Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
October 13, 1971
Newark, New Jersey, U.S.
January 12, 1974
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||University of California, Santa Barbara|
Jason Friedberg (born October 13, 1971) and Aaron Seltzer (born January 12, 1974) are an American-Canadian film director and screenwriter team known for making parody movies that have received extremely unfavorable reviews, but have generally done well at the box office. They have written/directed films such as Spy Hard, Date Movie, Disaster Movie and Vampires Suck.
Their career of spoof filmmaking began when Friedberg's father showed Leslie Nielsen a script his son had written to parody spy films, which resulted in 1996's Spy Hard. Thereafter, the duo worked as freelance screenwriters, selling dozens of scripts though all but one of them never went into production. They then penned the script that became 2000's Scary Movie, though they were then credited as two of the film's six writers as their draft underwent revisions by four other authors. Frustrated that most of their work went unproduced, Friedberg and Seltzer chose to direct films based on their own scripts rather than sell them to other directors or producers from 2006's Date Movie onward.
The duo have often been strongly criticized for their style of humor, regarded as lazily capitalizing on and mistaking passing trends, scatological humor, product placement, casual violence, titillation, negative stereotypes and fleeting pop culture references for jokes. Their work has often been nominated for Golden Raspberry Awards, though the two have never won one themselves. Some of the films the pair have personally written and directed have become regarded as some of the worst films of all time.
Interviews with the duo are rare, but in an exclusive 2014 interview with the publication Grantland, their background was discussed: Seltzer is part of a Canadian shoe salesmen family from Mississauga, Ontario, and Friedberg, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, was raised in Paterson, New Jersey and is the son of director Rick Friedberg. Seltzer and Friedberg met at the University of California, Santa Barbara and bonded over their love of film, especially comedy. Both are Jewish. They did not attend film school, with Seltzer majoring in art history and Friedberg in history, but decided to try a career in the film industry after attending a class about Martin Scorsese in their last semester.
Spy Hard, Scary Movie and screenwriting
While writing screenplays at night, both spent the day attending jobs to pay their tuition, selling homemade T-shirts, starting their own food delivery service, and opening shoe shops in Los Angeles. When Rick Friedberg made the comic instruction video Bad Golf Made Easier with Leslie Nielsen, he showed his son's script for a spy film spoof to him. Nielsen approved, and this led into 1996's Spy Hard.
Friedberg and Seltzer then spent some years as screenwriters for hire, with Seltzer estimating the duo sold "upward of 40 scripts". The only finished project was an uncredited rewrite to the Jean-Claude Van Damme film Maximum Risk (1996), while an unproduced Liberace biopic (unrelated to Behind The Candelabra) introduced them to future collaborator and producer Peter Safran. In 1998, Safran managed to sell to Dimension Pictures a horror film spoof spec script of Friedberg and Seltzer's named Scream If You Know What I Did Last Halloween. Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans, with Buddy Johnson and Phil Beauman, developed a similar project and, thanks to a WGA decision, all six writers were credited on what became Scary Movie, despite Friedberg and Seltzer not actually working on the final script. The film was a sleeper hit in 2000, and brought much attention to Friedberg and Seltzer.
Tired of unmade projects as screenwriters, and with Regency Enterprises unable to find a director for their romantic comedy spoof, Seltzer and Friedberg opted to direct Date Movie (2006) themselves. Date Movie opened with $12.1 million and earned $48.9 million overall. Moving forward, they would direct their own scripts, leading to a long tract of parody films, spoofing major blockbusters. Disaster Movie opened with $5.8 million and earned $14.2 million total in the United States. Vampires Suck, which opened on a Wednesday, earned an estimated $19.7 million in its first five days.
Friedberg and Seltzer announced their intention to release Who the F#@K Took My Daughter?, a parody of Taken. On February 8, 2017, it was reported they were developing a parody of Star Wars titled Star Worlds Episode XXXIVE=MC2: The Force Awakens The Last Jedi Who Went Rogue. Filming was set for Fall 2017, but no news has emerged since.
