The trick here: There’s no treat
By Jen Chaney
Friday, October 26, 2012
“Fun Size” is a 90-minute theatrical release from Nickelodeon Productions that, if anything, should have aired as a half-hour Nickelodeon special.
Instead, here it comes into multiplexes five days before Oct. 31 to try and steal some box-office cash from bored teens or parents who would rather take their kids to a crummy Halloween comedy than spend the weekend carving jack-o’-lanterns.
Moms, dads, do what you have to do. But know this: Submerging one’s hands in gooshy pumpkin guts is a pleasure compared with sitting through this often crass romp about a teenage girl (Victoria Justice) who loses her little brother (Jackson Nicoll) during a trick-or-treating mishap while their mom (Chelsea Handler) hangs out with her boyfriend. Unless, of course, you are a huge fan of the genre “Movies in Which Dudes Wearing Togas Pass Gas Into Chelsea Handler’s Cellphone.” If that’s the case, sincerest apologies. This movie is your “Godfather Part II.”
If you really must know: Wren (Justice) -- the sort of improbably gorgeous and geeky young woman who exists only in movies, male fantasies and movies greenlighted by men who have hot nerd-girl fantasies -- gets invited to a Halloween party by dreamy classmate Aaron Riley (Thomas McDonell). Aaron is a combo platter of Jake Ryan from “Sixteen Candles,” Jordan Catalano from “My So-Called Life” and a young Johnny Depp, the last evoked by his Halloween obsession with dressing as Capt. Jack Sparrow.
So clearly, Wren and her best friend, April (Jane Levy of ABC’s “Suburgatory”), just have to go. But there’s a problem: Wren’s mother tells Wren to take Albert, her non-speaking Tasmanian Devil of a little brother, trick-or-treating so that mom and her boyfriend can hit a party of their own. (Don’t judge: Mom’s husband, the father of Wren and Albert, died recently. She’s only robbing cradles and dressing up like Britney Spears out of profound grief.)
Wren begrudgingly does her sisterly duty but, of course, loses track of Albert, who wanders off and naturally gets caught up in a quest for vengeance involving toilet paper and a convenience store clerk named Fuzzy.
In the process of trying to find her brother and still make Aaron’s bash, Wren also must come to terms with the fact that she’s really in love with her nerdy friend Roosevelt (Thomas Mann), the only other person who gets her jokes about biologist E.O. Wilson. Anyone who’s ever seen “Adventures in Babysitting” or has a passing understanding of the term “shenanigans ensue” can figure out where things go from here.
There are a few moments in “Fun Size” where the sitcom-style humor works. There’s a bit involving a broken volume setting on a car radio and Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” that is mildly amusing. Washington audiences also may titter over a gag about a Sexy Ruth Bader Ginsburg Halloween costume, which, let’s be honest, probably exists in a Party City somewhere. And a twist at the end involving, of all things, the Beastie Boys, may please those who are well-versed in the rap trio’s “Licensed to Ill” era, assuming any of them are aware this movie exists.
But too often Josh Schwartz -- the creator of such television shows as “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl” and who makes his feature-directing debut here -- strikes juvenile and misguided notes. The scenes involving Roosevelt’s moms -- a couple played by Ana Gasteyer and Kerri Kenney who, as lesbians, naturally must dress like hippies and weave tapestries of Barack Obama on their loom -- are borderline offensive. And there’s just enough scatological vulgarity, foul language and sexual innuendo to make this a questionable choice for most elementary schoolers.
In short, if you pay money to see “Fun Size,” it’s possible you’ll feel like suing the studio for false advertising, since the word “fun” doesn’t quite describe this cinematic experience. Just keep appealing that case until it gets to the Supreme Court. I have a feeling there’s a certain female justice who, upon hearing about this movie’s contents, will feel extremely sympathetic to your plight.
Contains crude and suggestive material, partying and language.