Sunday, August 4, 2013

Fun Size

Directed by Josh Schwartz.
2012. Rated PG-13, 86 minutes.
Victoria Justice
Jackson Nicoll
Jane Levy
Thomas Middleditch
Johnny Knoxville
Josh Pence
Thomas McDonell
Ana Gasteyer
Kerri Kenney

Instead of going to the Halloween party thrown by the cutest guy in school, Wren (Justice) gets stuck baby-sitting her eight year old little brother Albert (Nicoll) while mom (Handler) hangs out with her way-too-young boyfriend. She loses track of the little scamp while they’re out trick-or-treating. With the help of her friends, she must find him before mom figures out what’s going on and, hopefully, still make it to that party.

I have a lot of issues with this movie. Many of them have to do with Albert. In true movie fashion, the boy relishes his status as missing. He also refuses to talk or obey any rules whatsoever. He goes along with strangers whenever possible, plays with fireworks, and eats practically nothing but candy. Honestly, though, I have less of a problem with what he does than the things that are done to him by the so-called adults around him. For instance, one of the good guys is Fuzzy (Middleditch), the clerk at the convenience store, and a grown man. He doesn't know Albert, he’s only seen him at the local arcade and, therefore, a stranger. Yet, he talks Albert into going with him on a mission to get revenge on his ex-girlfriend’s new beau. I couldn't care less what he’s going to do to whoever that guy is, especially since he’s being played by Johnny Knoxville. However, I do care that it’s being presented as if taking someone else’s child with you anywhere without the permission of anyone in the child’s family is somehow acceptable. Even worse is that is seems the movie itself is cognizant of how dangerous this idea is. Just before Fuzzy drives off with Albert, he says out loud to anyone within earshot “I’m not luring a child into my car!” Of course, that’s exactly what he’s doing. Later, in the hands of other similarly irresponsible “adults,” for lack of a more accurate word, Albert spends time in a fast-food joint, a nightclub and eventually winds up in the house of Knoxville’s creepy character. That last one is entirely of Albert’s own volition, but the movie botches this as well. What turns into his kidnapping is passed off as something Knoxville is in the right for doing. Maybe I’m being an old fuddy-duddy, but for a dad of young children, this is stomach churning stuff. Most surprising it that the people responsible for such a movie are none other than the normally good folks at Nickelodeon. I understand that much of children’s entertainment features absentee parenting, or at least kids that have free reign to do as they please, however, this goes overboard to the point that it is in extremely poor taste. You would think that a company which built an empire on kiddie shows, and claim to have the best interest of children at heart, would know better.

Sorry for the rant. Back to “regular” criticism.

With regards to the rest of the plot, things play out in paint-by-numbers fashion. There are a number of near misses between brother and sister, the cute guy has a crush on our heroine, so does the nerdy guy, and mom has to come to grips with the facts of her life. Yawn. Nothing unexpected happens and almost none of it is funny when it does. As a result, the whole thing runs a scant 86 minutes, but feels at least ten times as long.

Finally, I’m going to have to call a double-fault on Nickelodeon. The PG-13 rating feels incredibly forced. Nothing in the tone or surface content suggest it has to have this rating. Instead, a couple of choice words are slammed into the script where they don’t necessarily have to be. It reeks of someone at the company daring to put out what they think is an edgy production. Of course, it’s anything but. Is it of questionable morality? Yes, but that’s not really grounds for a PG-13. More than anything, it’s proof that movies do indeed have target audiences. My daughters loved it despite me often vocalizing my displeasure. I know, I should've pre-screened this one. The trailer looked harmless enough and the back of the DVD says it’s “an adventure the whole family will love!” Score one for marketing.

MY SCORE: 0/10


  1. I had no interest in seeing this movie when it first came out; your review has just confirmed my suspicions about this one being a dud. One of the main things I judge the movies I watch on is how long they feel/ how many times I check the time on the player. IMO, if this movie was like 90 minutes and felt 'ten times as long' to watch? That says it all. Glad your kids liked it, at least.