|Year||Film||Directors||Producers||Writers||Rotten Tomatoes Approval
|1996||Spy Hard||8%||25/100||$18 million||$26,960,191|
|2000||Scary Movie||53%||48/100||$19 million||$278,019,771|
|2006||Date Movie||7%||11/100||$20 million||$84,795,656|
|2007||Epic Movie||2%||17/100||$20 million||$86,865,564|
|2008||Meet the Spartans||2%||9/100||$30 million||$84,646,831|
|Disaster Movie||1%||15/100||$20 million||$34,816,824|
|2010||Vampires Suck||4%||18/100||$20 million||$80,547,866|
|2013||The Starving Games||0%||$4.5 million||$3,889,688|
|2014||Best Night Ever||0%||17/100||$289,511|
|1996||Maximum Risk||Uncredited rewrite||$25 million||$51,639,438|
|2001||Scary Movie 2||Based on characters created by||$45 million||$141,220,678|
|2003||Scary Movie 3||Based on characters created by; also wrote a draft||$48 million||$220,673,217|
|2006||Scary Movie 4||Based on characters created by||$45 million||$178,262,620|
|2013||Scary Movie 5||Based on characters created by||$20 million||$78,378,744|
Awards and nominations
|2008||Epic Movie||Worst Prequel or Sequel ("rip-off of every movie it rips off")||Nominated|
|2009||Disaster Movie||Worst Picture|
|Worst Prequel or Sequel|
|Meet the Spartans||Worst Picture|
|Worst Prequel or Sequel|
|2011||Vampires Suck||Worst Prequel or Sequel|
The critical reception of Friedberg and Seltzer's films has been extremely negative. Common criticisms of their work include being heavily reliant on pop culture references, passing trends, product placement, scatological gags, objectification of women, casual violence and offensive stereotypes for their humor, as well as mistaking plagiarism for parody. Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans were rated the two worst films of 2008 by The Times. Additionally, every film they have directed has made it into Rotten Tomatoes' "Worst of the Worst" for the 2000s, only one scoring a spot outside of the bottom 25. The pair appears more often than any other person on the fan-voted list of "The 50 Worst Movies Ever" in noted British film magazine Empire; almost all of their films appear with a rank, and all are mentioned in the full review text.
Flavorwire collectively lists the duo's entire filmography at #9 in its list of the 50 worst films of all time, saying:
You may as well lump them all together, because they all bleed together in cinematic hell: the "parody" efforts of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, which include Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, Vampires Suck. They're sad, limp affairs that have all but single-handedly reduced the “spoof movie” from parody to mere quotation: From Napoleon Dynamite to Borat to the "Leave Britney alone!" guy, no payoff delights these comic geniuses more than cutting away to the flavor of the month, presumably causing the audience to roar with laughter, smack themselves on the forehead, and exclaim, “Hot damn, how the hell'd the Kardashians end up in thar? Hyuck, hyuck!” Their most recent efforts, the Hunger Games parody The Starving Games and the Hangover riff Best Night Ever, both sunk without a trace, meaning the jig might finally be up for these two rip-off artists.
The two are frequent nominees of the Golden Raspberry Awards. The first was a Worst Screenplay nomination for Epic Movie at the 2007 Razzies and the following year the pair were nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Director, and Worst Screenplay for both Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie. At the 2011 Razzies, Vampires Suck was nominated for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel.
Critic Josh Levin of Slate Stated That: "Isn’t it massive consumer fraud to charge $10.50 for a barely hour-long movie? Perhaps, but it would’ve been unforgivable to make Meet the Spartans any longer than an hour. This was the worst movie I’ve ever seen, so bad that I hesitate to label it a “movie” and thus reflect shame upon the entire medium of film. Friedberg and Seltzer do not practice the same craft as P.T. Anderson, David Cronenberg, Michael Bay, Kevin Costner, The Zucker brothers, the Wayans Brothers, Uwe Boll, any dad who takes shaky home movies on a camping trip, or a bear who turns on a video camera by accident while trying to eat it. They are not filmmakers. They are evildoers, charlatans, symbols of Western civilization’s decline under the weight of too many pop culture references". Josh Rosenblatt of The Austin Chronicle said that "There’s no nice way to say this, so I’ll just say it: Writer/directors Friedberg and Seltzer are a scourge. They're a plague on our cinematic landscape, a national shame, a danger to our culture, a typhoon-sized natural disaster disguised as a filmmaking team, a Hollywood monster wreaking havoc on the minds of America's youth and setting civilization back thousands of years." Austin critic and animator Korey Coleman, of Spill.com and Double Toasted, has claimed that he is "bothered" by the duo's films, as he believes they are dumbing down the film industry and popular culture in general, And Saying: "Yes, we all know that a lot of movies put aside the more artistic aspects of film making to solely make a profit; we're not naive. But, the films that these two directors make are so blatant at being nothing more than a juvenile finger pointing at an image or mention of a popular trend that, to me, they seem exploitive of a young culture raised to have an ever-decreasing attention span, thanks to the internet and channel surfing and, this may sound a little crazy, but, I think it shows a slight de-evolution in what people will accept as entertainment".
