Awesomest Maximus


by Uncle Scoopy (aka Johnny Web; aka Greg Wroblewski)

Originally titles 301, and originally appearing on with a 2008 date, this seem to be the latest National Lampoon comedy. It's a spoof of recent sword-and-sandals movies, quite similar in that respect to Meet the Spartans, and it may have been held back by distributors because the two films are so similar. I don't know. Despite the original title, Awesomest Maximus actually takes its basic plotline from Troy, not from 300, although it layers in characters from 300 and Gladiator. Meet the Spartans did take its basic plotline from 300 and layered in characters from ... well, about every other source you can imagine, ancient or modern. Meet the Spartans probably included (bad) impersonations of The View, The Apprentice, rap videos, The Breakfast Club, several episodes of Jonny Quest, President Bush's press conferences, American Idol, and Fried Green Tomatoes. Actually I think it did include some of those things, while I just imagined the others. Or not. I'm not going to watch it again to find out.

Both this film and Meet the Spartans seem to spend way too much time pointing out the obvious fact that toga movies seem to be made by and for gay men, but I think it's fair to say that Meet the Spartans is basically just a series of mostly unrelated pop culture sketches and impersonations which are loosely held together by the structure of 300, while Awesomest Maximus is essentially a MAD-style parody of the film Troy, although it also uses materials from similar recent films.

Awesomest Maximus is better than Meet the Spartans. How could it not be? Meet the Spartans is on the IMDb all-time bottom 100. Amazingly, that places it in the middle of the careers of co-producers/directors Friedberg and Seltzer. They have three films in the bottom 100, including two worse than Meet the Spartans. Their worst film, the appropriately titled Disaster Movie, is rated 15th-worst of all time on that list! Before they came along, John Derek had held for more than two decades the dubious distinction of being the worst post-WW2 director among those with five or more theatrical releases. Derek directed five theatrical films, and two of his immortal classics are currently in the all-time bottom 100, but his throne in bad movie Valhalla has now been usurped. If you compare the two lists side-by-side, Seltzer and Friedberg make Mr. Derek seem like Stanley Kubrick in comparison:

Seltzer/Friedberg John Derek
  1. (3.30) - Vampires Suck (2010)
  2. (2.60) - Date Movie (2006)
  3. (2.50) - Meet the Spartans (2008)
  4. (2.20) - Epic Movie (2007)
  5. (1.70) - Disaster Movie (2008)
  1. (4.10) - Once Before I Die (1966)
  2. (3.02) - Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
  3. (2.98) - Fantasies (1981/I)
  4. (2.63) - Bolero (1984)
  5. (2.08) - Ghosts Can't Do It (1989)

To establish a basis for perspective, consider that Uwe Boll, the German schlockmeister so often ridiculed as the contemporary Ed Wood, has directed six films which are rated 4.0 or higher at IMDb. The legendary Ed Wood himself made eight films rated higher than 3.3, which is the highest score Seltzer and Friedberg have ever achieved. (Altogether, Wood directed eleven films which have IMDb scores; Boll's total is 21 and counting.)

Here are the career medians for these directors:

  • Ed Wood 3.64
  • John Derek 2.98
  • Uwe Boll 2.92
  • Seltzer/Friedberg 2.50

Awesome achievement, you guys!

Getting back to the point ever-so-briefly, I have to ask myself how much room there is for an alternate version of Meet the Spartans. Very little. Awesomest Maximus is lame. It is not as lame as Meet the Spartans, and Maximus at least has some nudity and other R-rated shenanigans for us to enjoy. And it has Rip Torn, who is always pretty cool in his loony way.

But it's still pretty darned lame.


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There are many topless women scattered through the film. I was not able to identify any of them from the credits.

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a very low C- on our scale. It is a movie which may give you a few laughs if it comes on a cable network when you are too stoned to find the remote, but nothing better than that.

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