Seltzer and Friedberg
IMPORTANT: The content of this page is outdated. If you have checked or updated this page and found the content to be suitable, please remove this notice.
I’ve rarely seen a movie as hostile as this one, both to its audience and to its protagonists, and I don’t think I realized before just how mean-spirited comedy can get (and I was raised on the Three Stooges).
—Josh Rosenblatt, reviewing Epic Movie, February 2, 2007
Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg are a pair of writer/directors that collaborate with each other on all of their projects. They create comedic movies that parody and reference pop culture in the Zucker, Abrams and Zucker style of rapid-fire gags without concern for the overarching plot or characterization.
Their first official project was the 1996 film Spy Hard and they contributed one of the many scripts that was folded into the first Scary Movie, but they did not gain notoriety until 2006 with Date Movie. While panned by critics, the film made back triple its meager budget and secured them a contract to do a couple more films. While 2007's Epic Movie, January 2008's Meet the Spartans, and August 2008's Disaster Movie received worse critical reception and inspired a vocal Hatedom, it wasn't until the last that the public rejected them (although it's unknown whether or not the film's failure was simply due to the different audience provided by its August release). In 2010, the duo released Vampires Suck, a Twilight parody which was as poorly received as their previous works. This was followed by 2013's The Starving Games and Best Night Ever, and 2015's Superfast!, a parody of the Fast and Furious franchise. As of 2016, they are at work on a film tentatively entitled Who the F#@K Took My Daughter?.
In 2010 they announced an ambitious parody of James Cameron's Avatar called The Biggest Movie Of All Time 3D, to be released in 2012. However at some point shortly afterwards the project was abandoned and all official trace of it was "erased" from the Net -- promotional videos were removed from YouTube and even the IMDb page for it was deleted.
See also Superhero Movie and Dance Flick, which are often thought to be made by them.
- Artifact Title: Some of the films have issues with the titles not really representing the content being parodied. As the making-of materials on Disaster Movie revealed, this is because the films change rather rapidly in production and the title is simply meant to cover what the filmmakers expect to be the most marketable element.
- The Cameo: Carmen Electra appears in all of these movies (and plays a major role in Meet The Spartans) making her, for want of a better term, the series mascot.
- Dead Baby Comedy:
- Jokes about the most recent deaths of celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith in Meet The Spartans.
- A literal case of this happens in Disaster Movie, in which Juney chugs vodka, breakdances on her belly, and she and her unborn child get ripped apart by rabid wildlife from the popular disaster film Alvin and the Chipmunks.
- In Disaster Movie, there was a big bottle of Ambien and a wine glass, which could be a reference to Heath Ledger's death. Rumors also circulated that they wanted to be more direct based on casting the role of the Joker, but the deleted scene in question was actually just the character making out with some guy in a reference to Brokeback Mountain.
- A recurring theme in Meet the Spartans is violence against children. Not over-the-top ridiculous violence or violence for the sake of social commentary... just plain, down-to-earth violence. People are expected to laugh at kids having chairs broken over their backs?
- Deus Ex Machina: The ending of Epic Movie. When it looks like Peter is going to lose, he just randomly finds the magic remote from Click in the grass, (which, he of course helpfully tells the audience, is the remote from Click).
- Don't Explain the Joke: Every single reference will be explained flatly to the audience. The Soup made fun of this with a parody of the movies entitled "Reference Movie" in which every character parody explained who they were and said "Get it?"
- Drop the Cow: Literally in Disaster Movie -- three cows fall on different superheroes during the tornado scene, and another falling cow caps off the Massive Multiplayer Ensemble Number.
- DVD Commentary: Two film critics who did not like the movie were hired to commentary Date Movie. Highlights include pin-pointing exactly where movies like Airplane! succeeded while Date Movie failed. The directors themselves did a commentary for one of their films that started out informative, but quickly turned into a tongue-in-cheek bullshitting contest.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: All of their films are fairly straight-forward in the title, even excusing for the tenuous connections the films themselves have to their titles.
- Fan Disservice:
- The amount of times they show a woman with extreme cellulite is just downright disturbing.
- The naked "Flavor Flav" is not something anyone wants to see.
- Follow the Leader: Spanish Movie, Superhero Movie, and Dance Flick. Sometimes, these guys are mistakenly credited for the latter two.