"Spoof movies, as practiced by the cultural blight that is Seltzer-Friedberg, aren't just troubling from an aesthetic viewpoint. They're horrifying from a moral standpoint as well. The parody of the Zucker brothers and Mel Brooks is defined by love, knowledge, and appreciation: The Zucker brothers and Mel Brooks love, know, and appreciate the source material they're spoofing enough to get all the details perfect. The comedy of Seltzer-Friedberg, in sharp contrast, is defined by contempt: contempt for the attention span, intelligence, maturity, and frame of reference for the audience, and an even more raging contempt for the source material they're spoofing. Friedberg and Seltzer aren't writers; they're comic terrorists who cavalierly destroy what others create for their own ugly self-interest. Their success is entirely dependent on making comedy a dumber, crasser, less dignified place.
- Patches, Matt (January 31, 2014). "Surely They Can't Be Serious? – The unlikely rise of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, Hollywood's majorly hated, hugely successful kings of the modern-day spoof". Grantland.com. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- 3/3/2016 – You Done Quit That Good Job!! by Thepoplifepodcast on Soundcloud
- Stewart, Andrew (2010-08-22). "'Expendables' tops crowded B.O". Variety.
- Tartaglione, Nancy (May 15, 2014). "Cannes: Spoof Specialists Take On 'Taken' With 'Who The F#@k Took My Daughter?'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- Chitwood, Adam (February 8, 2017). "'Star Wars' Spoof in the Works from 'Epic Movie' and 'Meet the Spartans' Filmmakers". Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- McNary, Dave (February 8, 2017). "'Star Wars' Spoof 'Star Worlds' in the Works From 'Scary Movie' Duo". Variety. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
- "Spy Hard (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Spy Hard Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Scary Movie (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Scary Movie Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Date Movie (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Date Movie Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Date Movie on Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "Epic Movie (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Epic Movie Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Epic Movie on Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "Meet the Spartans (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Meet the Spartans Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Meet the Spartans on Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "Disaster Movie (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Disaster Movie Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Disaster Movie on Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Vampires Suck (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Vampires Suck Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Vampires Suck". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- "Hunger Games Gets the Scary Movie Treatment". 2012-05-10.
- "The Starving Games (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "The Starving Games (2013) – International Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- "Best Night Ever (2014)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2014-02-20.
- "Best Night Ever (2014)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Best Night Ever Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
- "Best Night Ever (2014) – International Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2014-09-24.
- Superfast! – Box Office Mojo
- "Maximum Risk". The Numbers. Retrieved 2015-02-06.
- Catsoulis, Jeannette (2008-01-26). "Doing Battle on the Field of Parody". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- Scott, A. O. (2007-01-27). "Bravely Setting Out to Mock Others". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
- The 100 Worst Movies of 2008 The Times Accessed 12-12-2008
- "Worst of the Worst 2009 – Fear Dot Com". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- Helen O'Hara; Alastair Plumb; Phil De Semlyen (2010-01-29). "The 50 Worst Movies Ever". Empire Magazine. Retrieved 2010-02-01.
- "The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made". Flavorwire. 2014-09-17. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- John Wilson (2008-01-21). "Razzies – 2007 Nominees for Worst Screenplay". Razzie Awards. Archived from the original on 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- John Wilson (2009-01-21). "RAZZIES.COM 2008 Nominations". Razzie Awards. Retrieved 2009-01-22.
- Levin, Josh (2008-08-28). "Yet another terrible spoof movie from Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. – By Josh Levin – Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- "Film Listings". AustinChronicle.com. 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
- Vampires Suck Audio Review | Spill.com Archived July 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- Rabin, Nathan. "Superhero Movie". Film. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
- Rabin, Nathan (2013-01-29). "The surreally incompetent Not Another Not Another Movie is beneath contempt · Dispatches From Direct To DVD Purgatory · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2014-02-20.