but this marks my second one for the site. I suppose it is because I didn't have enough things to really watch and correlate to unless it was something like Rocky Week I did a little while back, which was just too much information for a single article. But oh ho HO, did this one work out.
How and why can there be two Hunger Games parody films, both out at relatively the same time? Who knows, but I watched them both marathon style. My roommate bought the Hungover Games and the Starving Games is on Netflix. So let's do this!
Hungover Games is a pretty unique take on the spoof genre in that what it tries to do is to mesh a spoof of The Hangover with a spoof of the Hunger Games, using both plot elements to create a new spoof-ing property, as well as making a lot of other jokes, mostly focused on how Hollywood creates films to present them to the masses. Also, Jamie Kennedy is all over this thing, as writer, producer, and in a small handful of roles. This smells like it could be disaster, with a bunch of Johnny Depp roles, a Ted spoof, a gay Thor, a Borat parody, and just a billion other things.
But it works. It works surprisingly well. And that comes down to two factors: writing and acting. The writing of this film is impeccable. They really did take the two films and smash them together to create a single film that hits all the plot points of both franchises, the Hangover and the Hunger Games. You have the Ed Helms character from the Hangover series also playing the role of Pita ... well, really all of them do, but Ed Helms is the most specific a combination character as he does all the Pita jokes of falling down and being completely useless, but all the plot points for Pita uses the whole Hangover gang. You really wouldn't think this would work, but it does.
The whole schtick is to use the Hangover plot as a framing mechanic and as the lead characters and their motivations, and then the Hunger Games plot as the actual moving parts of the film, including setting and setup, with representatives from each of the 12 Hollywood Districts being in the games: puppets district, gratuitous nudity district, superhero district, Johnny Depp district, etc. The way these are weaved in, it makes all the references that could be just terrible one-offs all plot relevant, as well as giving them meaning and importance. I do not care for either franchise this film spoofs, but knowing what I do of both enhanced my viewing of this film, which already worked alone and is just funny. The jokes make sense and are great, like Bruce Jenner's just absolute hatred for nudity as the commentator for the game, or everyone constantly reminding Ed Helms that Katnip (the Katniss parody) is 17. Hell, the contestants in this film are more well developed and expressed to the audience than they are in the ACTUAL Hunger Games films, either of them.
The second reason it works is the characters. These characters have to be able to act and do all the emotions of the story, selling it for real just like you normally would in any film, but are also being really spot on impersonations. The three Hangover guys are actually named for the actors they are spoofing PERFECTLY: Zach, Bradley, Ed, and Doug is still Doug, which is a great joke in and of itself. Hell, the worst actor of the bunch is Jamie Kennedy, which is unfortunate, because he is doing a good job trying to portray the characters he is, but the lines just aren't as funny (I hope they were not improvised) and he doesn't quite do Johnny Depp-Wonka or Woody Harrelson-Hamish very well or recognizably. But everyone else just does perfect.
The movie has some jokes that don't hit, and there's some stuff I hated, like Ted's teddy bear penis being out the whole time or a few of the referential gags that just don't hit well. But overall, this movie is the most clever spoof I've seen in a very long time, and it really surprised me with its quality. The way that they mashed the two films together still astonishes me.
The Starving Games is another from the guys who ruined spoofs for everyone, the Selzer brothers. Every atrocious thing you think about spoof movies comes from their films. Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, Date Movie, Superhero Movie, all that garbage. Their films are notorious for instead of creating story, jokes, characters, or plot, instead they shoehorn in references, poop jokes, sex jokes, and awkwardness.
Starving Games is exactly the same.
Yet it is somehow even worse. No character is well acted, no shot is well shot, there is nothing redeemable about this film. Together with my roommates, we counted 5 funny jokes, and I didn't agree with one of them. That is one one hand the number of jokes that made us laugh and were well crafted. But this movie is worse than that. It included a 4 minute blooper reel at the end of the film to pad things out before the credits. This is after the already created padding of a Sherlock Holmes spoofing where Cantmiss (Katniss' parody name here) imagines the best way to subdue her attackers ... then you see the exact same footage again. They use the same reaction shot from the games maker 4 times. And this is in a movie where his joke is that he has corporate logos in his beard ... except they should change as the film goes forward (and do) but on this same shot they use over and over it is an old sponser. That is how little they care.
Oh oh oh, here here, check this. A burn wound from Thor's hammer is CGI on a dude's arm. A burn wound. A thing that would have cost maybe $5 to buy the makeup for to look as good as the REST of this film's crappy makeup effects, they opted to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to make it an effects shot because they couldn't be damned to work hard.
This movie angered me in its laziness and lack of skill. It knew that people would watch it and buy it because it was a spoof, and that was the end. They absolutely did not care at all about making a good film, or even worse, thought they were making one and gave us this instead. I loathe this film. It is one of the worst comedies I've ever seen on a technical level, right there with Leonard Part 6 and the Pest, but I despise it more than The Pest. Maybe more than Leonard Part 6. Jury's still out, I think.
So yeah, avoid this one like the plague. But give The Hungover Games a chance.