You might get deja vu from the first 30 seconds of the new trailer for The Starving Games, which is virtually indistinguishable from a low-budget remake of The Hunger Games, the movie that serves as its unwitting (and presumably unwilling) progenitor. Maiara Walsh stars as Kantmiss Evershot, a young woman forced to compete in the "Starving Games" (wink wink) after her sister is selected to fight. It's only later that it becomes clear that this is what passes for a parody in the modern cinematic landscape — and that Kantmiss will have to survive the laziest, hackiest pop-cultural parodies imaginable to make it out alive.
You could make a drinking game out of counting the already-dated references in this trailer. Tim Tebow? Check. Angry Birds? Check. Avatar? Check. "Gangnam Style"? You better believe it. A quick browse of the film's IMDB page reveals that parodies of Harry Potter and The Expendables are also in the works. Miley Cyrus' twerk routine might have been too recent to make it into the film — but hey, there's always the sequel.
If The Starving Games' formula is sounding a little familiar, it's probably because you're familiar with the previous films of writer-director team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. After launching their careers with 2001's Scary Movie, the duo have launched a series of quick, cheap, cookie-cutter parody movies like Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans. Not one of their past five movies has managed to earn more than a piddling 10 percent rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
How do Friedberg and Seltzer's awful, awful movies keep getting made? Unfortunately, every single entry in their series of parody movies has been profitable. 2010's Vampires Suck grossed $80 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, and even the weakest of the entries — 2008's Disaster Movie — managed to turn a small profit. As long as pop culture exists, Friedberg and Seltzer will be there, offering up terrible movies for teenagers to half-watch while they play with their cell phones.
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