The cast/crew bit: directed by Josh Schwartz, written by Max Werner, starring Victoria Justice, Jane Levin & Thomas Mann
The ten-word synopsis: Babysitting sister loses her younger brother on Halloween. You guess.
I strolled in to see Fun Size on a Monday afternoon, and was greeted with an auditorium positively heaving with a grand total of one other person. So, the two of us sat down and looked on as the films’ certificate came up. It’s a 12A. I shall come to this later. Then two blokes, who both appeared to be quite comfortable going to the cinema on their own and therefor sat within a certain category in society, were subjected to the hoppy, middlingly-energetic music video from Call Me Maybe singer Carly Rae Jepsons’ new single. Personally, I’m an advocate of catchy pop nonsense, but as the other man, who was probably about 40, turned to look at me, hoping to catch a glance of bafflement that was almost equal to that of his own outward demeanour, I experienced the least awkward moment of the 90-odd minutes in which I was inside that screening.
Early on, our hero, named Wren and played by the girl from that Nickelodean program, (Victoria Justice) performs a rap. This is a rap about a philosophist. This is a sequence so excruciatingly painful that I looked down at my palm to see it had drawn blood. She does this to a male friend, who is supposedly a nerd, not that we’d know if we hadn’t been told repeatedly by Wren’s public image-concious best friend, April, played with the kind of irritating obnoxity the scripting of the character deserves by Jane Levy. Said male friend (Played by Thomas Mann) fancies Wren. This is a shame, as Wren’s, (And, apparently, every other girl) like, totally interested in Aaron Riley, who is, like, totz hot. Manns’ character spends the next 90 minutes then driving around Wren, April and his friend who genuinely is quite nerdy, trying to find Wren’s younger brother, who’s gone missing on Halloween, dressed as Spider-Man. While this in itself isn’t overly annoying, a lot of the gimmicks and motifs surrounding the so-called nerdy characters are enough to make you want to punch the screenwriter in the face. My favourite thing was the invertion of the ‘Nerds are ugly’ trope, by making him a rather attractive fellow, so when Wren inevitably ends up with him and it’s supposed to be an inspirational moment, as we see that there’s hope in love for everyone, it instead boils down to the simple fact of life that all that matters is whether or not you’re pretty.
Of every element of the film, the idea of the nice kid having a crush on Victoria Justice is the one that works. To her credit, Justice actually looks to be a really good young actress, and all touches of respectability the film has hang off her performance and the fact that, despite the script being horrible, contrived and cliched, it actually develops her as a likeable, well-rounded character. Normally, I say character is the most important aspect of a film. If the film can establish somebody I don’t mind spending 90 minutes with, I normally take it as being a worthwhile picture. Fun Size certainly does this, to it’s credit. So it’s testament to just what a tawdry, garish filmmaker Josh Schwartz appears to be. Whilst his TV credentials may be moderately impressive, (The successful Gossip Girl and The OC are both part of his personal canon) between himself and screenwriter Max Werner, they’ve done a pretty good job of going out of their way to make a bad movie. It’s his debut picture, though, so the only way is up.
The film is a Nickelodean production, which normally means a cheap, childish comedic affair, with limited laughs, targeted at 10-12 year old girls. (Up until now their stand-out film was the 2004 Jim Carrey adaptation of Lemonny Snicketts’ Series of Unfortunate Events) However, Fun Size feels more like it’s playing for the audience that went to see the likes of The Hangover and Ted in their droves. The sexually-orientated jokes are at odds with the formulaic TV movie-esque structure of film, not to mention the cast and studio carrying such strong tween-girl connotations that upon seeing the poster you’ll probably find yourself dressing up as Kristen Stewart or whatever it is that teenage girls do. This baffling lack of audience understanding probably explains why the film was, on this particular occasion, just playing to two lonely blokes.
There’s a certain raffish quality to the film, which would be admirable if it wasn’t so poorly executed. The fact that Victoria Justice, and her character, are wasted in such a wretched piece of work is a real shame. I’ll reserve judgement on whether or not Carly Rae Jepsons’ single deserved to be attached to a better film or not to the individual, (And how I’d love to see her next song play before Rust and Bone) but nothing you say about Fun Size could or should ever be read as any kind of ringing endorsement. As the credits rolled, me and the one other man exchanged a look. A knowing glance. We both understood fullwell what had happened in that room. And we knew it would be best not to talk of it again.
3 “WHAT?” moments involving mixed martial arts fighters out of 10