After the start of the last decade, society was on the precipice of a paradigm shift, A lot of cultural touchstones were being unleashed at the time. Some to change how we live our lives and others to be forgotten fads. Resulting in a societal change that is up to the comedians of the time to try to reflect. In 2013, after tackling teen vampire romance, Friedberg and Seltzer turned their sights to the next popular novel that grabbed the world’s attention, while dealing with a turbulent pop-culture landscape that is evolving in front of their eyes. Only this time without the bigger budget, in The Starving Games.
Cantmiss Evershot is tricked by her sister to take part in the annual Starving Games competition, hosted by President Snowballs. The competition is a violent battle royale, where kids from all over America do battle. All is not lost as Cantmiss is drafted with Peter Malarkey and not her boyfriend who volunteered. The competition is a dog-eat-dog affair, and Cantmiss’s archery skills can only take her so far. As she attempts to survive, Cantmiss must fend the environment, her peers, and a plethora of early 2010 references.
Turning their attention to another teenage-oriented property, like the Twilight Saga earlier it offers a framework for updated observations Friedberg and Seltzer’s audience have come to expect. In short, it is the Hunger Games but with parodies. Friedberg and Seltzer still manage to retain much of their edge, despite working with a budget of $4 million, from their usual budget of $20 Million. The celebrity-focused comedy of before has been preserved and more so been integrated into the Hunger Games mythos. With gags such as equating the Hunger Games futuristic fashions, to the Avant-Garde fashion statements of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. They do get broader, and timelier, with the inclusion of Psy’s Gangnam Style, along with the Avengers cameo at the end. The latter of which is especially telling, as society entered the point where these multi-part universes were beginning to reshape the cinematic landscape.
That tech references that was noticeable in Meet the Spartans is exemplified. The trend of 3.D. films gets a brief shoutout including an extended sequence that, owes more than a little to Avatar. The rise of, shall I say irresponsible, corporations like Facebook and Enron are blamed for the dystopia that is protagonist find themselves in. But it is telling that in the film Cantmiss faces internet stars like the Annoying Orange and a barrage of Angry Birds culminating in a Fruit Ninja appearance, all these were popular on a first-generation iPhone. Speaking of the prevalence of Apple products is more than touched upon, practically all the characters have an iPhone or an iPad and, in their world, Siri not being polite.
While the scope is narrowing, like an archer aiming. The Starving Games puts Friedberg and Seltzer into brave new territory, no longer cushioned by the extravagance of a big budget. Despite the budgetary sacrifices, the independent route may be the best route for the duo, requiring focus, and a greater awareness of the world around them. The jokes are there and if you saw the first film, you will be able to follow the plot again. Depending on your appetite, The Starving Games will leave you full and satisfied.
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