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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 Leslie Nielsen spy parody Spy Hard. It received a lukewarm reception and little notice at the box office. Their next contribution to parody films was one of the many scripts that was folded into the first Scary Movie. The duo finally attracted commercial success on their own with the 2006 film 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. They became known for turning out simple, cheap, and quickly produced parody films during the mid-late 2000s, releasing Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Disaster Movie back to back over 2007 and 2008, the latter two films coming out within mere months of each other. Their movies were routinely Not Screened for Critics. The few critics that did see them had nothing but scorn for them. However, the duo's successes tend to involve the low-cost of their movies (not a one of them has a budget over $20 million) and their release dates during the typical Dump Months of January and February when the competition is light and a film simply cashing in on a pop culture craze can stand out.After Disaster Movie flopped even by their standards (largely due to popping up in August, which has become a much more crowded Dump Month in recent years), they took a short break before jumping on board the Twilight train with Vampires Suck. While the latter was still not well received, it did slightly better critically than their previous couple of films and returned them to box office glory. They are currently working on two more projects, Best Night Ever and The Starving Games, the latter a clear parody of The Hunger Games. While their output has slowed since their heyday, they've hardly stopped.Due to the nature of their films largely being simplistic parodies of whatever is popular at the time, a number of other parody films in the same style have been wrongly attributed to them. This includes Not Another Teen Movie, Superhero Movie (which was in fact by a different pair of Scary Movie alumni), and Dance Flick (which was actually the Wayans brothers).This duo tends to attract writing just as negative as their own, so the page is locked.
Their work provides examples of:
Actor Allusion: Hector Jimenez and Kal Penn appear in both Epic Movie and the subjects of parody (Nacho Libre and Superman Returns), adding two actors to the short list of those to get roles in both the straight and parody adaptations.
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.
Jokes about the most recent deaths of celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith in Meet The Spartans.
In Disaster Movie, 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?
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.
Crack Fic: Most of the X Meets Y formulas for the Seltzer and Friedberg are bizarre beyond belief, with the very few threads connecting them being that they were in the public's zeitgeist by the time the film was created. For example, "Meet The Spartans" was 300 combined with Meet the Parents. As The Nostalgia Criticeloquently asked: "What the fuck do those two things have in common?!"
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?"
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.
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?
Redundant Parody: 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.
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.
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.