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From the creators of the "comedies" Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, and the Scary Movie series (Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer) comes the parody of The Hunger Games that no one asked for: The Starving Games. The trailer, much like the title of the film itself, seems to mimic The Hunger Games, but instead of good acting and a theme focusing on human rights, it's filled to brim with bad jokes.
From atomic wedgies to in-your-face pop-culture references — Tim Tebow, Angry Birds, The Avengers, Gangam Style, Avatar — the film doesn't look like it's going to garner much praise, if any at all. (In the past, Friedberg and Seltzer films have received 2-percent and 1-percent on Rotten Tomatoes.)
If you don't think you'll be able to stomach the trailer, here's a joke from the almost three minutes of forced punchlines that describes the movie in a nutshell: A boy's name is "Hugh Janus." Yup.
The film stars Maiara Walsh (Mean Girls 2) as Kantmiss Evershot and Brant Daugherty (Pretty Little Liars) as Dale. The Starving Games arrives in select theaters on Nov. 8, two weeks before The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits theaters (Nov. 22).
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Remember back in 1990, when you and the cousins would gather 'round the living room set every Thursday to catch the latest episode of NBC's television adaptation of Ferris Bueller's Day Off? No. No, you don't. And it's not because you're too young. It's not because your family members were electricity-abhorring Quakers at the time. It's because nobody watched, liked, or gave a damn about NBC's television adaptation of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Not because they didn't love the movie — au contraire. It's because this revival of John Hughes' instant classic characters in the small screen form, embodied by different actors altogether, was a bad idea at its very core.
And such is the case for Amazon's new pilot Zombieland.
I know what you'll say. You'll say that Zombieland, the 2009 horror comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin, was conceived originally as a TV series. That its brand of comedy is perfectly suitable for the week-to-week format. We're not denying that Zombieland could have worked as a television show. But a television show adaptation of the Zombieland movie cannot work. And the proof is in the bloody pudding that is Amazon's pilot, newly released to those with a Prime account.
We pick up with the very characters we met in the '09 film approximately one month after the events therein. Only... they look different. Our stammering hero Columbus has taken form as relative newbie Tyler Ross; his hillbilly foil Tallahassee has become perpetual background player Kirk Ward. And while neither actor does a particularly poor job with his performance, all you can think the whole while is how much you miss Eisenberg and Harrelson. Their individual charms, their mismatched banter. The off-the-wall quirkiness of each Zombieland headliner's performance is what instilled the movie with as much of a vehement fan base as it has mustered.
So you've got to wonder why — with this fact being such a certainty that the very realization that Ward is portraying Harrelson's Tallahassee brands the show as D.O.A. — producers didn't simply opt to give this new set of players different characters altogether. We don't even mean dissimilar characters. Sure, we'll take another awkward B-type as the series lead. We'll take a maniacal, but good-hearted Southern fella as his begrudging best pal. And the caustic female leade (originated by Emma Stone, adopted by Maiara Walsh) can easily be reproduced in a character other than Wichita. The dynamic can remain. But these characters, if kept the same, will always falter in the shadows of their big screen counterparts.
And then we have the material, which deals with the same problem. By nature, a half hour comedy series is going to deal with less gravity, and a lighter demeanor, than a feature film... even if it's got zombies running around, killing people. Zombieland the movie reveled in its comedy, found humor in its tragedy, but it never took its subject matter lightly. Its deaths were always dark, even when its characters were brought to make light of them. But it's the show itself here that pokes fun at its menagerie of deaths: its minor characters are sacrificed moments after introduction, seemingly only to provoke a chuckle out of viewers.
Yes, the episode wraps up with some sentiment. But it's nothing compared to the heavy heart and depth of the '09 film. Okay, maybe Zombieland wasn't exaclty an emotional triumph, but it had its sweet side, its humane side. Among other things, this is what the series lacks. Instead of just hoping that fans of the movie would brainlessly feed on the program, the Amazon series should have vied to be something all its own. But all we have here are Twinkie jokes and Zuckerberg meta-references. Not much to survive on.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter
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So, the Zombieland pilot, right? It's gonna be awesome right? Well, based on the first promo images it looks kinda cool.
Amazon is turning the action comedy into a pilot for a crazy program they're doing where they make the first episode of a dozen series, and then viewers get to vote on which makes it into an online series. This is the first still and poster we've seen from any of them and considering how hot a property the cult favorite is, they sure picked a doozy.
RELATED: Amazon Orders 'Zombieland' Pilot
We can't really tell anything from either image, other than the fact that the gang is all here and, you know, fighting zombies and eating chocolate bars. On the smaller screen (which is what we're going to start calling shows you watch on an iPad) the main roles are played by Kirk Ward, Tyler Ross, Maiara Walsh, and Izabela Vidovic. I don't know about you, but this one has my vote already.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: Amazon]
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It was only a matter of time. The minds behind the Scary Movie films, Meet the Spartans, and Vampires Suck have lain claim to the fruitful territory of The Hunger Games as their next subject of parody. The Hollywood Reporter reveals that the creative team of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are writing and directing the spoof for their frequent collaborators at The Safran Co., and are beginning to assemble a troupe of actors to endure the slanted battle royale.
Maiara Walsh, likely known best for her turn as Ana Solis on Desperate Housewives, will head the cast as Katniss Everdeen parody Kantmiss Evershot. Beside her, Pretty Little Liars recurrer Brant Daugherty will opt for a comedic role of Katniss' hometown boyfriend Gale Hawthorne. Katniss and Gale were played in The Hunger Games by Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth, respectively.
This new movie joins the ranks of existing Hunger Games parodies from Mad Magazine and Wyoma Films.
So who will they tack on to play Peeta, Effie Trinket, and Caesar Flickerman? And with three more Hunger Games flicks on the way, could The Starving Games itself turn into a series?
[Photo Credit: FayesVision/WENN]
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