WITH the release of the dire Fun Size in the same week as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, American teen movies may have hit an all-time low.
|Screen Writer||Max Werner|
|Actors||Victoria Justice, Chelsea Handler, Johnny Knoxville, Jane Levy, Ana Gasteyer, Josh Pence, Thomas Mann, Jackson Nicoll|
Wren's Halloween plans go awry when she's made to babysit her brother, who disappears into a sea of trick-or-treaters. With her best friend and two nerds at her side, she needs to find her brother before her mom finds out he's missing.
Directed by Josh Schwartz, the TV wunderkind behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, this Nickelodeon comedy aspires to be a girl's version of Superbad or American Graffiti, launching its characters on a series of wacky adventures over the course of one crazy night.
The night in question is Halloween and our heroines are Wren (Victoria Justice) and her friend April (Jane Levy), who are forced to go trick-or-treating with Wren's mute younger brother (Jackson Nicoll) before they can head for a supposedly cool party.
With a firmer hand at the controls, Fun Size might have worked. The adult cast includes such welcome presences as Johnny Knoxville and Ana Gasteyer, and the script by Colbert Report writer Max Werner has some funny lines.
But Schwartz, who has never directed anything before, seems way out of his depth. Visually, he's tripped up by minor challenges such as figuring out how to include performers of different heights in the same shot. Justice resembles a mannequin, while Levy tries to make up for her co-star's stiffness by mugging relentlessly.
The tone wobbles all over the place: I'm still trying to decide if a climactic speech about Wren's late father and his connection with the Beastie Boys is a deliberately absurd non sequitur, or if we're meant to be genuinely moved. Either way, it doesn't come off.