- Humongous Mecha: In Meet the Spartans. It even has a TV screen on its chest playing Chris Crocker's Britney Spears rant. For no reason.
- I Ate What?: In Epic Movie, Edward notices what he thinks is the chocolate river, and quickly gulps some "chocolate" up in enjoyment. After a beat, Willy points out, "That's actually the sewer line," causing Edward to gag in disgust.
- Informed Flaw: The main character of Date Movie is "389 pounds, smokes a thousand cigarettes a day, and drinks like Tara Reid". While the first one is quite visible (and gets quickly removed via magic liposuction), she is never shown smoking or binge drinking. At all. Maybe an unmentioned rehab session happened some time during the liposuction?
- Inherently Funny Words: Meet The Spartans was called Spartatouille (pronounced "Sparta-too-eee") in France.
- Magic Pants: Parodied, of course, with The Incredible Hulk. Then a cow falls on him.
- Narrow Parody: The movies "parodied" are often only one or two years old. For example, Disaster Movie had parodies of Juno, Hannah Montana, Iron Man, Sex and the City, The Incredible Hulk, Kung Fu Panda, Hellboy, The Dark Knight, Hancock, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Superbad, High School Musical, The Simpsons Movie, The Love Guru, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Enchanted, Wanted, Beowulf, Night at the Museum, Jumper, and 10,000 BC. None of these movie were older than a year at the time, and many were infact released after Disaster Movie hit theaters.
- Negative Continuity:
- Main characters in Epic Movie suffer numerous life-threatening and traumatic injuries and are just fine in the next scene.
- Disaster Movie has a character get all covered in shit....only for him to be clean in the next scene. And "water breaking" (which in this case means "everybody is covered in foam").
- The two scenes where "Enchanted Princess" is mutilated by broken glass...
- Not Screened for Critics: A tradition for each film, and considering the rather vicious reaction the films tend to get, rather unsuprising.
- Overly Long Gag:
- In Date Movie, a scene involving a hand-puppet cat squirming on a toilet bowl lasts several minutes.
- Amy Winehouse's belch in Disaster Movie.
- Silas shooting Mr. Tumnus to death.
- In Meet the Spartans, they parody the famous "This Is Sparta" scene from 300 by... having their Leonidas equivalent kick about ten more people into the well in succession.
- Padding: Meet the Spartans' total runtime is 86 minutes, but the actual movie (before the end credits) is between 69-70 minutes.
- Parody Failure: Sometimes, they make jokes that were present in the original source material. For example, the Wolverine parody in Epic Movie uses his middle claw to flip Edward the finger. This would be a valid parody of the character... if the real Wolverine didn't do the exact same thing in the first X-Men movie.
- Parody Names: Not often, but they're there.
JunoJuney, the White WitchBitch, Captain Jack SparrowSwallows, etc.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: In the Abrams, Zucker and Abrams style, but most of the time, they throw in near-exact replicas of scenes from other movies instead of jokes.
- Reclusive Artist: Other than the movies, we don't really know anything about these guys. All we have are two pictures circulating around the Internet, a couple of interviews, and some audio commentary on their movies' DVDs (which is apparently very cryptic and has almost nothing to do with their movie.)
- Reference Overdosed: Each film is kind of like seeing about a hundred different movies, TV shows, music videos, viral memes, and other pop culture artifacts squeezed into ~80 minutes. See the Narrow Parody entry above for a short list of examples from one film.
- Refuge in Vulgarity:
- Disaster Movie has multiple scenes of women pulling objects out of their crotches.
- The "uncut" version of Epic Movie apparently decides that the best way to improve an already overly long vomiting scene is to make it even longer.
- Say My Name: Disaster Movie features several characters doing nothing more than yelling their names, y'know, so you understand who they are. The best way to parody something is to explain exactly what it is you're parodying!
"I AM IRONMAN!"
- Shallow Parody: Not surprising, since the producers have admitted they generally just watch the trailers and go from there.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: In Epic Movie, complete with the tongue getting torn off. Since the movie has no continuity, the character's tongue is fine anyway for the rest of the film.
- Unintentional Period Piece: One of the main criticisms of their work is that the pop culture jokes that they rely on become outdated within just a few years, with the things that they're parodying having fallen out of the collective consciousness. A few of their gags had fallen out of memory before the respective movie came out. Their tendency to base brief parodies on the trailers to movies that wouldn't be released until well into their own production probably has something to do with it.