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The Hungover Games

2014 | 85 min | R | 1.85:1

The Hungover Games


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Theatrical release date

 11 February, 2014

Country of origin

 United States



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The Hungover Games


Screenshots from The Hungover Games Blu-ray

The Hungover Games Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 21, 2014

We just did this a few months ago. Late last year, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer unleashed “The Starving Games,” a wretched attempt to further their interests in parody cinema. Granted, “The Hunger Games” is ripe for pantsing, but not from those guys. “The Hungover Games” is the second entry in what’s become a lampoon sweepstakes, and while I’m comfortable labeling the picture as an improvement, laughs remain nonexistent and pure laziness passes for writing. Director Josh Stolberg takes a more old-fashioned direction with this razzing of the last decade’s blockbuster movie releases, a laudable choice, but an enterprise like this is measured by the strength of its funny bone, and “The Hungover Games” is a total dud. In other words, Jamie Kennedy takes a co-story credit and plays three characters. It’s that unfunny.

Traveling to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, Ed (Ben Begley), Zach (Herbert Russell), Bradley (Ross Nathan), and groom Doug (John Livingston) are ready for the celebration of their lives. Unfortunately, Zach’s chemical mischief has caused them to travel to the year 2213, where a futureworld gathers to watch The Hungover Games, where teams of pop culture icons and film genres compete in a battle to the death. Freaked out after losing track of Doug, the trio is forced into the fight, battling various incarnations of Johnny Depp, a giant talking stuffed bear named Teddy, Thor, Carrie, and a pair of topless women. Their only help is Katnip (Rita Volk), a plucky huntress trying to survive the carnage, drawn to virginal Ed, who can’t control himself around her. As gamemaster Chineca Lame (Jonathan Silverman) arranges a nightmare of challenges under the direction of President Snowbama, Ed, Zach, and Bradley try to find their lost friend while avoiding certain death as famous characters bring out the big guns to claim victory.

Inspired by the structure of famous parodies such as “Airplane” and “Hot Shots,” Stolberg creates a through line for the main characters. Instead of slicing up the gags into unimaginative callbacks to current trends, “The Hungover Games” makes an effort to use Zach, Ed, and Bradley’s misadventures in a dystopian world as a plot of sorts, filling the remaining area with references instead of drowning the whole thing in replication. It’s not a thrilling development, but it demonstrates that Stolberg isn’t aping Friedberg/Seltzer, attempting to mime the old ZAZ formula of lampoon for this mash-up of “The Hangover” and “The Hunger Games.”

While “The Hungover Games” isn’t a highlight reel of trends, it’s certainly lacking in creativity. Instead of leaning into an inspired sense of screen chaos, with famous faces vying for domination as our three hapless heroes retreat into the woods, the picture settles for the obvious and the crude, asphyxiating the entire film. Teddy is a stuffed bear with pronounced genitalia, Thor is imagined as a mincing gay man, and a bird known as a Talking Jay flies into frame on occasion, spouting offensive comments. Imagining a pop culture uprising, “The Hungover Games” has potential for amusing parody, but it falls short of an actual effort. And when blatant mockery fails, Stolberg arranges a moment where Zach urinates on his own face after spotting a hot tub of naked women. Jokes centered on the penis are popular here, but none of them seem particularly thought out.

Battling swarms of “Swagger Jackets,” seduced by a trio of Real Housewives, and clinging to Katnip’s care, the trio work their way through the battlefield, yet nothing encountered during the journey makes an impression, including an appearance by Tara Reid as Effing White and Bruce Jenner as Skip Bayflick, backing up the “Hunger Games” portion of the takedown. Stolberg deserves some credit for the feature’s heavy amount of nudity (this is miles away from Friedberg/Seltzer’s PG-13 interests) and blessedly short run time (79 minutes), but for every merciful step forward, “The Hungover Games” takes two steps backwards, with the likes of Kennedy and Silverman contributing to the flatlining mood. Perhaps this isn’t a disaster in a genre that’s been ruined by indolence and idiocy over the last decade, but Stolberg doesn’t try nearly hard enough, content to get by on the basics of sophomoric behavior and point-and-shout joke construction.

Starring: Tara Reid, Bruce Jenner, Kyle Richards (II), Jonathan Silverman, Robert Wagner, Jamie Kennedy
Director: Josh Stolberg

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